Santa Gula was recommended by a personal friend who has lived in Sao Paulo for the better part of her life. She promised a fabulous garden setting, great food and good value for the price and Santa Gula delivered on all fronts. We went on the early side (for Sao Paulo dining, that is...) and found it easy to get to and "get in" even on a Saturday night. The neighborhood is Vila Madalena and the books will tell you that this is an artsy part of the city typically flooded with artists, writers, intellectuals and those that wanna be any of the former. It's not filled with business dining bankers from downtown Sao Paulo via Faria Lima. My permanent residence is in Brooklyn, NYC so I was at "home" in a similar artsy intellectual setting. They have convenient valet parking for R$18 and the restaurant will wow you from the moment you step out of the cab or valet park your car. As soon as you walk under their sign you walk up a slightly sloped narrow pathway that is filled with the warm glow of candlelight and sconces. Very cool. The path is about 40 meters long and it opens into the waiting area for the restaurant. One the night we went there were thin hanging vine-like flowers filling the waiting area which made it seem like the perfect place to take a date and stir some romance. The restaurant itself is appointed in what I will call "rustic chic" style with very simple and eclectic furnishings. The center of the garden used to be wide open to the sky from what I was told, but there is now a tarp covering the majority of the opening. Drinks were good. Food was fabulous. Don't miss this place if you have some time to explore Sao Paulo away from the downtown business district. After dinner, stroll down any of the adjoining streets and you'll find great local live music in most of the bars and restaurants.
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