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If you visit Brazil, we suggest hitting the beaches of Rio first and saving any culinary exploration for later – the selection is flavourful, filling and often fried. You can’t skip the hot, comforting feijoada, sweet-as-pie brigadeiro, and the yes-it’s-cheesy-bread pão de queijo.

But the truly unmissable delicacy is coxinha (pronounced co-she-ñah). It consists of shredded chicken thigh (coxinha actually means ‘little chicken thigh’) blended with onions, parsley and requeijão (a creamy, ricotta-like cheese), though numerous variations exist. It’s deep-fried in chicken stock, and what results is a savoury, doughy pocket. Coxinha is shaped like a teardrop, to match the happy tears that will soon well at the corners of your eyes. And, for your upcoming visit to São Paulo, here are five of our favourites from around the city. Enjoy – and kiss your beach body goodbye. (It’s so worth it, though.)

Veloso Bar
There’s always a wait at Veloso Bar, but don’t be discouraged. If you want the best coxinha in town, you sometimes have to earn it. (Besides, you can kill time by sipping Veloso’s equally adored caipirinhas.)

Pao de Queijo Haddock Lobo
OK, so this standing-room-only establishment is named after the other doughy treat – pockets of bread filled with cheese (sigh) – but order the mandioca-stuffed coxinhas, which will knock you off your feet.

12 Burguer & Bistro
This place breaks the mold, swapping chicken for oxtail in its recipe. While it can’t be your only stop on the coxinha tour, it certainly will stand out for equally savoury reasons.

FrangÓ
Nothing pairs with fried food better than beer. Lucky for you, beer is FrangÓ’s game, though their coxinha is a serious contender for the best in town. We’ll call you a cab… or a medic.

Só Coxinhas Foodtruck
If you want variety, then this is the place. Só Coxinhas has 10 staple offerings: One mimics the chocolate brigadeiro sweets, another is filled with Nutella, while the less sweet ones range from pepperoni, garlic and cream cheese, chicken with bacon, and pizza.

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