Before I went to Brazil, I thought there were basically two kinds of restaurant - one where you choose a dish and pay a fixed amount for it and the other the all-you-can-eat system, where you pay a lump sum and then attempt to get your money’s worth by stuffing yourself. Prior to my first visit to Brazil, I believed the latter to be the ultimate meal deal. However, upon my arrival in Belo Horizonte, I discovered that there is, in fact, a third way.
It’s called self-service. The idea is that you go to the buffet counter, fill your plate, have your plate weighed, and then pay for what you’ve taken. It’s simple but incredibly sensible. You don’t have to worry about getting your money’s worth, it doesn’t encourage gluttony like all-you-can-eat offers, it reduces waste, and you can choose from a wide variety of dishes instead of being limited to one. Rather than leaving the restaurant feeling hungry or uncomfortably bloated, you leave with the rather pleasant and all too uncommon feeling of satisfaction. I realise that this system may be common in other countries besides Brazil; however, it doesn’t exist in the UK and so was new to me.
There are hundreds of good self-service restaurants in Belo, and most offer salads, fruits, and a wide variety of hot dishes and meats as standard. Many places also offer barbeque or dessert on a self-service basis, although the price per kilo is usually higher for these. Depending on the quality of the establishment, prices range from £3 to £6 per kilo ($6 to $12), and many of the restaurants at the lower end of this scale are still very good. I’m a 23-year-old male of average height and slim build and I eat roughly 300 to 400g for lunch each day. I usually spend around £2 ($4), which buys me lunch, dessert, and a drink.
I’ve been to many good self-service restaurants in Belo, too many to recommend them all here. However, one of my favourites is called Gula Galope, which isn’t far from Alfonso Pena, the main street in Belo. It’s nicely decorated, has a peaceful outside area, and the food is always fresh. Look it up when you’re in the centre.