Pork paradigm shift: This high-end São Paulo restaurant features pig ears and tails

class=”MuiTypography-root-142 MuiTypography-h1-147″>Pork paradigm shift: This high-end São Paulo restaurant features pig ears and tails

In Brazil, eating pork used to have negative connotations. But A Casa do Porco, or The Pork’s House, in downtown São Paulo, has transformed pork into a gourmet food, kicking off a culinary trend throughout the country.

The WorldJanuary 27, 2023 · 1:00 PM EST

One of the main dishes at The Pork House includes a crunchy roasted pork with beans and fresh vegetables and is paired with the Brazilian national drink: caipirinha. 

Gisele Regatão/The World

On an unassuming corner in downtown São Paulo, Brazil, next to dilapidated houses and walls covered in graffiti, sits the 7th best restaurant in the world.

A Casa do Porco, or The Pork’s House, opened in 2015, and has since become a destination for people visiting the city.

In Brazil, pork used to get a bad rap. But the restaurant has transformed pork into a gourmet food, kicking off a culinary trend throughout the country.

Rueda (right) commands the staff of about 100 people at A Casa do Porco.


Gisele Regatão/The World

One afternoon, three doctors from the state of Mato Grosso came on a gastronomic tour.

“Beyond the presentation, which is really cool, I liked the contrast of the ingredients,” Hyssam Hamida, one of the doctors, said.

Hamida and his two friends said they all agreed on one surprising dish: the ceviche of pig’s ear. It’s made with raw shrimp, sweet potato and seasoned with lime juice.

The ceviche of pork’s ear is served with raw shrimp, sweet potato and seasoned with lime juice. The pairing cocktail is pisco sour.


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It’s not an accident that A Casa do Porco is located in downtown São Paulo. Janaina Rueda, co-chef and co-owner of the restaurant, was born in a tenement a few blocks away. She started working when she was 11 and dropped out of school in seventh grade.

Rueda opened the restaurant with her then-husband, chef Jefferson Rueda, who used to be a butcher. They serve a high-end pre-fixe menu with the price tag: $46.

“If you are going to compare it with the other restaurants that made it to the list of the top 50 in the world, it’s the most affordable, by far,” she said.

One of the reasons is its location. Rents are cheaper in downtown São Paulo. It’s an area that fell into decline in the 1970s as industries and residents moved to other neighborhoods

But Rueda doesn’t like the claim that her restaurant is helping revitalize the area.

“I don’t like the word revitalization, because here there was always life, this area never stopped. What happened is that people started valuing it,” she said.

Rueda knows the area very well. As a teenager, she made chicken salad sandwiches to sell on the streets there. She then ran a food stand. She opened her first restaurant in 2008, Bar da Dona Onça, or Ms. Jaguar’s bar, which is her nickname — a nod to her feistiness.

Although, at 47, she’s a bit tamer, she said. “I’m now a jaguar that observes more, that’s more mature. I will only attack as a last resort,” she said.

Rueda has long dark hair, large blue eyes and a tattoo that imitates the skin of a jaguar covering her entire left arm.

Janaina Rueda, co-chef and co-owner of A Casa do Porco, was born in a slum tenement a few blocks away from the restaurant in downtown São Paulo.


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As a celebrity chef in Brazil, she also gives talks all over the world. A few years ago, she led trainings with hundreds of student chefs to teach them to use natural ingredients. “It was then that I understood my role as a cook,” she said.

A Casa do Porco seats 30 people outside and 60 inside. It’s always packed and people can wait for hours for a table. In a month, they serve about 15,000 people. 

“I use the pork from head to tail, that’s why the restaurant is so profitable,” Rueda said.

‘Our Latin Blood’

Janaina Rueda got divorced in 2021, but she and her ex-husband remain business partners. They create most menus together, and since the pandemic, she’s been the one leading A Casa do Porco.

The menu changes every few months. The current one is inspired by Latin American cuisine and is called “Our Latin Blood.” It has nine appetizers, four main dishes, one dessert, plus coffee. 

The first appetizer represents El Salvador, consisting of a flatbread made of rice, with ham and mozzarella. It’s then followed by a Colombian arepa, or corn cake, with pork tartare.

The current menu is inspired by Latin American cuisine and it’s called “Our Latin Blood.”


Gisele Regatão/The World

The main dishes include pork chops with a salsa made of blood sausage and a crunchy roasted pork with beans and fresh vegetables. Some of the pairing cocktails are the Cuban mojito, Peruvian pisco sour and the Brazilian national drink: caipirinha.

They also have a vegetarian menu. And everything comes from two organic farms they run in the countryside of São Paulo state: one that raises organic pork and another with organic fruits and vegetables.

At The Pork House, the philosophy is to use all parts of the pork and to mix unconventional ingredients.


Gisele Regatão/The World

Luciana Barbo, a food critic based in the capital Brasília, said she will never forget the first time she ate at A Casa do Porco, a year after it opened. 

“My first experience was a paradigm shift, I went crazy,” she said. That’s because, she says, growing up, pork meat had a problematic image in Brazil. 

“In my childhood, in my science classes, we learned that pork meat was dangerous because it carried worms,” she said.

Barbo believes Casa do Porco changed that image and made pork a gourmet food all over the country.

“Here in Brasilia, we already had a bar also dedicated only to pork meat,” she said. She added that people now can find one of Rueda’s creations, pancetta with sweet guava, in bars in several cities across Brazil.

“They started a trend,” she said.

The restaurant seats about 60 people inside.


Gisele Regatão/The World

Today, Janaina and Jefferson Rueda run four establishments downtown, including a hotdog kiosk and an ice cream shop. They are about to open a fifth, which will offer one different homemade dish a day for less than $8, called a merenda da cidade,” or “the city’s school lunch.”

Rueda said she hopes A Casa do Porco will stay open for many years to come.

“I want it to last for 200 years, I want my sons to be the chefs here, together with the team,” she said.

Her oldest, who is 17, is already working at A Casa do Porco as a cook.

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