Visiting an interior Brazilian town can reward travelers with a deep history, filled with a variety of smells, flavors, and scenes. The area in and around Tiradentes, in the state of Minas Gerais, part of the royal road, is such a source for a rich and pleasant experience no one will forget.
In the town, as in many other historical towns in Minas, a typical day is unlikely to be eventful. The place lives at its own peaceful pace, periodically broken up by interesting events that come along throughout the year, like cinema exhibitions, gastronomic and photography festivals, and religious celebrations. All of a sudden, the small charming town shows its spirit for a wide range of visitors coming from around the world, curious about Brazil and the hero of Brazilian independence, Tiradentes (or tooth-puller) whose name graces the city.
But it’s in the kitchen that Tiradentes truly shows its cosmopolitan outlook in the varied cuisine you can find here. Tiradentes isn’t a hotbed of modern coffee expertise—mostly just espresso or cappuccino is served—however the town has many restaurants and cafes specializing in regional or global food. Two stand out due to their creative menu: Kitanda Brasil and Xicrona Loja e Café, both rustic in appearance but creative in menu, and each is worthy of a coffee stop.
If you have a sweet tooth, you must visit Kitanda for its food, coffee, and exotic jams, including their famous coffee jam, made by Tanea Romao, who switched from a career in metallurgy to run a restaurant. For bolder folks, Romao offers the delight of drinking caipirinha, including a caipirinha made with coffee jam—especially smooth and delicious.
Kitanda is the kind of place where people love staying for hours. With fine food and warm hospitality, the indoor and outdoor seats (very well positioned near the trees) are excellent spots to drink some coffee and slow down. The hammocks are a great opportunity for a relaxing time while you appreciate the flowers or the local handicrafts on the walls around the space. Don’t miss the small gourmet shop inside the restaurant. It’s a good way of taking home a little of this moment.
Xicrona Café is another place to eat and drink well in Tiradentes. It’s a new place, opened in 2015, but its owners, Luiz Andre Nogueira and Ana de Navarro, have a long background in the food industry. Among the dishes and drinks they offer, the customers’ attention is caught by the coffee, the tasty sandwiches, and the desserts. And here the highlight is the incredible Goiabada Tragaluz—a slice of roasted guava with cream cheese syrup covered by cashew nuts and ice cream. And try Xicrona’s special sandwich made with pão de queijo (another specialty from Minas Gerais) stuffed with pork and spices, and a nice cup of espresso.
The bistro offers its own brand of coffee, Xicrona Coffee. It’s a medium- to high-roasted Bourbon coffee with an aromatic citric essence. It’s a double pleasure: one when you feel the brew smell and the other while drinking it. To refresh on the hot days, nothing is better than the cappuccino shake or their “Milkshakespeare,” a very good drink made with frozen cappuccino and whiskey that can be enjoyed on outdoor seats after a day visiting historic sites or the São Jose mountain (which can also be seen a bit closer while traveling in the 133-year-old train to the neighboring city of São Joao Del Rey.)
Next time you think traveling to historic lands might mean having to sacrifice a special coffee experience—think again, and head to Tiradentes.