Mercado Novo, BH’s market, brings gastronomic excitement to the city center

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O Belo Horizonte New Market can be seen as a place of contradictions. Despite the name, its history is old and, to say the least, beyond interesting.

Its proportions are grandiose, but for decades it operated in a dormant fashion with just a few stores. Right in the center of the capital of Minas Gerais, it remained for a long time in the shadows of its more popular and touristic brother, the Central Market.

Today, however, the story is different. In its four active floors, including the ground floor, we note the presence of a restaurant, brewery, cachaça, a variety of stores, services, a fair, among other different types of businesses.

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the market introduces us to gastronomic, social and cultural life buzzing through the corridors. Right away you can see that the rustic architecture and the retro decoration are trademarks of the area. With a charming informality, we are invited to be part of the meeting of the most diverse urban tribes.

All this hubbub, however, kicked off in 2018, the year in which Distribuidora Goitacazes and Cozinha Tupis were inaugurated, a brewery and restaurant on the third floor of the market, businesses that were the precursors of a welcome space revitalization.

The market over the years

The history of the Mercado Novo in Belo Horizonte is peculiar. Inaugurated in 1963, it was an unprecedented trade promise in the capital of Minas Gerais, built with the mentality of being a complement to the Central Market.

We can see that the project was ambitious: originally there would be a thousand stores, which would make it one of the biggest markets not only in the Minas region but also in the country. But its trajectory did not go as planned. Over time, most of its stores were unoccupied and the market fell to an idle pace.

It ended up being filled by service businesses over the years, such as printers and workshops, which to this day we see a lot around here. Thus, the enterprise did not become the “market” as expected.

Considered to be asleep, the secret, however, was within the place itself. It was based on his strong personality, the diversity of services offered and their knowledge that, in 2018, a group of entrepreneurs from Cervejaria Viela, handcrafted in the capital of Minas Gerais, opened two businesses – one opposite the other – and the revitalization of the Mercado Novo began.

With that, there was an unexpected frenzy of people with the opening of the business. The interest turned out to be organic and in a very short time, approximately after a year, more than 150 boxes that were stopped were rented on the same floor.

With that, a noteworthy movement emerges: the Old New Market, a group of leaders within the market that works with the mission of organizing the sudden interest in the piece. Everything is done with care, because what they want is not to expel people who have been there for decades, but to show their due value to the Belo Horizonte and integrate old businesses with newcomers.

Those who arrive there wanting to rent a box, for example, are guided by the movement about the authenticity of the market and the behavior taken by everyone, since the renovations must follow a specific aesthetic: that of the Mercado Novo itself, without escaping from the originality found here.

The difference we see between Distribuidora Goitacazes, part of the movement, and the neighboring Jurema candle store, there for more than 40 years, is just their age, as the artisanal principles and the appreciation of the small producer are the same.

gastronomy and social life

At Mercado Novo, we can witness Belo Horizonte as a creative city of gastronomy, which allows entrepreneurs to transform good ideas and traditions into businesses that benefit the surroundings. Thus, the new phase of the market is filled with points that mix art, design, gastronomy and culture.

Cool, he has several young names behind the new stalls and brings together a little of everything: informality, good food and drink, which has attracted both locals and tourists. It’s worth getting lost in the corridors without haste and enjoying each snack bar and shop, from the ground floor to the top floor, contemplating a mix between the past and the present.

With that in mind, I highlight the Cachaçaria Lamparina, a house with a decoration reminiscent of old warehouses and which works exclusively with artisanal and family-produced cachaças, one of the great wealth of Minas Gerais.

Like a good pub, the cool thing is to lean against the counter and interact with the employees, always asking for that special dose of “marvada”. Founders of cachaça, Guilherme Costa and Thales Campomizzi travel around the state in order to visit stills, learn about the production process and enrich the portfolio of options.

Tip: try Macunaíma, a Brazilian cocktail that came out of Bar Mouth of Gold, in São Paulo, and it has already conquered the taste – and the heart – of the miners, as well as the Bombeirinho, which is refreshing, similar to juice, but with the difference of having alcohol and a predominance of lemon.

In addition to cachaça and crackling, we all know that Mines it is the land of cheese bread. Innovating and making the delicacy beautiful is Cheese Bread, which sells traditional delicacies both in the Mercado Novo and in a store in the Savassi neighborhood.

The interesting thing is that they have a menu with more than 10 types of cheese bread, which are filled with bologna, chicken and even pulled pork ribs with melted Minas cheese! The menus of the two stores differ, bringing exclusivity and more unusual creations to us.

Once at Mercado Novo, don’t miss the aforementioned Tupi cuisine, under the command of chef and businessman Henrique Gilberto. On the third floor, the restaurant presents us with reinterpretations of Minas Gerais delicacies very well made for lunch, those that we want to snack on without stopping. There’s always the dish of the day: a meat or vegetable with a choice of five more sides. The ingredients are fresh and the menu is constantly changing.

What stays fixed, however, is the best part of the entire experience: the counter. It was recreated based on the counters of popular restaurants on the floors below the market, based on this very strong Minas culture.

The kitchen is all open, and we can see all the ingredients and the coming and going of the employees right in front of us. As Henrique himself points out, the best experience in Belo Horizonte is to go to the bars and chat – which definitely happens here in a natural and casual way.

And, of course, two things can’t be missing: the good old crackling and the cold beer. Together, they form one of the DNAs of Minas – which is very present in the entire market.

Reference: CNN Brasil

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