A few blocks from São Paulo’s Praça da República, is Ponto Chic, a traditional Brazilian eatery whose menu features at least a hundred options. Among these, Ponto Chic is most famous for just one: the Bauru. Bauru is a Brazilian city in the Midwestern region of the state of São Paulo. But the sandwich isn’t named for the region Bauru, but rather after a student from it.
The first of the three Ponto Chic locations opened in 1922. But its famous sandwich was invented in 1934 when Ponto Chic was a student hangout. One day, as the story goes, Casemiro Pinto Neto, a student at the Faculdade de Direito do Largo de São Francisco, came into the restaurant feeling hungry. He asked the cook to slice open a Pão Francês (Brazilian French baguette), pull out some of the bread inside, and to layer it with melted cheese, roast beef, and two slices of tomato. “This is the real Bauru,” Casemiro is quoted as saying on Ponto Chic’s website:
“When I was eating the sandwich, Antonio Boccini Jr., who was very greedy, took a piece of my sandwich and liked it. Then he shouted to the waiter, who was a Russian named Alex, ‘I want a Bauru.’ From then on, when referring to the sandwich, everyone would say, I want a Bauru."
Traditionally, the sandwich, which costs R$14,90 (about $8.30), features roast beef, but ham is also used. And while mozzarella is often cited as the cheese, Ponto Chic is said to actually use a blend of four cheeses, which are melted in a bain-marie before being poured over the meat. Besides tomato slices, the Bauru also contains pickles.
The soft, hollowed-out bread has a thin, crispy, flaking crust, with moist roast beef inside. It positively oozes with cheese, as if during the first few bites, there’s an endless supply to come, the acid of the tomatoes and the pickles adding more juice and a tart accent. You can’t visit São Paulo without stopping for one.
Ponto Chic, Largo do Paiçandu, 27, São Paulo, Brazil - 11/3222-6528