Sao Paulo and Mrs Jaguar

Meet Janaina Rueda, generous chef from Bar da Dona Onça and social activist

Janaina Rueda, chef at the helm of Bar da Dona On

Janaina Rueda, chef at the helm of Bar da Dona Onça, one of the most popular restaurants in Sao Paulo, Brazil

At the foot of the famous Edificio Copan, designed by architect Oscar NiemeyerJanaina Rueda has created a restaurant that changed the recent landscape of Sao Paulo. The historic centre used to be one of the most glamourous areas in town, the bohemian heart and the home to many artists and prominent designers. A perfect mix of underground vibrations, urban art and nightclubs. Over the past few years, it became a forgotten and deteriorated neighbourhood. Now, with the help of Casa do Porco, it is once again a popular, elegant and cool area, thanks to its restaurants.  

Rueda was born and has spent most of her life here. She knows every little corner of the neighbourhood. Before opening Bar da Dona Onça she was a sommelier. Dona Onça means “Mrs Jaguar”, a nickname revealing the strong personality of the chef, who’s also a very skilled businesswoman.

Almost without noticing, she started creating a menu made of nostalgic family dishes, paired with recipes that were more in tune with the bohemian side of Sao Paulo and others that were disappearing from urban restaurants. Open every day at lunchtime and in the evening, Bar da Dona Onça’s guests often go there because they feel at home. Clients include the Roca brothersMichel BrasFerran Adrià and Daniel Humm. But it is also the home to Brazilian musicians, families, writers and other prominent figures from all around the world. The chef, an extraordinary woman, supports artists too and welcomes to her restaurant singers, painters, designers and members of the gay and lesbian community. 

Janaina Rueda’s modern galinhada (photo

Janaina Rueda’s modern galinhada (photo

The food is delicious and rich. It’s founded on a true obsession for fresh and seasonal products. All the pasta, for instance, is homemade, and the organic chicken comes from small family businesses. The modern version of Galinhada and her Feijoada are the best in the country and received many prices. Beef Stroganoff, offal, rich stews and Brazilian couscous: you’ll find the true soul of the Paulist megalopolis in her dishes.

If you visit the bar, don’t miss signature cocktails such as Onça Pintada Caipirinha or Pinga Colada, or Leopard's Milk, a vintage liqueur made with cachaça. There’s a strong use of soft drinks too, made by natural producers – she won’t even consider using industrial products or with chemical additives.

Inside the restaurant (photo

Inside the restaurant (photo

In the past few years, Janaina Rueda has taken on many important social missions: she offers fresh and genuine food to schools, with the government of Sao Paulo she directs pioneering innovative projects, she teaches natural and home cooking to teachers who work in schools for children in need. She believes in the aggregating power of food, she’s in favour of tolerance and against every kind of discrimination.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Bar da Dona Onça
Avenida Ipiranga, 200 – 27/29
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Average prices: starters 30, main courses 55, desserts 20 real
Closed on Sunday in the evening 


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