There isn’t any particular food that is originated from Rio de Janeiro. Rio is a gastronomic city influenced by the rest of the country and the world. It is very common for the Cariocas to eat at laid-back cafés and bars or barzinho/boteco/botequim. There are plenty of bars around the city and some of them you can find in this map.
Also, Rio people eat later than the rest of the Brazilians. Trust me, you don’t want to wait for a table at a restaurant on a weekend from 1 pm to 3-4 pm and from 8 pm to 10 pm. Everything is so packed! My suggestion is to have lunch at around noon, and for dinner grab a table at 7/7:30.
Typical in Rio
Feijoada is one of the most traditional dishes around the country. It is a classic. Mostly made with black beans and pork, some people may find it a little “strong,” but almost everyone think it is delicious. It is a bit strong, I must agree. One serving can make you full, and it is not the kind of dish you could eat everyday.
You can eat it accompanied with rice, farofa (it looks like sand), collard and orange.
Fact: the “National Feijoada Day” is Saturday!
Where to find:
Antiquarius/Antiquarius Grill: one of the best places around the city for Feijoada (chosen as the best a couple of times), but one of the most expensive. The service is really great though.
Price: around R$ 90 = US$ 40 / person
Pão de Queijo
It translates literally to “cheese bread.” It tastes nothing like bread, but we can’t argue. It is Brazil’s and Rio’s favourite snack, and you can find it everywhere. Just search for any “padaria” or “lanchonete.” And if you still can’t find one, go directly to “Casa do Pão de Queijo” or “Rei do Mate,” every neighbourhood has at least 2.
I suggest buying the portion with the small ones in a big cup.
Price: can sometimes cost less than a dollar.
Matte & Guaraná
No drink can be as Brazilian as Guaraná. It is the best thing on Earth! I’ve never heard one single soul saying they didn’t like it. You can find two types: the soft-drink and the natural.
Natural: perfect refreshment for a day at the beach. The best brands are Guaravita, Guaraviton and Guaracamp. Mind that it is quite sweet.
Price for both: can/cup = less than a dollar in most places
bottle = US$ 2 – 3 = R$ 4 – 7
Most drinks in Brazil are a lot more expensive in restaurants. For example, a can of Guaraná Antarctica costs less than R$ 2 at the market, but at a restaurant it can cost as much as R$ 6/R$ 7.
If you want to have a really nice lunch, dinner or afternoon snack, Gula Gula will make you happy! The food is great, the ambiance is comfortable and the price is reasonable. They have a big variety of fresh salads, and each of them are delicious. For the meals, I suggest the tasty Sliced Sirloin topped with Fettuccine Alfredo (Paillard com Fettuccine Alfredo). This dish is actually quite big, even the one from the kid’s menu. If you want something smaller, try the Brie cheese and apricots quiche (Quiche de Queijo Brie e Damasco). The dessert is indispensable! Order the Doce de Leite Petit Gâteau (Petit Gâteau de Doce de Leite) that is served with Tapioca ice cream.
Balada Mix is loved by the Cariocas! Everything is natural, there are vegan options, the environment is very beach-like, and their juices are really refreshing. The odd Cocoa fruit and Grape (Uva com Cacau) juice (300 ml = R$ 7 / 600 ml = R$ 11) is the most ordered at the restaurant, and it is surprisingly amazing. To eat, people usually order grilled sandwiches (the shiitake one is specially good) with a salad (the Salpicão is great) or Noisette fries (Between R$ 15 – 35). You should also try their fantastic açaí! There is no appropriate hour to eat there. Their menu is good enough for breakfast, lunch, before and after the beach, dinner, and late-night hangouts.
Advice: if the restaurant is too packed, avoid it because the service can get pretty slow.
Location: even though the map only shows one, there are many across the city. Barra da Tijuca has four alone, plus a small version of the chain at the beach called Baladinha (near the Sheraton and Windsor hotels).
Fancy restaurant with Mediterranean style and quality food. Go for the all-you-can-eat option (R$ 66 = US$ 30): pasta prepared the way you want it, amazing buffet, and Italian pizza. Things can’t get much better!
Locations: Casa Shopping, Shopping Leblon and Rio Sul Shopping.
One of my favourite restaurants since a really young age, the not-conventional-Brazilian barbecue house is the right place to go on a Sunday lunch. Going there, pretend that you are a local and just say “Picanha com arroz maluco e palmito pupunha, por favor.” The Picanha steak (you choose which piece you want), rice with eggs, bacon and onions, and the fresh Brazilian pupunha palm, are everything you will ever need from the menu. The food is prepared right in front of you, and you can monitor it. The price is not very friendly, but totally worth it.
Probably the best pizza place in the city! For the entrée, order their Burrata with Prosciutto or Dried Tomatoes. For the pizza, I suggest any from the Gourmet Pizza Menu, but my all time favourite is the Mamma Mia (Brie cheese, apricots jam and roasted almonds). Their focaccias and bruschettes are also delicious.
Their pizzas cost between US$ 20 – 30.
Another Italian place makes the list. This contemporary restaurant is perfect for more formal occasions and it is well frequented. Order their fresh Duck with Orange Ravioli (Ravioli de Pato com Laranja) and ask for a glass of wine. It is also suggested to grab a sit at the bar and enjoy their drinks.
Le Ble Noir
The best crepe you will ever eat. Nothing else to say. Make a reservation to guarantee your table.
This one is not a restaurant, but it is the best chocolate house in the country! There are so many options that you won’t know what to choose! I highly recommend their Martin creamy hot chocolate (Chocolate Quente Martin) with butter cookies, or the Nha Benta (marshmallows with chocolate). You will probably spend about US$ 5 – 10 dollars there, if you can contain yourself.
Ice cream place that embraces the Brazilian culture better than anywhere else. Their flavours are simply amazing and the texture is heavenly. I suggest their Minas Cheese and Doce de Leite (Queijo Minas com Doce de Leite) ice cream or the White Chocolate with Cookies (Chocolate Branco com Biscoito) one. They also have a great seasonal menu (the winter one is indescribable). The scoop costs less than US$ 5.
If you don’t feel like going out, don’t stress! Most Brazilian restaurants have a delivery service, so you can eat anything from the comfort of your hotel bed 🙂
At a Bar (and anywhere else)
- Fresh juice (suco natural)
- Caipirinha (typical Brazilian cocktail with vodka or cachaça and fruits)
- Beer (cerveja)
- Bolinho de Arroz (fried rice cake with bacon and onions)
- Bolinho de Bacalhau (cod croquette)
- Anéis de Lula (deep fried calamari)
- Pastél de Queijo e Carne (savory pastry with cheese and meat filling)
- Coxinha (chicken croquette)
- Mandioca Frita (fried cassava)
- Bolinho de Aipim (cassava croquette)
- Torresmo (toasted pigskin/bacon)
- Calabresa Acebolada (spicy sausage with onions)
- Camarão Frito (fried shrimp/prawn)
- Frango À Passarinho (chicken wings à brasileira)
- Bolinho de Carne Seca (dried meat croquette)
- Pudim de Leite Condensado (Brazilian Flan prepared with Sweet Condensed Milk)
- Brigadeiro (Brazilian Chocolate Bonbon)
- Beijinho (Coconut Balls)
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