Ladies and gentleman, why do we vacation to new and exotic places? To meet new people? pshh can’t do that in my own language nonetheless a different one…Maybe it’s to learn something new about a different culture? sure, sure…How about simply to escape work and relax? ummm, what are local bars for?…the obvious answer, and the only real reason to travel is… FOOD! Eating as much as possible, with as many variations as possible, because, damn it, I deserve it! This is my time, and who knows when I will be back to be able to try it all again, so to answer your question…. YES!!… I will take seconds, thirds, and the desert menu as well, thank you very much!
Here is a list of our favorite restaurants in Rio!!
a Brazilian steakhouse, is the most coveted of Brazilian gastronomy, having gained international popularity for its unique service model. A single entrance price gives you access to unlimited amounts of mouthwatering cuts of meat, making it a carnivore’s fantasy! The meat is served slice by slice by a professional server who rotates from table to table. Many times your eyes will be bigger than your stomachs, but that’s okay, because this is your time to indulge in overeating. A full buffet of other brazilian dishes, as well as sushi, salads and other tasty goods, awaits the more diverse eater.
The top choices are: Fogo de Chao (Botafogo), Churrascaria Palace (Copacabana), Carretão (Ipanema).
Brazil’s national dish, is a must try during your stay. Although extremely heavy, this bean pork stew is the local’s favorite (for good reason!). There is also some history behind the dish. Feijoada originated during Brazil’s slavery era, where the slaves were only given rice beans and the leftovers from the pig. With that, and some spices, the stew was made. Since then, the dish has been developed some, and in the process, has permeated to all tastebuds, becoming a staple in the Brazilian diet. You can find feijoada all throughout the city, but two of the best choices are:
Academia da Cachaca in Leblon: a casual setting in Leblon with dispersed seating and an entire home brewed menu of Cachaça (brazil’s national alcohol made from national sugar cane)! After eating feijoada it is a custom to wash it down with some cachaça and orange.
Second, is the very traditional Bar do Mineiro in Santa Teresa’s main square, a fun neighborhood. Mineiros are people from Minas Gerais, a state bordering Rio de Janeiro, and have arguably the best and most original Brazilian food.
A high class, wonderfully located, tree-house designed restaurant, with thatched roofs and high level woodwork, overlooking the twinkling city center below. It sits high up in Santa Teresa, and has a wonderful menu of a variety of cuisines. A super pleasant experience.
Terezé and Rústico are fantastic as well (same area)
Braseiro, another local favorite in Copacabana, has been around for decades. It seats a total of 20 or so people around the counter, and has kept the same design as when it started. It feels as if you go back in time to the early Copacabana years. It is a casual atmosphere, so leave your fancy clothes at home. You sit down, you order, the food is prepared in front of you, you eat, you pay, you go. Perfect for an after the beach, I am starving, stop before heading home. It has the typical rice, beans, veggies, and meat menu that every brazilian and foreigner alike love. Simplicity is the name of the game.
Zaza gets away from the Brazilian cuisine, infusing Arabian and Indian tastes in its place, making for a fantastic oriental meal. Located in Ipanema, a block from the beach. The dining experience is top class with its oriental runs, low couch and comfy stool sitting, and zen atmosphere (no shoes allowed whilst you sit). It is highly recommended.
Sociedade Hípica Brasileira is located next to the Jockey Club in Lagoa, and houses the equestrian fields and horses of the city. It is a fantastically charming place with a restaurant inside, where as you eat you can enjoy the horses going through their dancing routines. Also you can take a walk around the stables and see many of the horses after your meal as an added bonus.
Babylonia – Bar do David
For a different dining experience altogether, go to Babylonia-Bar do David. Going there brings you up through one of the smaller, pacified favela communities, located above Leme (at the far end of Copacabana), which adds to the whole experience of it. The restaurant itself is small, and charming, with sidewalk seating, positioned on a calm street. David, the proud owner, couldn’t be nicer or more welcoming. His small restaurant has gained international acclaim for its delicious array of Brazilian cuisine done right.
Few restaurants in the world can beat the view that Lage has. It sits high atop Vidigal, a pacified favela just west of Ipanema Beach, located on the towering rock faces of the Dois Irmãos (two brothers). The route up the hill is a thrilling one, as you dodge the many vehicular and human obstacles that fill the main street of the community. The restaurant serves typical Brazilian cuisine, simple, but delicious. Its calling card, again, being the view. Eating is great, eating while staring at a postcard perfect view of Rio de Janeiro, even better.
Mr. Lam epitomizes the top of the ethnic cuisine market in Rio. Mr. Lam is an internationally acclaimed chef, owning famous Mr. Chow restaurants in London and New York. He serves a Pequin cuisine and everything is of top quality, from the food, to the drinks, to the overall presence in the restaurant. It is located a stone’s throw from the Lagoa, which is ideal, as it allows you to stuff yourself and then burn some of those calories with a nice walk.
Olympe ranks among the most expensive restaurants in Rio, but its quality is unparalleled. It’s a full gastronomical experience, with top level chefs. They use natural Brazilian fruits in uncanny combination dishes, among other tasty recipes, that will leave your palate craving more. If you are looking to indulge in fine dining, you won’t go wrong here.
Streets and bars:
Rua Dias Ferreira, Leblon, is a perfect street to casually walk down, skimming menus, until the right restaurant jumps out at you. It is filled with scrumptious delights and food of high quality. Whether you are looking for a small bite, a full meal, or even just a drink, this Leblon main street will not lead you astray.
Rua Pacheco Leao, Jardim Botanico, is a quiet and charming street behind the botanical gardens. Its restaurants are small, colonial, and delicious. Coupled with a night time samba band, this street is worth a visit.
Radius of Garcia D’avila – Barão da Torre in Ipanema, is filled with nice restaurants and bars of every type, from Italian, to Peruvian, from tapas, to Japanese. Obviously a plethora of Brazilian food as well. In this 4 square block area you are bound to find what you are looking for, along with the nice walk that comes with it.
Largo dos Guimaraes, Santa Teresa, is the centerpiece of Santa Teresa, a fabulously charming french style neighborhood with countless nice restaurants. It is absolutely worth investigating. Don’t be hasty in choosing either, as the restaurants are abundant, and the options diverse.
Rua Ouvidor, Centro, is a not as traveled by the common tourist, yet is a happening pedestrian street with music, outdoor seating, and lots of energy! If you are looking for something different, you will find it there!
Rua Conde de Irajá, Botafogo, has a couple high quality restaurants that people come for all over the city to enjoy. Botafogo is a happening neighborhood, yet you need to know where to go to find the gems. These restaurants you can’t go wrong.
La Biciclette-Jardim Botânico
One of the most relaxing cafe locations in the city, by the gates of the Jardim Botanico, no other cafe shares this privilege. Its owner’s began as a bakery delivery service to the local neighborhood, and through word of mouth and delicious products, they expanded to various fixed locations, this being the most charming. Their interior design touch is just as nice as their touch in the oven. I promise this place will be remembered!
This Santa Teresa cafe will instantly make you smile upon entrance. Its funky decor is charming and very well done. The food selection is great and there isn’t better place stop to have a coffee while in the neighborhood.
Cafeteira de colombo-Centro
The most traditional cafe in Rio de Janeiro’s history. Located in downtown, is customers are always enchanted by the architecture.
Cafe do Forte – Arpoador
This maybe the best location for a cafe in the world. In between Copacabana and Ipanema, this historical military base houses a cafe that overlooks the bending Copacabana beach, the adjacent waterfront buildings, the Sugarloaf cable car, and the surrounding mountains off in the distance. The entire base has a pleasant walk-around, but this is by far the highlight. Sit down, order, and let the awe-inspiring reality of being in Rio de Janeiro take you over.