Rio de Janeiro shines in quality and diversity of the food it offers. From street vendors, to "all you can eat", to fine international dining, Rio has places to eat and drink.
Most restaurants start with a couvert (coo-vert). Consisting of a basket of goods, such as bread or rolls with assorted spreads, it is the start to most meals. Note that it is complimentary and is charged per person.
Brazil is full of unique, tropical ingredients that can be found not only in their food, but in their drinks.
Caipirinha: Made of cachaça (a Brazilian liquor made of sugarcane juice), lime, sugar and ice cubes.
Garana (gwa-ra-NAH): Soda made of an Amazon seed
Mate Gelado (MAHTCH): sweet ice tea mostly served by beach vendors
Agua de coco (ah-gwa-djee-KOH-ku): natural coconut water
Caldo de cana (caw-do-djee-KAH-na): sugarcane juice
Acai(ah-sah-EEH): Common fruit with a dark-purple pulp out of which juices and ice-creams are made. There are many specialized juice shops that make the juice fresh so you can create your own mix. One of the best places is the small chain of juice bars called "Big Bi's". Great value, selection, and many locations make it an excellent option.
Coffee: Brazilians like their strong, hot and sweet. In the morning, it comes with milk (café com leite). For the rest of the day, regular coffee (cafezinhos)is served in a glass or an espresso-sized cup.
Workers are generally tipped 10%. The service industry typically makes the minimum wage and tips are appreciated and essential. In restaurants the service charge will usually be included in the bill and is mandatory. It is acceptable to tip more for exceptional service.
Tipping is not customary in places like juice stands, bars, coffee corners, street and beach vendors, but it is appreciated. Parking assistants typically receive no wages and are dependent on tips, usually R$2 per transaction. Gas-station attendants, shoe shiners and barbers may also be tipped. Most people round up taxi fares to the nearest real, but tipping is not expected.
Street food is plentiful and there are familiar foods, as well many local specialties. Roasted peanuts, popsicles, cold beer and home-made sandwiches (sanduiche natural), plus:
Biscoitos de polvilho: sour flour puffs
Queijo coalho grilled cheese on sticks which is barbecued on order
Cocada: candied coconut
Pé-de-moleque: peanut brittle Popcorn: offered in push carts, there is salty or sweet (with sugar and cocoa powder) Churros: Sausage shaped deep fried dough filled with a choice of doce-de-leite caramel or chocolate sauce
Rio is famous for its bar culture. Botequim or boteco designate small places serving beer, cheap eats, with low prices. There are also many cheap food carts selling things like barbecued shrimp, sandwiches, and juices. If you are looking for a more extensive meal, a kilo restaurant (comida a kilo) offers a buffet in which price is determined by the weight of the food. There are also cafeterias (or lanchonete) which offer pastel or salgado (local pastry) for less than R$2.
An inexpensive place for appetizers and chope (draft beer), a botequim or boteco can be found everywhere and is a part of the Brazilian lifestyle. Bracarense (85, José Linhares street, Leblon), is one of the most traditional establishments.
Devassa- This bar makes its own beer, with the most popular brews being the blond (loura), redhead (ruiva), and brunette (morena).
Address: Rua General San Martin, 1241, Leblon, Rio de Janeiro.
Tel: +55 21 2259 8271
Garcia e Rodrigues- This bistro/bakery has a simple menu that includes sandwiches, cheese plates, risottos, grilled steak and seafood. Try the grilled salmon in orange-saffron sauce or one of its famous baked delicacies.
Address: Av. Ataulfo de Paiva 1251, Leblon, Ipanema/Leblon, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 2512 8188
Da Silva- traditional Portuguese fare of salads, seafood and meats as well as many bacalhau dishes. Excellent lunch buffet in Ipanema, Rio.
Address: 4th floor Av Graca Aranha, 187, Centro, Rio de Janeiro.
Tel: +55 21 2524 1010
Shenanigan's Irish Pub- If you are yearning for some foreign fare, Shenanigan's serves classic Irish food with a mug of cold beer. Tap Beer, imports, and whiskey can all be had here.
Address: Ipanema - Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 112 A, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 2267 5860
Braseiro Da Gávea- one of the most popular bars in Rio, it is also known as Baixo da Gavea.
Address: Praca Santos Dumont, 116, Gávea, Rio de Janeiro.
Tel: +55 21 2239 7494
Bar d'Hotel- Italian cuisine and cocktails are mixed with other cultures with unusual concoctions like the 'Sake Caipirinha', 'Champagne cocktail' or the 'Lemon sorbet mixer'. Beautiful ocean views from the bar are also an attraction.
Address: 696 Avenida Delfim Moreira Marina Hotel, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 2540 4990
Academia da Cachaca - Serves about 500 varieties of cocktails and Caiparinhas served by expert bartenders.
address: 26 Rua Conde de Bernadotte Leblon, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 2529 2680
Melt- Combining American and Mexican cuisine, there are also cocktails, Belgian beers, Caiparoskas. A stylish interior is inspired by New York and has a dance floor that keeps the crowds happy from dinner till the early morning.
Address: 47 Rua Rita Ludolf Leblon, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 3686 6465
When eating at street vendors and small shops, do so with caution. Regulations for cooking establishments can be quite lax and it is important to your health to only patron places that maintain sanitary conditions.
Rich in ingredients, Rio has made an art form of some of its most famous dishes. Search out dishes that are true Carioca, a term used for anything deriving from Rio. Feijoada is the best example of a traditional Rio meal. A hearty stew made with black beans sausages, pork and beef, this dish is typically served on Saturdays. Casa da Feijoada in Ipanema actually specializes in the dish. It often comes with side dishes of rice, cassava (which is roasted manioc), collard greens, fried pork rinds, and orange slices.
Inexpensive eateries are everywhere, but if you want the posh experience Dias Ferreira street in Leblon is Rio's up-and-coming restaurant row. Other options include:
Delicacies form the ocean figure prominently into local cuisine as the water is a part of the culture. Shrimp, lobster, calamari, shellfish, clams, mollusks and many different fish can be found on practically any menu in the city. Sobrenatural (Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 432 Santa Teresa) has some of the freshest fish in Rio. In addition, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday there is live samba and chorinho music..
A rodízio (all-you-can-eat service) is an excellent option whatever your craving. Seafood, pizza, or appetizers are all available, but churrascaria are the most popular with grilled meats. Marius, Porcão, Carretão and Monchique Churrascaria (av Copacabana, 796 Copacabana, Rio De Janeiro) are some of the best.
If you are looking for something from abroad, Brazil actually has the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan. Sushi is popular and Benkei is one of the best restaurants in the area. It offers an "all you can eat" buffet.
Braz - Serves the best pizza in Rio
Address: Rua Maria Angelica, 129, Jardim Botânico
Tel: +55 21 2535 0687
Satyricon - Seafood restaurant serves their dishes grilled with different sauces. For dessert, it offers one of the best tiramisu in Rio. On Saturdays the restaurant also serves a seafood buffet.
Address: Ipanema: Rua Barao da Torre,192, Rio de Janeiro; Buzios: Orla Bardot, 500, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 2521 0627, +55 22 2623 2691
Madame Butterfly- One of the best Japanese restaurants in Rio.
Address: Rua Barão de Torre 472, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 2267 4347
Amir- Middle Eastern fare of hummus, koftes, kibbe, and falafel served near the beach.
Address: Rua Ronald de Carvalho, 55C, Copacabana Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 2275 5596
Hotel Cipriani Restaurant- Traditional Italian cuisine with interesting innovations like eggplant gnocchi with tomato and basil sauce and Carlina's style scampi with rice and curry.
Address: Avenida Atlântica 1702, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 2548 7070
Yoruba- Bahian food like moqueca with shrimp and coconut. The atmosphere is quite unique with flickering candles and leaves scattered across the ground.
Address: Rua Arnaldo Quintela, 94, Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 2541 9387
Casa Da Suica- Swiss delicacies of steaks and fondues can be found within the Swiss Embassy.
Address: Rua Candido Mendes, 157, Gloria, Rio de Janeiro.
Tel: +55 21 2509 3870
Olympe- One of best chefs in Brazil, Chef Claude Troisgros, owns this restaurant. Specializes in French and Brazilian cuisine.
Address: Rua Custódio Serrão, nº 62 - Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: +55 21 2539 4542
For more restaurant recommendations, the New York Times has a dining guide.