Now you very well know I can’t go somewhere and not talk about the food. I wouldn’t say that Rio is known as a food destination, but it certainly has a lot to offer in the way of gastronomy if you know where to look. Most popular are the Brazilian churrascarias, serving slow roasted meats in a variety of cuts. But, having lived in Brazil for four months now, we were looking for something a bit different. Something a little lighter and more delicate and well, less beefy, since we knew we were headed to Argentina soon where meat may be even more popular than in Brazil.
Good Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro
Our first choice was a cute and eclectic place we’d visited the last time we were in Rio, ZaZá Bistrô Tropical in Ipanema. Both times, we visited for lunch when we could sit on the patio and enjoy watching people come walking past from the beach a few blocks over. The atmosphere is very chill and serene, with buddhas and inspirational quotes all over the place.
The menu is, as you would guess, very tropical with a wide range of flavors. They have meaty dishes, but also a lot of seafood and vegetarian options.
I had a delicious chicken and banana curry (top), while Tom ordered the day’s special – a shrimp dish with coconut rice (bottom left). We’re not entirely sure what the sauce was, since the menu was in portuguese and, dammit, we’re still not anywhere close to fluent in the language. Everything was delicious though. Tom’s dish came with a free dessert (bottom right), so we shared a fresh fruit salad with citrus sorbet that was perfectly light and refreshing.
Another notable meal we had was at sleek and trendy Restaurante Quitéria located in the Hotel Ipanema Inn. There are à la carte options at this restaurant, but the tasting menus start at $40 for 5 courses. Why not go for it?
The dishes were fun and inventive, featuring things like a mini steak and baked potato (upper left), cured salmon with cachaca (upper right), a perfectly cooked corn, ricotta and spinach raviolo (bottom left) and duck with pumpkin and vanilla cream (bottom right). We topped everything off with a delicious Malbec from Argentina, a foreshadowing of the week to come.
Other Good Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro:
Fasano al Mare: Great for an affordable business lunch with easy access from Ipanema beach.
Confeiteria Columbo: One of the most elegant coffee shops in the world (truly), for pastries or sandwiches.
Bar Astor: One of the only real-deal bars in Ipanema offering ocean views.
Mee: A Michelin-Star Asian fusion restaurant in Copacabana.
Bar Urca: Mentioned in my last post, perfect for low-key eats and a great view.
Via Sete: For inventive burgers.
Sá: For an elegant, special occasion dinner.
Blue Agave: For a hip, expat vibe, head here in the evening for drinks and Mexican fare.
Os Imortais: A Copacabana bar with ice-cold chopp (draft beer) and snacks.