Rio de Janeiro has a vibrant food scene thanks to its melting pot of flavours, cultures and multicultural communities comprised of people of Portuguese, African and Asian descent. If you’re in Rio for the Olympics, don’t get lost in yet another tourist-ridden restaurant, and forget those fries at the stadium kiosk – there are some great restaurants to seek out in between events.
There are two main spots where sports fans will find themselves: Copacabana and Barra da Tijuca. If you’re in Deodoro and Maracana for other sporting events, it might be worth taking the Metro to the centre for a more diverse offering of food.
Even locals go to The Bakers for breakfast, which is a block away from the famous Copacabana Beach. Brazilians like to start their day with some pastries, bread and, of course, a decent cup of South American coffee. Grab something and head straight to the beach. Brazilian classics include pao de queijo (a cheese bread made from tapioca starch) with coffee. The desserts, pies and other treats are great for an afternoon snack.
Confeitaria by Lopes is a nice spot to pick up some baked goods, too. All breads are made from scratch and have been touted as the city’s best.
If you want something more substantial for breakfast, head straight to the iconic Copacabana Palace hotel. First-class brunch is a little expensive but the ingredients are fresh at this elaborate breakfast buffet. Choose anything from fresh fruit, charcuterie and even traditional Brazilian dishes normally eaten for dinner served for brunch.
Lunch on the beach is easy, with a wide range of options. For budget eats, Baixo Gao is where Brazilians go for their national dish, feijoada. A traditional pork and black bean stew served in a huge portion to give you bang for your buck.
If you want to eat healthily, Zaza Bistro Tropical is a family-owned restaurant with a strong focus on healthy, organic and vegetarian dishes. Save room for the delicious dessert.
Azumi is just one of the thousands of Japanese-inspired restaurants in Brazil, yet diners line up at this rather small and comforting restaurant for some of the best sushi around. The Caipisake – a twist on the classic caipirinha cocktail, using Japanese rice wine in place of cachaca rum – is also a must.
For something more traditional and with a little bit of history, drop into Espirito Santa. The mansion in Santa Teresa offers sweeping views of the city and the Amazonian feast is unique to this Brazilian restaurant. Top dishes include the moqueca and the slow-roasted pork. The cocktails are made from fresh Amazonian fruits.
You can’t visit Rio and not eat Brazilian barbecue at a churrascaria. Relative newcomer Fogo de Chao is a good place for carnivores looking for top-quality meats and excellent sides. Ask for a seat by the window and have dinner looking at the amazing Sugarloaf Mountain.
More Rio inspiration:
Barra da Tijuca
Barra da Tijuca is hosting more than 20 events during Rio2016. Known as the Americanised region of Rio, it has a growing number of restaurants and shopping malls to explore.
For breakfast there is a range of great bakeries around the neighbourhood but Dona Olinda Padaria e Delicatessen is where you can grab anything from fresh deli meats, house-made bread and cheese to start your day right.
The shopping malls are where locals go for quick and easy lunches. Rio/Brasa is at the top of the list, with its recent opening in Barra and excellent Brazilian meats and seafood for those looking for a LOT of food. Also in a shopping mall is Pobre Juan, an Argentinean steakhouse found everywhere in Brazil. The high-quality meat and parilla are great, but be sure to get the tapas-style plates to try a bit of everything.
For something by the beach, the famous kiosk Barraca do Pepe is a sought-after spot. Tasty sandwiches, snacks and fun cocktails start in the afternoon and carry throughout the night.
For something more intimate, Cavist Vinoteca & Resto is also worth visiting, with an extensive wine list exceeding 3,000 and delicious seafood and meat like the wild boar.
Claude Troisgros is Rio’s most celebrated chef and his son has turned his name into an empire with CT Boucherie. With various outposts, the one in Barra is a great spot in between events. The all-you-can-eat rodizio style is one of the best, with some great sides to accompany well-seared meats made to order.