BEST RESTAURANTS (AND BAR)
If you're undecided about what to eat, Leblon is considered one of the best areas in town for bars and restaurants, many of which are along Rua Dias Ferreira. Otherwise, most places can be reached by taxi within 15-20 minutes from Copacabana.
Flamengo. Av. Infante Dom Henrique, S/N. +55 (21) 3389-8989.
A must-eat experience for any visitor to Rio, you’ll need to pace yourself to make the most of this all-you-can-eat grilled meats extravaganza known as the riodizio. Avoid filling up on the enormous buffet, beckoning with all sorts from pretty average sushi to steamtrays of hot entrees. Instead, save room for the lombo (loin) and rack of lamb and then the prized picanha of beef, or top sirloin. There’s another branch in Ipanema, but this location has views over the Guanabara Bay and Corcovado and is perfectly situated to check out Rio Scenarium (see below), where you can dance off some of the meal. Reais73/$40 per person, NOT including drinks.
Casa da Feijoada
Ipanema. Rua de Moraes, 10B. +55 (21) 2247-2776.
Widely considered THE place to try one of Brazil’s national dishes - the feijoada completa - any day of the week. You’ll need to save plenty of room for this hearty meal of pork and black bean stew, sprinkled with farofa, eaten with rice, kale and orange slices, then washed down with cachaca. All you have to do is decide which meat and/or offal you want with your meal and the staff take care of the rest, neatly serving up all the components onto one large plate with plenty of extra helpings leftover. Finish the meal with a dramatic display of vacuum-brewed coffee, made in a contraption involving two glass globes, water, grinds and a small flame. Reais165/$85 for 2 people.
Santa Teresa. Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 428 A. +55 (21) 2224-1003.
(English and Portuguese)
A must for lunch, this adorable, low-key restaurant (with a spotless bathroom) specializes in fish and seafood dishes, most notably their Bahian-style moquecas (stews, pronounced mo-KEH-ka). We started with the lunch special shrimp patties (like empanadas), which were incredibly delicate and delicious. Then we ordered what our neighbor was having, the dourado moqueca served with pirao, a somewhat gluey-er version of soft polenta made with manioc flour (known as cassava flour, sometimes sold as Gari) and boiling fish stock. The fish was perfectly cooked simmered in a coconut milk-enriched, tomato-based liquor, perfectly complemented by the savoury pirao. I wanted to eat the whole thing but the portion was just too big!
Centro. Rua Gonçalves Dias, 32. +55 (21) 2505-1500.
Since its founding by Portuguese immigrants in 1894, this stunning cafe and restaurant has been a popular meeting and dining spot among Rio’s elite. Not just a “confeitaria” (confectionary or sweet shop) the opulent space features a cafe downstairs where sweet and salty snacks can be ordered, while the more formal dining area upstairs serves feijoada on Saturdays. The decor is a sight to behold, from the huge mirrors imported from Antwerp and the Italian marble tabletops to the ornate Portuguese tiles on the floor and the colourful stained glass overhead, all in the tradition of the grand European cafes.
Leblon. Rua Dias Ferreira, 256. +55 (21) 2512-7830.
The place to see and be seen, this sleek little sushi spot gets very crowded (long waits are spent on the street), but the good quality sushi and fun vibe makes for a terrific lighter meal. Reais 105 ($50) for two with several rolls and a couple drinks.
Academia da Cachaca
Leblon. Rua Conde Bernadotte, 26. +55 (21) 2529-2680.
The place to sample cachaca pura (pure) or in a batida (tropical fruit cocktail) like the popular caipirinha. There’s a decent-sized menu of regional Brazilian specialities to keep you reasonably sober, and pavement seating. Second branch in Barra da Tijuca.
Ipanema. Rua Vinicius de Moraes, 134. +55 (21) 2527-2656. (Portuguese only)
Considered one of the best in Rio for proper wood-fired pizzas, we came here for a late night feed after dancing it up at the Rio Scenarium. To our great surprise, there was a massive antipasti bar, one of the best (and priciest) we’d ever come across. Just before closing, it was nearly empty but this exclusive hotspot is usually one of the harder places to get into.
The other “best pizza” contender is Sao Paolo favourite Bráz (Rua Maria Angelica, 129, +55 (21) 2535-0687, ).
Santa Teresa. Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 264. +55 (21) 2508-7095.
This is modern Brazilian cuisine and a hip bar with a sizeable leafy verandah looking out over historical Santa Teresa.
Copacabana. Avenida Prado Junio, 335 (sit down)/ Barata Ribeiro, 07-B (bar, no seating). +55 (21) 2275-6147
All-night sandwich shop with pineapple the signature ingredient for many of their dozens of different varieties.
Ipanema. Rua BarÃo da Torre, 192. +55 (21) 2521-0627.
One of Rio’s most consistently top-rated seafood restaurants, Mediterranean style.
Ipanema. Rua Gomes Carneiro, 132. +55 (21) 2422-0303.
Not the most atmospheric of places (along a main street and a bit old and tired) but it was a great spot for our 11pm Monday arrival. An appetizing antipasti buffet was followed by a nicely cooked lobster.
Where to Eat: Rio
Who doesn't love melted cheese? Provoleta at Porcao Rios.
Perfect end to a filling meal: neat vaccuum (or siphon) brew at Casa da Feijoada
Rack of lamb
Confeitaria Colombo. The perfect stop after taking the tram down from Sta Theresa
Dishing up the feijoada completa, at Casa da Feijoada
Huge selection of sweet and salty treats at Confeitaria Colombo
Beautiful Old World surrounds for a coffee and pastry
Antipasti buffet spread at Capricciosa - pricey but tasty