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27 places to eat in Rio de Janeiro | Insight Guides Blog

27 places to eat in Rio de Janeiro

Whether you're taking a trip to watch the Rio 2016 Olympic Games or planning a last-minute Latin American adventure, here are the very best places to eat in Rio de Janeiro
Vegetable feijoada. A vegetarian version of the popular Brazilian dish made with black beans, butternut squash and served with rice and salsa. Photo: Shutterstock
Vegetable feijoada. A vegetarian version of the popular Brazilian dish made with black beans, butternut squash and served with rice and salsa. Photo: Shutterstock

Rio's food scene is rich and varied. It's a great place to visit for epicureans who like a Michelin star with their meal, as well as for gastronomic adventurers on the hunt for exotic and soulful flavours. Here's where to find the city's best bites


As one would expect from a beachside city in the tropics, the dining scene in Rio is, on the whole, very casual. It has an interesting mix of cuisines, but can’t compare to somewhere like Sydney or San Francisco in terms of diversity.

At the most basic level are the quiosques, the beach kiosks mainly selling água de coco (coconut water) and beers. Next up, and found everywhere, are lanchonetes, the traditional and simply-decorated snack bars. Most sell fried and baked pastries and a wide range of sucos naturais, fresh fruit juices. The larger lanchonetes quite often have a padaria (bakery) and mercearia (grocery) attached to them and also serve pratos do dia (lunch of the day).

A boteco or botequim is a sort of carioca pub, combining chopes (draft beers) with Brazilian food like bolinhos de bacalhau (cod fritters) and feijoada (black bean stew). They’re generally lively, crowded and have live music at weekends. At lunchtime, many casual restaurants work on a comida a quilo basis (buffet food paid by the weight). Churrascarias are steakhouses, either working on a rodízio basis (all-you-can-eat meats with a buffet of salads) or à la carte (from a menu). A variation on this is a galeteria, specialising in barbecued chicken served at a bar counter.

Regional influences include comida mineira, food from Minas Gerais state, which is rustic and hearty. You’ll also find German food, a multitude of pizzarias, traditional Arab dishes, and laid-back Brazilian sushi bars. Peruvian, Mexican and vegetarian places are growing in popularity, as are artisan beer bars.

In the historic heart of Rio (like the Centro, Santa Teresa and Botafogo), terraced houses turned into restaurants have an old-world bohemian charm. High-end restaurants serving contemporary dishes can be found in the international hotel chains and dotted around the Zona Sul.


Barra da Tijuca

1. Bar do Oswaldo

Estrada do Joá, 3896; tel: 21-2493 1840
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$

Established in 1946 and famous for its sweet batida drinks, this casual boteco has outdoor tables and also serves Brazilian favourites, like steaks and feijoada.

2. Laguna

Ilha da Gigóia; tel: 21-2495 1229
www.restaurantelaguna.com.br
Thu–Fri dinner, Sat–Sun lunch and dinner
$$$

Reservations are required for this candle-lit seafood restaurant on Ilha da Gigóia. Set within tropical gardens on this island in the middle of a lagoon, the only way to get there is by catching a little passenger boat from Barra Point. Around the island are a couple of more casual options, also accessible by boat.


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3. Nativo

Avenida Lúcio Costa, 1976; tel: 21-2486 3949
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$$

On the seafront and with outdoor tables, this casual and comfy eatery serves family favorites, like steaks, pizzas and salads. You can also order acarajé (bean fritter stuffed with a spicy paste), from the Baianas (women dressed in traditional Bahian dresses) on the street corner.

4. Pe’ahi

Avenida do Pepê; tel: 21-2492 1286
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$

Just behind a popular surfing and kitesurfing spot on Barra beach, this chilled out sushi bar is named after the famous Hawaiian surf spot. As you eat your sashimi, you can watch surf videos,then amble into the surfshop.


Botafogo

5. Irajá

Rua Conde de Irajá, 109; tel: 21-2246 1395
www.irajagastro.com.br
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$$$

The emphasis is on contemporary Brazilian cuisine, where traditional dishes are given a creative touch by skilled chefs. The restaurant is set within a renovated historic house, where plants growing in a vertical garden take up one of the walls. Reservations recommended for dinner and weekends.

Confeitaria Colombo in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: APA Publications

Centro

6. Amarelinho

Praça Floriano, 55; tel: 21-2240 8434
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$

A traditional choperia (beer bar and restaurant) serving chopes (draft beers), with pastéis (fried savory pastries, filled with cheese or minced meat), steaks and hearty feijoada.

Founded in 1921, it’s one of Rio’s more traditional spots. It’s nothing fancy, but very typical, where city workers congregate around tables on the square for lunch and happy hours.

7. Atrium

Praça Quinze de Novembro, 48; tel: 21- 2220 0193
Open Mon–Fri for lunch
$$

Set within the 18th-century Paço Imperial (Imperial Palace), contemporary Brazilian dishes are served in a historic dining room, with stone walls, classic furnishings and oil paintings.

8. Bar Brasil

Avenida Mem de Sá, 90, Lapa; tel: 21-2509 5943
Open Mon–Sat for lunch and dinner
$$

Part of Rio’s cultural heritage, and founded in 1907 by Austrians, this traditional neighbourhood bar and restaurant feels like a step back in time. Germanic dishes, like pork cutlets, sausages and sauerkraut are served with cold beers in unfussy surrounds.


These restaurants feature in Insight Guides: Explore Rio de Janeiro. Order your copy online for more local tips  


9. Bar Luiz

Rua da Carioca, 39; tel: 21-2262 6900
www.barluiz.com.br 
Open Mon and Sat for lunch, Tue– Fri for both lunch and dinner
$$

One of the city’s oldest surviving establishments, this botequim has hosted a long roster of illustrious cariocas. Founded in 1887, it moved to its present location near the Largo da Carioca in 1927. The dining room has simple tables, white tablecloths and photos of old Rio. The menu is German.

10. Cais do Oriente

Rua Visconde de Itaboraí, 8; tel: 21-2233 2531
www.caisgourmet.com.br
Open daily for both lunch and dinner
$$$

Located in a listed warehouse built in 1878, with bare-brick walls and close to the docks and city center, this large establishment is spread over three floors and offers a mix of atmospheres and cuisines where East meets West and Brazil meets the Orient.


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Copacabana and Leme

11. Brasileirinho

Avenida Atlântica, 3564, Copacabana; tel: 21-2267 3148
www.cozinhatipica.com.br
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$$

As the name suggests, the ‘Little Brazilian’ serves regional food from Brazil, including steaks, seafood and feijoada. The restaurant, filled with wicker lanterns and all sorts of other craftwork, has a casual and contemporary feel.

12. Cipriani

Avenida Atlântica, 1702, Copacabana; tel: 21-2548 7070
www.belmond.com
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$$$$

This elegant restaurant in the Copacabana Palace Hotel overlooks the cinematic pool, which, illuminated at night, evokes the glamour of the 1920s. The focus is on northern Italian cuisine with contemporary touches. There’s a good wine list and the decor is plush. Reservations are recommended.

13. Marius Degustare

Avenida Atlântica, 290, Leme; tel: 21-2275 0652
www.marius.com.br/2012
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$$$$

In Leme, overlooking the beach, this high-class churrascaria also serves lobster and a whole array of seafood and has a salad bar with vegetables from a private garden. What makes this place most unique is its decoration – with walls covered in shells, fishing nets and memorabilia, it feels like you’re in a mysterious underwater cavern.

Typical local restaurant in Rio. Photo: APA Publications

Flamengo

14. Café Lamas

Rua Marquês de Abrantes, 18; tel: 21-2556 0799
www.cafelamas.com.br
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$$

One of the oldest restaurants in Rio, Café Lamas has served people like President Getúlio Vargas and the celebrated writer Machado de Assis. Founded in 1874, its has simple decor and a traditional menu focused on steaks.


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15. Rotisseria Sirio Libanesa

Largo do Machafo, 29; tel: 21-2205 2047
Open Mon–Sat for breakfast, lunch and dinner
$

This simply-decorated lanchonete specialises in savoury Arab snacks, like kibes and esfirras, as well as meals including grilled meat kebabs with lentils and stuffed cabbage leaves.

16. Tacacá do Norte

Rua Barão do Flamengo, 35; tel: 21-2205 7545
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner
$

If you’re wanting to try authentic food from the Amazon region, this is a good bet. It’s a very simple snack bar, serving fruit juices and ice creams made from Amazonian fruit, plus açaí served the natural way (unsweetened). For something to eat, try the soups: tacacá and caldo de tucupi, both of which are foods of Amazon tribes and probably quite different from anything you’ve ever tried.


Ipanema

17. Casa da Feijoada

Rua Prudente de Morais, 10; tel: 21-2247 2776
www.cozinhatipica.com.br
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$$

The slogan – and reality – at this restaurant is ‘Every day is a day for feijoada’. This long-standing, small and simple restaurant is right next to the Ipanema square that hosts the Feira Hippie (Hippie Fair) in Ipanema every Sunday. The national dish, feijoada, is a must, where you’ll get hearty black bean stew accompanied by side dishes like farofa (toasted manioc root meal), couve (kale) and rice. The menu also includes other classic Brazilian dishes, such as moqueca.

18. Gero

Rua Anibal de Mendonça, 157; tel: 21-2239 8158
www.fasano.com.br
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$$$$

Gero is one of the hotspots on Rio’s gastronomic map, popular with those who matter in artistic, financial and political circles. Part of the Fasano family that also owns and runs the hotel in Ipanema. Its sophisticated Italian menu offers an interesting mix of classical and innovative dishes. A treat for business or pleasure, but reservations are a must. There is also a branch in Barra da Tijuca at 190 Avenida Erico Verissimo.


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Jardim Botânico

19. Couveflor

Rua Pacheco Leão, 724; tel: 21-2512 6054
www.couveflor.com.br
Open daily for lunch
$

From salads to hot dishes, a wide range of lunch options are available at the self-serve buffet counter. This informal eatery is set within an old manor house in the charming area of Horto, around the corner from the Botanic Garden.

20. Filé de Ouro

Rua Jardim Botânico, 731; tel: 21-2259 2396
Open from Tue–Sun for lunch and dinner
$$

Running since the 1960s, this is one of Rio’s most traditional churras-carias, where the specialty is 300g steaks served with typical Brazilian accompaniments, like farofa (toasted manioc root meal). It’s small inside and expect a line outside at weekends.


Lagoa

21. Bar Lagoa

Avenida Epitácio Pessoa, 1674; tel: 21- 2523 1135
www.barlagoa.com.br
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$$

This charming 1934 botequim has an Art Deco interior and a veranda facing the lagoon. It’s great for lunch or dinner, but late in the evening is when things really get going – and noisy. The fare is German, and includes classics such as Kassler Rippchen (ribs) mit Sauerkraut, and bratwurst sausages with potato salad, backed by international favorites. Portions are large.

22. Ki

Rua Fonte da Saudade, 179; tel: 21-2535 3848
www.restauranteki.com.br
Open daily for dinner
$$$

Gourmet Japanese cuisine, with contemporary touches, plus a wide selection of sakes, are served in a romantic and softly-lit setting of a renovated manor house.

Palaphita Kitch in Rio. Photo: APA Publications

23. Palaphita Kitch

Avenida Epitácio Pessoa (Kiosk 20, Parque do Cantagalo); tel: 21-2227 0837
Open daily for dinner
$$

The lagoon-side kiosks along the shores of the Lagoa are great for alfresco food and drinks. This trendy version, open in the evenings for cocktails and casual bar bites, has a rustic Amazon-inspired setting.


Leblon

24. Bracarense

Rua José Linhares, 85; tel: 21-2294 3549
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner
$

A traditional botequim, the Bracarense is a casual gathering spot with tables on the pavement, where locals drop by throughout the day. From a coffee in the morning, to a steak for lunch and beers with codfish fritters in the evenings, it’s a reliable little place.


Take Insight Guides with you: Our latest Explore Rio de Janeiro guidebook is packed with ways to see the city


25. Giuseppe Grill

Avenida Bartolomeu Mitre, 370; tel: 21- 2249 3055
www.bestfork.com.br
Open daily for lunch and dinner
$$$$

Arguably Rio’s most stylish and sophisticated steakhouse, this place also serves fresh seafood and a range of premium wines. The original Giuseppe Grill, located in the Centro at Rua da Quitanda, 49, is open for lunch during weekdays.


Santa Teresa

26. Aprazível

Rua Aprazível, 62; tel: 21-2508 9174
www.aprazivel.com.br
Open from Tue–Sat for lunch and dinner; Sunday for lunch only
$$$
This gourmet experience has panoramic views of Downtown Rio from a renovated manor house with rustic-chic decor. Tables are dotted around the house and gardens. The focus is on contemporary Brazilian cuisine, where regional dishes are given a modern twist. There’s a good choice of artisan beers and a large selection of barrel-aged cachaças.

27. Goya Bei

Largo das Neves, 13; tel: 21-2232 5751
Open daily for dinner
$

Open only in the evenings, this traditional little bar overlooks a bucolic square, off the beaten track. It’s a simple sort of place where the locals hang out and beers come in liter bottles with little glasses. To eat, there are classic appetizers, like aipim com carne seca (fried manioc with salted beef).



Want to find out more about Rio? Insight Guides: Explore Rio de Janeiro covers the city's best routes, with practical maps and the best places to eat and drink along the way. Available as both an app or an eBook.


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