Where to eat in Rio (Gourmet Chick in Brazil)

Rio is a great city to eat in. The mix of cultures and influences from Portugese to Japanese to African mean that the city’s restaurants and tiny botequims offer a myriad of dining options. In fact, you don’t even need to leave your beach chair to explore the city’s cuisine…

Ipanema beach at sunset
Beach side degustation
Beach going is an art form in Rio and once positioned on a beach chair in a way that best shows off their dental floss style bikinis Brazillians set about eating and drinking with gusto. There is no need for them to leave your chair as a passing parade of vendors sells every snack and drink imaginable. I particularly enjoyed the empanadas, pastry triangles filled with spinach and cheese (R$4/£1.50), the halloumi like cheese grilled to order on a tiny portable charcoal grill and sprinkled with herbs (R$2) and the coconut juice drunk from the coconut with a hole drilled in the top to fit a straw.
Ipanema beach during the day – eating cheese on a stick -so good!
Terézé has the perfect location, look and menu but failed to deliver on the food. The restaurant has stunning views over Rio from its location in the luxurious hotel Santa Teresa. The design is also amazing with polished concrete walls, low hung lamp shades over tables and bottle top installations. Grouper carpaccio (R$32) was simple and light but roasted cod fish loin in a charcoal infused olive oil (R$65) read much better on paper than it tasted with claggy passionfruit sauce overwhelming the fish and charcoal. Of the dessert degustation R$55 the chocolate fondant pudding and lemon meringue were clearly the stand outs while the chocolate macaraon lollipops were dry and the ice-cream watery and flavourless. I was particularly unimpressed by being charged R$18 for the bread basket that was placed on our table. Go for the views and setting but prepare to be underwhelmed by the food. If you want a window table be sure to ask for this when booking as they told us all the window tables were reserved when we arrived.
Details: Rua Almirante Alexandrino 660, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Ph 20241-260)
Damage: Budget breaking. Our meal cost R$410 including one bottle of wine.
Dessert degustation at Tereze – more style than substance
MTV boyfriend and I tried out a few breakfast spots in Rio but our favourite by far was Market in Ipanema. The cafe is super modern and slick with designer chairs in bright primary colours and a lovely courtyard area to eat in. The eggs florentine (R$15) had perfectly poached eggs and hollondaise sauce with just the right amount of tang. There is also a great bookshop just down the street, Livraria da Travessa, which also has an English language section.
Details: Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 499 Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Ph +55 (21) 3283 1438)
Damage: Reasonable
Eggs Florentine at Market
I didn’t think I would ever lavish praise on an all you can eat restaurant which is part of a chain but then I had never been to the amazing Porcao. Porcao is the most successful of Rio’s churrascarias where passadores (meat waiters) dart between tables wielding huge sticks of char grilled meat which they carve on request. The meat was nothing short of sensational. There were tender slices of filet mignon with a smoky char and melt in the mouth ribs. The waiters are guided by a hilarious card system where each diner is given a card to display with green representing nao for no more food and red meaning sim for yes – bring it on! The meat is so good that several times when I felt I could not eat another thing, almost in a dream I found myself flipping my card to green as a waiter approached bearing more carnivorous marvels.
Details: Rua Barao da Torre, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro 22411000, Brazil (Ph +55(21) 3202 9158)
Damage: Pricey. The cost of all you can eat meats plus sides and salads is R$89 per person. Including wine and service our meal cost R$220.
The essential ordering cards for Porcao
Sexy and sophisticated, buzzing Zuka is touted as one of Rio’s best restaurants. The room is darkly lit and tables sit close together however the best seats in the house are at the bar watching the chefs cook over a huge coal fired grill. With such a feature the obvious dish to order is steak and the Picanha (R$54), a cut of meat almost like a hangar steak which is particular to Brazil, was cooked to perfection. The steak had a smoky char and was served sliced to reveal the rosy pink meat. It was served with fries and a less spicy take on chimchurri sauce. Cod with coarse sea salt (R$45) was also cooked expertly on the grill and served with a coconut curry sauce which had a mild kick to it but was closer to a satay sauce than a curry.
Details: Lagoa Dias Ferreira, 233b, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Ph +55 (21) 3205 7154)
Damage: Pricey.
Picanha at Zuka
Capricciosa was recommended to us by a Brazillian friend (thanks Daniel) as having the best pizza in Rio and from what we tried I’m inclined to agree. The restaurant features a large wood fired oven and the pizzas are expensive at R$40 for a small pizza but the crisp, smoke charred base is worth paying for. Try the parmagiana which we loved.
Details: Rua Vinicius de Moraes, Ipanema, Brazil (Ph +55 (21) 2523 3394)
Damage: Reasonable
There are a huge number of sushi restaurants in Rio thanks to the large amounts of Japanese immigrants in Brazil and the fantastic local seafood. The queues for Sushi Leblon were too long for our liking so we headed to the nearby Manikeneko. The restaurant is very slick and modern with lots of red perspex and fish tanks built into the wall in the basement dining area. It feels a little bit soulless but our sashimi platter was super fresh and the fish was top quality. Details: Rua Dias Ferreira, 410, Rio, Brazil (Ph +55 (21) 2540 7461)
Damage: Reasonable
Sashimi at Manekineko
The temperatures in Rio can be pretty hot so I think a few ice-cream recommendations are definitely in order. Mil Frutas has the most expensive ice-cream in Rio at $R9 for one scoop but the creamy, rich texture was far superior to the icy, remelted offering from the recommended Sorvete Italia at $R6 a scoop.
Mil Frutas ice-cream
Gourmet Travel Tips
  • We flew to Rio from London with British Airways, prices start from around £650 return.
  • In Rio you can catch the electric train to the top of Christ the Redeemer statue (sit on the right hand side) or a cable car to the top of the Sugarloaf for more spectacular views.
  • We also hired bikes for a day from the lake area and cycled along Copacabana and Ipanema beach.
  • During our time in Rio we stayed at La Suite hotel, the Copacabana Palace and also rented an apartment in Ipanema for a few nights.
  • Many thanks to Daniel, London Foodie and @GisaneC who were all a wealth of knowlege about where and what to eat in Rio.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my posts on other destinations in Brazil – Lencois, Boipeba and Salvador.


  1. I had heard that Brazil has a large sushi market. That sashimi looks delicious!! And btw, I LOVE picanha… it’s so tender!

  2. Nothing says vaca like ice cream, yes?

    The eggs florentine in your photo looks more like an eggs royale, yes?

    You’ve really covered your trip to Brazil brilliantly, and I’m left with the impression that you were there for a month!

  3. I’ve really enjoyed your Brazil posts, as they helped get me in the mood for my trip to Sao Paulo(I’m there on work at the mo).

    On churrascaria, my tip is to pace your meal with the red and green cards. I didn’t. I went a little bit crazy early on, and with hindsight I would’ve enjoyed it more if I paced it better. That said, the temptation is so great when the waiters come by…

  4. I love the Brazil posts GC as it’s a country you don’t get to see very much at all! 😀 hehe now if beaches here had that same vendor policy I might go more often!

  5. Great eating options in Rio, I hadn’t heard of Porcao before but will look out for it next time I am in Rio. I think the term “all you can eat” is a little derogatory and doesn’t really convey the idea of a Brazilian rodizio. I love those places.

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  6. Cheese on a stick! At the beach! The picanha looks amazing – would love to travel to Brazil one day.

  7. Katherina – Yes with you on the Picanha

    American on London – Ah yes I think you have me on that one.

    Mr Noodles – It is hard to be restrained isn’t it!

    Lorraine – It’s a great country and I am sure it will grow in popularity over the next few years with the World Cup and Olympics.

    Luiz – Perhaps unfair of me but it was the best comparison I could come up with!

    Helen – I am sure you would love it. Especially the cheese on the stick – should be mandatory at beaches world wide.

  8. Been meaning to click back and read your Brazil posts… I can’t think of anything more wonderful than cheese on a stick!!! Husband is drooling over that steak, he went to Brazil just before we met and enthuses about meaty restaurants with “stop” and “go” signs on the tables!!

  9. sehr schöne Bilder … Kompliment !!!

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