6 of the Best Foodie Hotspots in Rio
Famous for Carnival, caipirinhas and of course, the Copacabana, Rio is a dynamic, diverse city where tourists and locals mingle against a backdrop of beautiful beaches, lush jungle and magnificent mountain vistas. Revellers flock to its sun-baked shores for a hit of its famous year-round sunshine, but this tropical metropolis serves up so much more than just a healthy dose of Vitamin D. As I discovered on a recent trip, it’s also a gastronomic game-changer, with a steady stream of fantastic restaurants surprising and delighting guests across Brazil’s former capital. Here are some of incredible eateries that are worth adding to your must-visit list.
Fresh, beautifully cooked seafood is the order of the day at this crabshack-meets-post-beach pit stop. Located just a stone’s throw from the bustling Copacabana shores, this homespun eatery may not look like much from the outside, but step through the saloon-style doors and you’ll be greeted with the scent of delicious home-cooking that will have your mouth watering before you’ve even reached your table. Friendly waiters are on hand to help explain the large menu, which ranges from traditional soups to buttery lobster. The highlight for me was a fragrant prawn moqueca, a traditional Brazilian stew of fish, garlic, tomato and coriander - all washed down with an ice-cold beer. Delicious!
Beachside dining doesn’t get much sleeker than at Maria, a bright and breezy waterfront eatery smack dab in the heart of Ipanema. This casual joint is the perfect spot to enjoy a lazy lunch, or a refreshing coconut water (served in style straight from the source, of course). The menu is small but offers a range of simple, hearty fare - I settled on salt cod balls and delicious crab samosa-style pastries with a side of crispy French fries. Come dusk, order a cachaça-laced cocktail and nab a spot overlooking the beach to watch the action unfold in one of the very best sunset spots around Ipanema.
For white-table dining in sleek surrounds, you’d be hard placed to find better than at Satyricon, a stylish market seafood restaurant nestled in a quiet Ipanema alley. The service is top notch, the wine list extensive, and the aesthetic to-die-for (ask for a seat on their outdoor patio, draped with twinkling lights and dotted with lush greenery). The food is the main attraction, focusing on fresh, local ingredients - think gourmet truffle linguini with a delicate sprinkling of lobster, flaky white fish with melt-in-your-mouth potatoes and platters of fresh oysters, all served with unwavering precision to ensure the utmost freshness.
The cherry on top of Rio’s culinary confection is Aprazivel, a truly unique restaurant in what has to be one of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever had the pleasure to dine in. A hilltop hideaway in the artsy Santa Teresa district, you’ll find this upscale eatery flanked by a sprawling jungle and boasting panoramic views of the city below. With Rio illuminated against the night sky, you’ll want to take a dozen pictures before you’ve even settled down at your table. Once seated, you’ll be blown away by the menu, too. Specialising in regional Northern Brazilian cuisine, with dishes made from the finest local produce, it’s definitely a little different from your typical grill. I had the chef’s special - a flavourful chicken and sausage rice dish paired with a glass of Brazilian Chardonnay. The dessert, rum-soaked bananas with a scoop of homemade ice-cream was the perfect way to round-off the evening.
Tucked away in a busy side street in the city’s hectic business district, this elegant cafe has been a Rio institution since the late 19th century and for good reason. Founded as the place to experience Brazil’s answer to high tea, the opulent mirrored dining area is a wonderfully decadent place to sate your sweet tooth, with smartly-dressed staff serving up a mountain of sugary treats that are as pretty as they are palate-pleasing. From slabs of coconut cake to elegant pastry creations and Portuguese custard tarts, you’ll want to order half the menu. I opted for a strawberry turnover and a vanilla cream slice - both of which I’m still thinking about weeks later.
It’s safe to say that Rio takes its meat seriously, and true carnivores will delight in this dive-style burger bar in Copacabana. With a cult following that’s sky-rocketed in recent years, diners can expect a menu of perfectly-cooked patties stacked with toppings, and crispy fries topped with a generous helping of their famous guava ketchup. My personal highlight? The cupuacu butter shake littered with crunch peanuts. Come hungry and don’t make too many plans for the afternoon - you’ll want to do nothing more than laze around on the beach afterwards!