To have lunch in Rio in a restaurant is normally quite affordable. If you are on a budget and want to skip a meal eating out it should definitely be dinner. I will first explain a little bit how it works and further down I will recommend some restaurants I find worthwhile.

Translate refeição and it means meal. It’s basically a Brazilian meal made up of salad, rice, black beans, french fries or fried manioc and any of these: chicken, meat or fish. This can vary a bit. This is the cheapest form of lunch in Rio, some times available for under 10R$. You will find it in cornerbars and simpler restaurants all over town. Note that sometimes you have something called pf or prato feito, this means “readymade dish” and includes normally the same as a refeição, if they also serve the latter that would be for two people.

Choose Yourself – A Quilo

This is definitely my favourite type of restaurant for lunch in Rio. In the a quilo restaurants you pay by weight of the food. The great advantage is that you can pick out what is to your fancy, for vegetarians this is also perfect. There are lots of them around and you don’t have to go far to find one for lunch. They range from very simple to quite exclusive. The price is normally on a sign outside the restaurant and refers to the price of 1kg (1000g) or in some cases 100g. In some places you pay more if you have the BBQ, sushi or the sashimi, make sure before you start filling your plate. A word of advice is to put less on the plate than you think, there is a tendency to take too much, if you still are hungry you can always get more.

Here follows a few recommendations for lunch in Rio. These restaurants are picked out because I think they are worthwhile. Most of them are part of franchises (something I normally don’t prefer) which seem to guarantee a certain quality. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

Frontera High level pay-by-weight restaurant. varied and huge salad buffee, good sushi, good BBQ, great desserts.
– R. Visconde de Pirajá 128, Ipanema map
– R. Maria Angélica 183, Jardim Botânico map
Site: Frontera

Da Silva Located on the basement floor in Rio Design Center. Good quality.
– Av. Ataulfo de Paiva 270, Leblon map

Papa Fina Nice a quilo in the “hostel district”. Not open at night.
– R. Vinicius de Moraes 153 , Ipanema map

Fellini Top of the range, always rated highly by food critics.
– R. General Urquiza 104, Leblon map
Site: Fellini

Centro – Full of Options

The best lunch in Rio you can probably get here. The reason of course is that you have so many people working here and most importantly they have money. It is impossible for me to single out a few options so I decided to provide a link that will take you to list of almost all restaurants in Rio. It is in Portuguese so you might need some help to decipher the information, just click Veja Rio’s Restaurant Search and you’ll get to a search page. On the right just click Centro for Bairro and then “Buscar”. Voilá!