Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro – your guide to eating out
In a city as big as Rio de Janeiro with many restaurants it can be hard to pick the good one. That is why we put together a guide to eating out with some of the best restaurants in Rio. We made a list of the 22 best restaurants in Rio that we would recommend you to visit in 2020. And you will find links here to our blogs about the best places to go for Brazilian, international, vegetarian and vegan food. But let us start with some general information about what to expect when going out for dinner in the Marvelous City.
What to expect of restaurants in Rio?
Let us give you a little warning up front: in many restaurants the service might not be what you are used to. The waiters are not always the fastest and might seem a bit indifferent at times. There are some brilliant exceptions though and being nice helps a lot. Rio de Janeiro is a very personal place. Some patience, a smile and a little chat with your waiter will improve your experience. A grumpy attitude and complaining works against you. It is also good to know that it is common not to serve all plates from a table at the same time.
Sharing is caring
Brazilians like to share their food. This is why on many menus you will find plates for 2 people. Also, when ordering the same dish with a group of people it is common to serve the food on bigger plates and in bigger pots and give everybody an empty plate.
Paying the bill and tipping
Paying the bill can be different from what you are used to as well. Sometime the waiter already comes with the bill before you even properly finished your meal. Don’t worry! This does not mean that they want to kick you out of the restaurant. In fact for Cariocas it is quite common to pay the bill and stay seated and chatting for 15 to sometimes 30 minutes after. Regarding paying, Cariocas also like to share. Expect your waiter to ask if you want to split the bill and how much every person on the table is going to pay.
Normally you don’t have to tip, a so-called service charge of 10% is already added to your bill. Those 10% end up on the waiters salaries. Additional tipping is possible if you are more than satisfied with the service, but not necessary. If you have had bad service in any way, you are free not to pay the 10%, since it is not mandatory to pay this tip. Note that this is if the waiters have given you bad service. If you are unhappy with the food you should complain to the manager and try to obtain a discount. Some restaurants have a practice of not adding the 10% service charge. Then it’s up to you, normally the waiter will keenly make this clear.
A typical Brazilian dish would contain a piece of chicken or beef with rice, beans and farofa. Farofa is a bit salty powder of toasted casave. You can find this type of dish and variations in every restaurant en street corner bar. For lunch most of the barzinhos serve ready-made plates referred to as pratos excecutivos. Perfect if you want to try the everyday Brazilian dish and for those traveling on a budget. This is more about the local experience, then about high quality food. A famous Brazilian dish made with beans that is really good though is feijoada. At Bar do Mineiro in Santa Teresa and Casa de Feijoada in Ipanema you can get excellent feijoada and a true gem of Carioca cuisine hides in a favela. Award wining Bar do David serves an excellent variation to the feijoada: one made with seafood.
Are you in for another true Brazilian culinary experience? In that case, a visit to one of the steakhouses in Rio de Janeiro is a must. Often known as all-you-can-eat steakhouses, or rodízio in Portuguese. The country’s barbecue tradition – the meat is slow-roasted over charcoal – hails from the southern part of Brazil, but is to be found everywhere in the country. Nowadays, Brazilian meat is recognized worldwide for its quality. See our list of the most delicious steakhouses in Rio de Janeiro
Talking about meat, cariocas also love burgers. You might argue that burgers are not Brazilian food, but it seems that almost every other day a new burger place is opening its doors. Read here about the burger places you can’t miss.
With miles of coastline and a rich fishing culture, it’s not a surprise that Rio de Janeiro has plenty of good seafood restaurants. The city offers a wide variety of outlets with fresh fish on the menu. Here is a selection of our favorite places to eat seafood in Rio de Janeiro.
Markets and food from the North East of Brazil
There are a lot of people from the North East of Brazil living in Rio and they brought their own cuisine. At the Feira Nordestina São Cristóvão, the biggest market in Rio you will find numerous little restaurants and stables where you can try the food from this part of Brazil. There are also a lot of other markets in Rio where you can get excellent food. In Rio, you could argue that a market without food is no market.
For Brazilians, it is a must to eat a hot meal for lunch every day. In fact, it is the most important meal and they use at least an hour for it. However, if you’re in the mood for lighter food, let’s say a sandwich, you might need to make a bit of an effort to find the right addresses. Here are some of our favorite places for tasty sandwiches in Rio de Janeiro.
Another good option if you are not in the mood for a whole meal is açaí. This superfood comes from the Amazon and is a carioca favorite. You can find it everywhere in the city from way up in the favela till down on the beach. These are the 6 best places to eat açaí.
Eating Brazilian food also means diving into its Portuguese culinary heritage. This influence comes to the fore at several typical traditional eateries, spread out over town. Think of fried cod balls (bolinhos de bacalhau) and a gorgeous red wine as a starter. A quintessential part of the Brazilian experience. Here we have list of 5 restaurants with tasty portuguese food.
With the biggest community of Italian descendants outside Italy, finding a good place to eat Italian food is not very difficult in Brazil. We put together a list of the top 5 Italian restaurants in Rio de Janeiro for you. One of them is classic La Fiorentina. We like it so much, that we wrote a separate blog on this restaurant.
When you say Italian food, you say pizza. We have to warn you here though! The average Brazilian pizza is different from the Italian one. In general Brazilian pizzas have a lot of cheese on them, the crust is thicker, and they lack tomato sauce. Because of the last fact, Brazilians put ketchup on their pizza (no joke!). Another Brazilian invention is the sweet pizza. Think pizza’s with brown and white chocolate, fruits on them and even pizza with M&M’s. You can find these kind of pizza’s all over town. A good traditional Italian-style pizza is harder to find. These are good places for the Italian-style pizza.
Indian food in Rio is almost as rare as sunset and sunrise at the same time. There are only two Indian restaurants in town, but they are good. Check out our blog about these places.
The Sirian-Lebanese community are another group of immigrants with a legacy in the Brazilian kitchen. You maybe already saw men dressed up in traditional Arabic dresses selling food on the beach. These Arab restaurants are really worth visiting.
Asian food is really hard to find in Rio de Janeiro. However, there is one type of food that you will find everywhere and that is sushi. Cariocas love it and because of the huge Japanese community in Brasil you can find excellent sushi as well. These are the 6 best sushi places in town.
Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Rio
Although Brazil is a meat loving country, you can find some excellent vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Rio. Check out the best Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants in Rio.
Breakfast, coffee and cake
Although most people probably have breakfast in their hotel or hostel there are some great options to eat out for breakfast as well. Check out these awesome places for breakfast. Besides these places you could also go to a coffee shop or a bakery. These are our favorite coffee shops and the best pâtisseries and bakeries in town.