Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro

You can eat your way around the world in Rio, with hundreds of restaurants offering the best gastronomic cuisine that befits this multi-cultural city. Award-winning innovative chefs have created dazzling fusion dishes from all over Brazil, but sometimes it’s hard to beat a simple pão de queijo (cheesy cassava bun), washed down with a bem gelada (a well-chilled beer).

Copacabana and Ipanema have the greatest number of places to eat, but it's worth exploring beyond the Zona Sul to Santa Teresa, Centro and Lapa, where there are many excellent restaurants, often providing better value for money and with fewer crowds in high season.

The Rio restaurants below have been grouped into three pricing categories:

Expensive (over R$200)
Moderate (R$ 50 to R$200)
Cheap (up to R$50)

These Rio restaurant prices are based on the average price of a three-course meal and half a bottle of house wine or equivalent, including tax. Sales tax of 5% and a service charge of 10-15% are added to most restaurant bills in Rio. Most credit cards are now widely accepted in the city's restaurants, although some of the cheaper or older establishments only accept cash. If you have American Express, or a lesser-known credit card, it’s advisable to phone the restaurant in advance to check whether or not they’ll accept it.

Gero Ipanema

Price: Expensive
Cuisine: Italian

Owned by Rogerio Fasano, charismatic Italian restaurateur and hotelier, Gero Ipanema is frequently voted the best Italian restaurant in Rio. The menu, drawn up by skilful chef Salvatore Loi, is a mouth-watering selection of classic Italian dishes and locally inspired concoctions, such as black squid risotto with saffron flowers. The warm and elegant décor in the roofed patio adds to the dining experience. The booming western suburb of Barra now also has its own branch of the restaurant, predictably named Gero Barra.

Address: Rua Aníbal de Mendonça 157, Ipanema, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Telephone: (21) 2239 8158.

Le Pré Catelan

Price: Expensive
Cuisine: Brazilian-French fusion

The flagship restaurant of the Sofitel hotel on Copacabana beach, Le Pré Catelan serves up some of the most adventurous dishes in Rio. French gourmet cuisine goes up the Amazon in a gastronomic exploration of the wonders of Brazilian tropical specialities. Frances four-Michelin-star chef, Roland Villard, loves to pamper his clients and he often stops at tables to chat and help you choose your food. For the complete jungle immersion experience, try the Amazônia menu, which boasts nine courses including tapioca marinated in caipirinha and cashew granite sorbet.

Address: Brazil
Telephone: (21) 2525 1232.

Roberta Sudbrack

Price: Expensive
Cuisine: Contemporary Brazilian

The first chef in Rio to be awarded three Michelin stars for her modern and airy restaurant in Jardim Botanico, Roberta Sudbrack has cooked for world leaders, including Fidel Castro, Bill Clinton and former Brazilian president Fernando Cardoso. The menu changes daily, but Sudbrack's taste-bud tantalisers have included such imaginative wonders as polenta caviar with egg yolk and ravioli of yam cooked in chicken broth. The chef’s signature style focuses on fresh, unadulterated ingredients served with panache. Not cheap, but superb for that special treat.

Address: Avenida Lineu de Paula Machado, 916, Jardim Botânico,, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Telephone: (21) 3874 0139.

Confeitaria Colombo

Price: Moderate
Cuisine: Brazilian, Portuguese

This true Carioca establishment is worth a visit just to see its beautiful art deco interior of glowing stained-glass windows, ornate mirrors and chandeliers, and polished tiled floors. Founded in 1894, Confeitaria Colombo is a firm favourite on the tourist circuit, but has maintained its culinary standards, serving excellent value lunches and delicious Portuguese-style cakes and pastries. Tucked down a quiet downtown side street, it makes an ideal stop-off on a city tour. There’s also another outlet, the Café do Forte, at the end of Copacabana beach with outside tables overlooking the bay.

Address: Brazil
Telephone: (21) 2505 1500.

Casa da Feijoada

Price: Moderate
Cuisine: Brazilian

Feijoada (black bean stew) is generally accepted as Brazil’s national dish, so you’d be remiss not to sample this rich stew at least once during your stay in Rio. Luckily, Casa da Feijoada, on a quiet corner of Ipanema, is one of the best places to try feijoada, complete with its side dishes of black beans, shredded greens, rice, crackling and slices of orange. They also offer a novel appetiser: cold bean soup, which is much tastier than it might sound. The whole lot is finished off with a knock-out batida – a fruit cocktail with aguardente rum. Come here for Saturday lunch, as is the custom, and give yourself the rest of the afternoon off.

Address: Rua Prudente de Morais, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Telephone: (21) 2247 2776.

Aprazível

Price: Moderate
Cuisine: Brazilian

This is one of the best restaurants in Santa Teresa, serving excellent Brazilian food in a magical tropical garden overlooking the city centre. Led by chef Ana Castilho from Minas Gerais, dishes are rich in exotic flavours, though there's also a strong European influence. The Aprazivel Salad is a tangy blend of grilled aubergine and sweet potato with parmesan shavings and sun-dried tomatoes, while the moquequinha is a succulently light fish cooked in coconut cream sauce, based on the cuisine of Bahia, northeastern Brazil. Desserts such as banana Santa Teresa, served with warm chocolate sauce and sliced almonds are as sweet and delightful as the setting.

Address: Rua Aprazîvel 62, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Telephone: (21) 2508 9174.

Cervantes

Price: Cheap
Cuisine: International

Stand with the locals at the bar and enjoy a refreshing glass of chopp (draft beer) at this old-fashioned venue with frosted windows and a lively atmosphere. Smartly dressed waiters serve drinks, hot food and snacks to a mixed crowd, who drop in until closing at 0600. Widely rated as serving the best sandwiches in Rio, try its famous gammon and pineapple sandwich in crusty homemade bread. A Rio institution since it opened in 1955, it also has other branches across the city.

Address: Avenida Prado Júnior 335, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Telephone: (21) 2275 6147.

Aipo & Aipim

Price: Cheap
Cuisine: International

Often the best budget option for dining, for light eaters at least, is at one of the many por kilo (food by weight) restaurants found throughout Rio. One of the most popular is the Aipo & Aipim chain with canteen-style tables that can also be found in Copacabana and Ipanema. Like other por kilo restaurants, diners load a plate with salads and hot dishes that’s weighed and then paid for after eating. The system is simple and efficient, the food fresh and tasty. Desserts are charged for in the normal way.

Address: Rua do Ouvidor 108, Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Telephone: (21) 2222 3423.

Oke Ka Baiana Tem

Price: Cheap
Cuisine: Brazilian

The intriguing name of this straw roofed restaurant roughly translates as ‘What a Baiana Has’, which is partly explained by the tasty seafood dishes from Bahia they serve up here. Overlooking the lagoon, the arty décor of the eatery is all rustic wooden beams and Afro-Brazilian spiritual icons with ambient music. Service, from waitresses in traditional white Bahiana costumes, can be a tad slow but customers return time and again for its acarajé (black-eyed pea fritters) and casquinha de siri (stuffed crab shells) specialities.

Address: Brazil
Telephone: (21) 8297 9766.
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