Where to Eat in Rio & São Paulo – what I loved and what I didn’t
I love fresh street food, so I’ve tried the boiled corn served with salt and butter at the beach in Rio (okay, not great) and the churros. I was put off the gyros by a few locals (“that’s the worst, you’ll get sick,” I was warned) but would give it a go if I had another chance. If you get to a stand of locals buying tapioca pancakes (sweet and savoury), give it a try. It’s on the salty side so be warned – if you order Nutella, expect a bit of savoury saltiness from the flour.
Note: I’ve paid to dine at all these establishments/ for the tours. The meal at Emiliano was offered as a comp – I accepted and would be happy to pay full price – it was really good.
1. Sushi Leblon – the detractors will say nay, and the crowd is pretty swish. Excellent quality fusion sushi though. http://www.sushileblon.com/
2. Porcao Rio – great views of Sugar Loaf. Sterile atmosphere and the waiters are clearly tired of the “bringing the platter to your table” move, but if you’re going for 1st time all you can eat BBQ in the city, start here.http://www.porcao.com.br/
3. Bar do Mineiro – you’ll probably have to queue for a elbow-jammed seat, but do. The mini pasteis served with drinks, the slow cooked beef and whole fish are excellent lunch dishes. Come back and try them all. Informal, vibey, popular with locals and tourists http://bardomineiro.net/
4. Roberta Sudbrack – one of the classiest and most lauded of Brazilian chefs. Understated dining, but clearly in the swanky category. Chef Roberta comes out to greet her guests. Most locals didn’t seem to know this spot though, but the World’s 50 Best Restos do. Splurge-ish dining http://robertasudbrack.com.br/
5. The North East Fair – the NE region has a strong African influence and a very specific and rich culinary history. You can find a variety of restaurants here that locals frequent for an authentic taste of “home”. Read more at Eat Rio, who incidentally also hosts great tours of the city: http://eatrio.net/ttd_feira-nordestina-de-sao-cristovao. The fair is also the place to shop for ingredients like cheeses, tapioca and Brazilian jerky – carne seca.
6. Espirito Santo, Santa Teresa – a small, atmospheric restaurant and bar serving local ingredients (including the numbing herbs I ate at DOM and paid a fortune for…scroll down) and wholesome fare. No English menus so take google translate with you. Very well priced. Live music over the weekends. http://www.espiritosanta.com.br/
1. Mocotó: Jose Oliveira de Almeida has a special story about the bar he started more than 35 years ago serving traditional, peasant dishes from the Northeast, such as mocotó, a trotter and bean stew. Today his son has taken over the bistro and locals will pop in on their lunch breaks and tourists will travel an hour out of SP central to get there. You can order the soups in mini sizes and sample a host of dishes. The carne de sol asado served with roast garlic and mini peppers (biquinha) set the bar for my every meal in Brazil after that. Exquisite, and my top recommendation. http://www.mocoto.com.br/
2. Dalva e Dito – Rock star chef Alex Atala’s casual ‘grandma-style’ bistro – it’s beautifully set up and the menu is far more relaxed than DOM. If you’re staying in Jardim it’s easy to walk to, and close to DOM too. http://www.dalvaedito.com.br/
3. Restaurant Emiliano – paying homage to the Italian roots of many, and the city’s preferred aesthetic, this small, refined restaurant serves excellent Italian-Brazilian food, top-notch service and even sends you off with a lovely wrapped cake to take home for the next day. http://site2013.emiliano.com.br/
4. DOM – I came, I saw, I ate an Amazonian ant and herbs that made my mouth numb, and I balked at the price tag. I love the splurge of eating at a Michelin or supremely fine dining restaurant – in fact, I save and travel for it. I’m not sure I will return here, unless the unfathomable happens and I am invited to try a range of never-before-sampled ingredients. Top service and location though and the chef comes around to tables too. http://www.domrestaurante.com.br/
5. Fasano – this is as about old-school Italian chic as you get. Set in a cavernous portal below the bar is a restaurant that servers dressed starched whites and belonging to a hierarchy of some sort, still adhere to. Rules matter here so do dress appropriately – a proper blazer for men and good shoes. For women – heck, I’m not going to tell any woman how to dress, except perhaps that the jeans would serve you better down town. The food is considered the benchmark in Italian food found in Brazil. I found it all a little too stuffy and way overpriced. Not World’s 50 Best material in my books. Decide for yourself. http://www.fasano.com.br/hotelaria/hotel/restaurantes_e_bares/1
6. Santo Grao – one of the best coffee shops in the city and the one in Rua Oscar Freire, Jardim will ensure you get a glimpse of the creme de la creme of society. This is Camps Bay meets Constantia yummy mummy with the surgeon we all want. In our out-there dreams, I mean. But back to the coffee- good beans, great roasting, open from early until late for meals too. http://santograo.com.br/
*Note: exploring Rua Oscar Freire is a must, not just for the window shopping but for the hipstery coffee and pastry places too.
7.Bakery Itiriki – Japanese fused with Brazilian and French – no fuss bakery in Liberdade, Japanesetown – chose what you desire downstairs, pay and grab a grimy seat upstairs and order drinks. A must. http://bakeryitiriki.com