Friday, June 6, 2014

Rio2014: Restaurants of Rio

The FIFA World Cup starts next week and my mom and step-dad are coming! I'm super excited. Despite all the negativity clouding the games, I think it's going to be amazing and the energy electric. I've been making little lists of things to do, sites to see and of course places to eat. Eight months in and I finally feel I got a handle on where to eat in Brazil, which is not always easy for a health nut like me. So here's a list of our go-to spots in Rio.

Nothing beats the views from Forte Copacabana and it really kicks off the "I'm in Rio!" excitement. There are two cafes and both are great, but I love the cafe de amanha breakfast at Colombo. The breadbasket and cinnamon sweet cappuccino are heaven.

the in-laws

My favorite restaurant in Rio is El Chalaco, a Peruvian launchonete in Leblon. Hub and I discovered it during Carnaval and the ceviche brought me back to my holiday in Lima. Their pisco sours are insane and I dream about the quinoa burger, octopus sliders and their homemade smoked eggplant mayonnaise.

quinoa burger
octopus sliders

Dining out in Rio can be expensive, but there are few places really worth splurging. I loved restaurante Aprazível in Santa Teresa; eating creative Brazilian food in grand Amazonian huts overlooking the city was priceless.

grilled octopus

tapioca ice cream with acai sauce

Another great Brazilian spot is Bangalô in Barra da Tijuca; I was so inspired by their arroz com castanha de caju. And you can't come to Brazil without hitting up a churrascaria and I love going to the Carretão in General Osorio. Now I know you're wondering what I'm doing at an all-you-can-eat meat fest, but they give a 50% discount for vegetarians and the meat-free buffet is awesome.

Eating clean while dining out is a challenge in any city, but it's particularly difficult in Rio. You'll be surprised to learn that it's hard to find a decent salad in Rio, which is just bananas. So an awesome spot for hearty salads is French bakery La Bicyclette in Jardim Botanico. It's quaint and they make beautiful artesian breads and the pastries look divine. Drool.

Another great way to go is East like My Thai in Botafogo. It's not exactly authentic, but the food is fresh, yummy and they cater to vegans. It's chill, brightly painted and I really like the Thai curry puffs and shitake mushroom curries. Rua Dias Ferreira in Leblon is like the restaurant row of international cuisine and the food is fantastic. I'm a sucker for pan-Asian restaurant Mekong and their salmon in sweet tamarind sauce and pakora. And across Zona Sul in Leme is Arab. We met the owner randomly while renting one of her flats on Airbnb and she invited us for a free meal. Great hummus, fresh pão árabe and homemade labneh...happy girl.

My Thai

marinated espetinho de bife

curry puffs

And there you have it, my restaurant hit list. I imagine your wondering where the Brazilian food is and that's coming up next. Stay tuned for my ideal buteco crawl.

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