A Guide to the Different Pastels in Rio De Janeiro

The pastel
The pastel | © Alexandre Macieira | Riotur/Flickr
Sarah Brown

Brazilian cuisine tends to be somewhat overshadowed by the nation’s football and samba, but it deserves praise too. Of particular interest is the humble pastel, a deep-fried pastry snack that has become a major part of the country’s gastronomic culture and made its presence known in bars and at farmers’ markets. Culture Trip takes a closer look at this crispy fast-food treat.
Pastels are crispy, deep-fried pastries that contain various fillings. Admittedly, they’re not exactly healthy, but they are satisfying and delicious. Two main types are bar pastels and pastels sold at the weekly farmers’ markets, and they come with a variety of fillings depending on where you buy them from.

Pastels might not be healthy, but they are tasty

Farmers’ Market Pastels

These are the original pastels, which are also known as pastel de vento (windy pastel). Their name comes from the fact that these large, deep-fried, rectangular pastries hold an equal mixture of fillings and air. They’re sold at makeshift stalls, where workers gather early in the morning to start serving the first customers, who grab a quick pastel on their way to work or as a Sunday breakfast treat.

The fillings are always a traditional combination of cheese, minced meat, prawns, frango with catupiry (cream cheese), pizza (cheese, tomato and basil), dried meat and hearts of palm. Eat with a splash of chilli sauce and wash down with a swig of extra-cold sugar cane juice to do it Brazilian-style.

Pastels are deep fried

In Rio de Janeiro, there are several farmers’ markets that serve these pastels alongside locally produced cheese, meats, fruits, vegetables and seafood. In Ipanema, try the popular Ipanema Farmers’ Market at Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz on Fridays, or the market at Praça General Osorio on Tuesdays (the same spot where the Ipanema Hippie Fair takes place on Sundays). In Copacabana, there is a small but complete market at Rua Décio Vilares on Sundays, which is great for fruits, vegetables and hot, fresh pastels. At Rua General Urquiza in Leblon, there’s also a farmers’ market every Sunday.

A pastel from the fair

Bar Pastels

Bar pastels are small, half moon shaped pastels and are often served as a light snack to eat while drinking chopps (small glasses of beers) and socializing in a boteco (traditional Brazilian bar). Unlike the pastels at farmers’ markets, which stick to a traditional formula, these bar pastels have wholeheartedly embraced the creativity and innovation that many of Rio’s modern bars are bringing to the local gastronomical scene. The result has been pastels with a variety of different fillings. Their small size means that the fillings are more packed in than they are in farmers’ market pastels.

A typical half-moon pastel

Bar do Adão is famous for its award-winning pastels, which come with more than 60 different fillings. Some of the most popular ones include the Italiano (sun-dried tomatoes with rocket), the Frances (leeks, prawns and catupiry), and the Nobre (prawns, blue cheese and nuts). It also serves sweet options such as brie with apricot jelly, and chocolate and strawberry. Bar do Mineiro in Santa Teresa serves a signature bean pastel for a satisfying carb-overload. For traditional options, head to Bar da Gema in Tijuca for its pastel packed with dried meat – the most-ordered pastel on the menu.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Edit article