Rio de Janeiro's Top 10 Restaurants: From Gourmet To Local

Chloe Hay

One of the most visited cities in Brazil, the vibrant metropolis of Rio de Janeiro is loved by the world for its extravagant carnival, huge statue of Christ the Redeemer, hang-gliding opportunities and picturesque views atop Sugar Loaf Mountain. Traditionally known more for drinking and partying than for fine cuisine, we update our list of incredible restaurants that demonstrate the culinary prowess of Rio.

1. Cine Botequim

Bar, Brazilian

When in search of a venue where city tavern meets world cinema, Rio explorers are rewarded with Cine Botequim. A quaint and cosy bare stone-walled establishment, this little bar and eatery is decked out in film memorabilia and hosts a programme of daily film screenings. From popular family classics such as Toy Story 2, Ratatouille and How to Train Your Dragon, to independent feature-length and short films made by local filmmakers and film students – there’s always something worth seeing. The menu is bursting with temptingly indulgent dishes such as garlic chicken with fried polenta, quails eggs and BBQ sauce, as well as rump steak with rosemary and melted mozzarella. Beer aficionados will appreciate the beer pairing option listed below each menu item. Courtesy Palaphita KitchPalaphita Kitch
Situated on the edge of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, Palaphita Kitch is a little haven of countryside beauty amidst the city of Rio de Janeiro. A great place to go with friends, all of the dishes on offer are ideal for sharing whilst enjoying a refreshing drink in the early evening. Stuffed camembert, roast beef with gruyere cheese and wild boar with artisanal toast are just a few of the most recommended dishes carefully prepared. The real star of the menu is the caipirinha – the caipirinhas at Palaphita Kitch are hand-mixed works of art. Choose between one of the many fruity flavours including mango, passion fruit, tangerine and mixed fruits but just be sure not to drink too many – the alcohol and sugar contents are incredibly high. Photo Courtesy of Rio Scenarium

2. Rio Scenarium

Restaurant, Nightclub, Pub Grub

One of the most lively party spots in the whole of Rio, get here early and you can enjoy some delicious food before the party starts. Rio Scenarium was named ‘One of the Ten Best Bars in the World’ by The Guardian and prides itself on its incredibly high international reputation. Serving grilled flounder, roast beef sandwiches, chicken kebabs, jerked beef and codfish balls until the lights go down; over 2000 people fill the bar’s three floors and lounge area every weekend. Hosting an array of live samba, MPB, choro, and torro music; guests can come for dinner and stay all night.

3. Baixo Gago

Bar, Pub Grub

A great place for a spot of people watching, Baixo Gago is a typical Brazilian boteco where as much emphasis is placed on getting the beer cold enough as it is on getting the food hot enough. Stop by for a chopp (draught beer) and a bar snack or try the most authentic Brazilian dish imaginable – the feijoada. One portion of this rich sausage and bean stew is enough to feed five or six people and as it is an example of seriously indulgent comfort food, it’s as much a must-try for visitors.

4. Confeitaria Colombo

Pastry Shop, Cafe, Restaurant, Dessert Shop, Bar, Brazilian, Pastries, Dessert, Fast Food, Street Food, Vegetarian

Made up of four varied eateries, the Confeitaria Colombo has a solution for every dining need. Restaurante Cabral offers delightful lunch options for those in a hurry. The soup buffet is perfect for smaller appetites and the choice of daily lunch specials are available both to dine in and to take away. Bar Jardim is more suited for those with a time on their hands to relax in the idyllic al fresco setting. Guests can sit at century-old patio tables, be served drinks and snacks by the attentive waiters and listen to the beautiful background music whilst enjoying the view. Cafe do Forte has the most pleasing view of all as it looks out over Copacabana Bay. Open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, stop here to sample a deliciously sweet waffle or enjoy a light salad or sandwich. Finally, for something slightly fancier, the Restaurante Cristovao is located on the second floor of the Confeitaria Colombo and serves a variety of Spanish and Portuguese-influenced dishes.

5. Gaia Art & Café

Restaurant, Vegetarian

One of the few eateries in Brazil to cater well for vegetarians, Gaia Art & Café focuses on using natural and organic products in its cooking to promote healthy eating. Dishes on offer change regularly but diners can expect plates full of skewered marinated vegetables and tofu with brown rice and organic salad; vegetarian feijoada and pumpkin on a bed of lentil rice. The café itself has a casual atmosphere and the regular live jazz bands make it a great hangout spot for guests looking to enjoy a couple of drinks as well as a low-key dinner.

6. Porcao Rio’s


Offering diners delicious meat dishes with a view, Porcao Rio’s is for serious carnivores. Sat outside the restaurant with the most enviable view of Sugar Loaf mountain, guests are invited to enjoy the most decadent churrascaria imaginable. Ten different cuts of beef including prime rib, sirloin and rump are skewered and perfectly cooked over a hot flame before being hand-carved tableside to hungry diners. An elaborate buffet of antipasti, cold cuts, cheeses, salads, seafood, sushi and traditional side dishes compliments the meat and guests are allowed to help themselves to as much or as little as they like. Just the aroma of sizzling beef is enough to tempt true meat lovers inside, but be sure to bring your appetite if you’re eager to try all ten tasty cuts.

7. Refeitorio Organico

Restaurant, Healthy, Vegetarian

organic food Rio de Janeiro
© Pexels

Perfect for anyone on a health kick or for those who have over-indulged at the churrascarias, the Refeitorio Organico is an eco-conscious vegan restaurant in the hip neighbourhood of Botafogo. Open for lunch daily, diners can choose between the great value all-you-can-eat buffet upstairs or the a la carte menu options downstairs. Dishes on offer include rice with raisins and chestnuts, okra stew, Moroccan couscous, leek burgers and bean salads. On a particularly hot day, it’s worth popping along to try one of the deliciously refreshing fruit juices. An abundance of flavours are available but for something typically South American, opt for the guava, watermelon or papaya.

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