The empada is a Brazilian pie that is small and is served either open with the filling exposed or totally encased in pastry. It is a traditional part of a carioca night out: a few empadas in a bar washed down with an icy cold chopp. The most classic fillings are dried meat, prawns, chicken, and heart of palm, sometimes mixed with catupiry, a Brazilian cream cheese.
Boteco Belmonte is one of the most popular chains of botecos in Rio, famous for its cold chopp, warm atmosphere and its delicious empadas. Throughout the night, waiters will pass by, weaving through the tables carrying trays filled with various types of empadas to tempt the customers (and it works). The most popular is the open top empadas with dried meat and cream cheese that have a small, buttery base and a huge pile of meat on top. The closed pies of prawn or chicken are also incredibly satisfying.
One of the most traditional bars in Rio, this laid back locale is situated in the tranquil and picturesque setting of Urca. Head here to pick up an ice cold beer and a selection of empadas before crossing the street to sit on the low wall overlooking Guanabara Bay. One of the best empadas is the cheese one, with its soft pastry and gooey cheese center.
Bar Astor has an unbeatable advantage: it boasts views across the shoreline of Arpoador and Ipanema and is within easy eyeline of the setting sun over in Leblon. The outdoor seating area as a result is strongly disputed among guests. The empadas here have a firm pastry that tightly contain the generous portion of filling inside. One of the tastiest is the dried meat with cream cheese, washed down with an icy cold chopp of Brahma.
O Caranguejo translates to ‘the crab’, so it comes as no surprise that this traditional restaurant specializes in seafood. It has been serving customers in Copacabana for the last 40 years and has become a regular stop off for picking up an empada on the way home from work. One of the best pies on the menu uses freshly caught prawns of the day, resulting in a rich, flavorful taste. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, just like a classic boteco ought to be.
Bar, Restaurant, Brazilian, Portuguese, Pub Grub, $$$
Jobi is a traditional and popular bar in Leblon that gets lively and rowdy (in a good way) in the early hours of the morning. The menu is filled with classic Brazilian dishes and it serves a selection of empadas that perfectly complement their cold beers. The prawn empada is one of the most ordered from the menu, famous for its flaky pastry and chunks of prawns.
Casa da Empada (The House of Empadas) was the first shop in Rio to specialize in empadas, opening 30 years ago in Tijuca. The popularity of the light, buttery pastry grew and today there are 25 Casa da Empada shops and stands throughout the city. The prawn, codfish, and cheese with onion are the three that sell the most. There is also a sweet empada called Romeu e Julieta which is filled with a soft white cheese and a guava jelly – it is to die for.
Boteco Cabidinho is in Botafogo and is known for its warm, welcoming and friendly atmosphere. The interior is wooden with larger-than-life characters painted on the walls and a TV screen propped up to watch all the big football or UFC matches. They serve a range of classic empadas such as dried meat, chicken, prawns and cheese. The chicken with cream cheese is especially delicious here.
This restaurant in Tijuca is centered around tradition and has been operating since 1957. From the most sophisticated magazines to more informal blogs, their empadas regularly feature on everyone’s top 10 lists. The empadas are made daily on site and from scratch, making each and every one the freshest it can be. The most popular fillings are chicken, prawns and heart of palm.
Bar, Restaurant, Brazilian, Pastries, Pub Grub, $$$
One of the most traditional botecos in Copacabana is also one of the most popular, with crowds spilling out onto the street any given day of the week. Its simplicity and lively atmosphere captures the essence of the classic carioca boteco and the empadas are compact, plump and delicious. One of the most popular options is the empada filled with a rich tomato and prawn sauce. Arrive early to get a seat: from 7pm onwards you may finding yourself standing.
Academia da Cachaça has two branches, one in Barra da Tijuca and one in Leblon. As the name suggests, it specializes in cachaça, one of the few bars in Rio that truly focuses on this national spirit. For empadas that add a flair to classic fillings, this is the place to go. The choice is limited to just three options, but this is actually a blessing in disguise; you can try all three – cheese with rosemary, prawns, and rib meat – on the same night.