Out of all the cuisine in Rio de Janeiro, none has undergone a gastronomic revolution in recent times quite like the humble burger. With a wave of burger joints and food trucks raising the standards, chefs have been eagerly embracing the challenge by moving away from tradition and adding in a variety of gourmet meat, bread and sauce options. Here are some of the best burger spots in Zona Sul – the south zone of the city.
Restaurant, Brazilian, American, Fast Food, Vegetarian, $$$
T.T. Burger has been a big hit in Rio, evident in its four stores located in prime spots across the city – Arpoador, Leblon, Barra da Tijuca, and Botafogo. The keys to its success are its simple menu that limits choices to just a few options, and its famous guava ketchup. All burgers are freshly made on site, resulting in generously-sized, fresh patties in between freshly baked buns. There is also a vegetarian option too.
One of Botafogo’s hottest bars, Comuna rarely sees a quiet day as hoards of people squeeze into the small venue on a daily basis before eventually spilling out onto the street in search of space. The bar has become a hipster haven with its effortlessly casual ambience and creative art gallery at the back. Yet people from all over the city come here to get one of their famous, homemade burgers. The X-Wilson – 160 grams (5.64 ounces) of beef, gouda cheese and a choice of sauce – and the Pala – a 200-gram (seven-ounce) beef burger flavoured with beer, cheese, house pickles, salad, ketchup and house mayonnaise – are the two most popular choices. Comuna also serves crunchy, homemade fries, and shakes with locally-sourced ice-cream.
Proving that Botafogo is undergoing a radical transformation that is making it in vogue at the moment, Hell’s Burger is another burger joint in the neighborhood, famed for its innovative and gourmet-style burgers. The rock-themed venue gets crowded on the weekends with visitors making the most of the walls to lean on when the seats get quickly taken. The Fifty-Fifty burger – half rib meat and half bacon – is topped with homemade spicy or barbeque sauce, and is one of the most popular from the menu. The Colt 45 burger is a massive two kilo (4.4 pound) burger, made especially for sharing with friends – or just for the incredibly hungry.
Cafe, Restaurant, American, Fast Food, Dessert, Vegetarian, $$$
Gringo Café is located in prime tourist spot, Ipanema. Gringo is a term often used in Brazil to refer to anyone that isn’t Brazilian –foreigner, in other words – and, as the name suggests, Gringo Café has become a popular hangout spot for backpackers, expats and international travelers. American owner, Sam Flowers, has worked to create authentic food from the U.S. and that includes the traditional burger on the venue’s menu that comes with a choice of toppings and extras.
Kraft Café is relatively new on the Ipanema gastronomic scene and is the result of two Australian expats. During the day, it’s known to serve good coffee with a wide selection of desserts and cakes, transforming in the evening to a livelier hangout with smooth caipirinhas and creative cocktails on the menu. It’s also known for its homemade burger, the Drunken Aussie, that sticks to enduring traditions of a burger with a fried egg, BLT, beetroot and a special homemade sauce.
Based in Laranjeiras, this popular bar is renowned for its great food and extra-cold beers. Menu options include typical pub-grub that embraces the creativity and quality of the radically improving culinary scene, such as hot dogs loaded with cheese or homemade sauces and thick potato wedges. The Botero Burger keeps things traditional with a chunky beef patty, thin bread rolls so the burger steals the show, cheese and a helping of caramelized onion.
The modern, breezy setting of B, de Burger provides the appropriate environment for its gourmet fast food menu. The food options are centered around hot dogs, crinkle-cut fries and a variety of burgers, the latter being the main star of the venue. Their self-named classic house burger is made with 210 grams (7.4 ounces) of rib meat and is served with bacon mayonnaise and caramelized onions, and is one of the most popular on the menu. Other notable options include the vegetarian burger made with shiitake mushrooms and red onion reduction, and the mammoth 420-gram (15-ounce) burger for seriously hungry diners.