The city center of Rio de Janeiro is moving away from its once grimy, crime-riddled image to a more vibrant, cultural hub. This transformation has put the spotlight on Centro’s varied gastronomical scene that embraces both traditional and contemporary across a broad range of local and international cuisines. Culture Trip explores some of the city center’s best restaurants.
The exposed brickwork supporting fully-stocked wine racks and vintage photos of Parisian streets elegantly captures this restaurant’s French roots. The dimly-lit restaurant is spread across two floors, with details such as jars filled with corks adding a cosy, country house feel. The food sticks to French classics yet boldly experiments with Brazilian flavors and ingredients, creating a wonderful balance between traditional and modern. Highlights on the menu include the duck main course, and more unusual options such as boar and ostrich.
The privileged location of Laguiole next to the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) and bordering the immaculate grounds of Flamengo Park add to the sophistication and elegance of this upscale restaurant. The menu represents classic French dishes yet is elevated with daring creative flair that sees main courses decorated with flowers and other eye-catching adornments. The dishes are constantly changing to reflect the new inspiration of the venue’s talented chef, and are served by attentive, thoughtful waiters.
A local haunt that rarely sees a tourist go inside, Escondidinho serves up traditional Brazilian food that builds upon tried and tested recipes that have worked for decades. It’s been in business the last 50 years, winning over regular customers who come back for their famous slow-cooked ribs with watercress and cassava, and the hearty feijoada on Fridays. The venue only opens during the week, catering for business people during the lunch hour.
It may seem a simple, nonchalant venue on the outside, but the inside is rich in Brazilian tradition and spirit. This friendly restaurant serves classic Brazilian foods that are popular among locals and influenced by food sold at the street stands. It’s unapologetically simple, yet that’s where its charm lies – in honest, accomplished food. The most famous dish on the menu is angu, a typical Brazilian cuisine made from corn flour mixed with water and salt. The chopped sausages with onions is also a popular dish.
Nova Capela creates a homely feel with patterned walls that evoke a traditional Portuguese family home from decades ago. The generous portions add to the familial vibe and the food reflects classic Portuguese dishes made from well-practiced recipes. The broccoli rice served with a hefty sprinkling of fried garlic is one of the most talked about items on the menu, and comes with a selection of protein-based foods such as lamb, wild boar, cod, or octopus.
The surrounding historic architecture creates a pretty and relaxing setting for Antigamente, a classic Brazilian restaurant in the heart of Rio’s downtown. The large, open archways give the venue a breezy, homely feel and the simple tables and chairs spill out onto the cobbled streets. The menu presents some of Brazil’s most trusted dishes such as carne seca (dried meat) pastels, and a hearty feijoada on Fridays.
The grand wooden door of L’atelier du Cuisinier leads into a charmingly simple and cosy restaurant. The stark white walls are broken up with photos and newspaper clippings, and the tables are nonchalantly decorated with simple table mats. Friendly and attentive waiters serve the menu that works around a three-course option at a reasonable price. The food is simple yet flavorful, representing the best of French and Brazilian cuisine in each dish.
A rare gem in Rio’s city center, Tempeh is one of the few truly vegetarian and organic restaurants in the region. The obscured entrance has no name indication, opting for a simple number casually perched above the doorway that leads to an uninviting, dark staircase. Although it may not be an enticing start, the restaurant more than makes up for it with its cosy, clean dining area and range of delicious, healthy food options presented as a buffet.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip 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 — and this is still in our DNA today. 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 certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.