The Top Restaurants in Trancoso, Bahia

Trancoso | © Ana Paula Hirama/Flickr
Georgia Grimond

Trancoso‘s trajectory from cut-off village to hippy hangout and now holiday hub for the rich and famous has left an array of restaurants. Be warned, many of them don’t come cheap but the food is good and the inescapable romance of most places will leave you forgiving of the bill. Choose local Bahian dishes or freshly caught catch of the day, or venture further afield with cuisine from Japan, Peru and Italy.

1. UXUA Quadrado

Restaurant, Brazilian, European, Contemporary, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan

UXUA is a laid-back luxe hotel that has rightly earned its place as the darling of the Trancoso hotel scene. It has a prime position on the town’s grassy square, known as the Quadrado, so diners at its restaurant eat under the gentle rustle of trees, glow of candle light and watching the slow amble of passers-by. The food is sophisticated yet loyal to the local ingredients and flavours of Bahia and, given the demands of many of their guests, the staff are exceptionally accommodating.

2. Capim Santo

Restaurant, Brazilian, European, Asian, South American, Seafood, Vegetarian

Having been promoting relaxed, rustic dining in the town since 1985 and with branches in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, it makes sense that Capim Santo is one of Trancoso’s stand-out restaurants. On the menu is culinária baiana, with abundant fish dishes, including ceviche, lobster, seafood risotto and Thai curries. Musicians often perform to serenade diners in the evenings and both the restaurant and hotel do impressive work to reduce their ecological footprint.

3. El Gordo

Restaurant, Brazilian, European

El Gordo is another hotel with a restaurant that dishes up delicacies in an exceptional setting. Its dining tables, most of which are outside, are by the pool and look out over tree tops, the beach below and to the horizon – a view few places in Trancoso enjoy. The shrimp and octopus are recommended, and the pastas over the meat dishes.

4. Maritaca

Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian, Vegetarian, Brazilian

Maritaca is the go-to pizza joint for families, couples, big groups and whoever else you are hanging with. Spacious, high-ceilinged and with a garden, its cushioned benches are ideal for cosying up after a day in the sunshine. Watch the chefs kneading the dough and feeding the pizzas into the oven in the open kitchen and choose from all kinds of combinations of their thin, crustless, oozing pizzas.

5. Tapioca da Sandra

Restaurant, Brazilian, Fast Food, Street Food, Gluten-free, South American, Vegan, Vegetarian

When your wallet starts to feel worryingly light, Sandra and her famed tapiocas will come to your rescue. All over Brazil people eat white folded pancakes made of tapioca which comes from grated manioc root. Gluten-free and ultra versatile, you fill them with whatever you please. Lots of the stallholders who gather at the end of the Quadrado sell them but Sandra’s are by far the best – a fact that has been widely corroborated by hundreds of Brazilians.

6. Silvana & Cia

Restaurant, Brazilian, Seafood, Fast Food, Street Food

Silvana & Cia operates from both the Quadrado and on the beach. It too arrived with the hippies who took to this little village on sea in the Eighties. Since then it has occupied one of the former fisherman’s houses on the square and fed people under the protective arms of an ancient tree. Don’t mess about with the menu; the moqueca is all you need. Made from coconut dendê oil it is the dish of Bahia and, as it is made for two, is a feast designed for sharing.

7. La Cevicheria

Restaurant, Peruvian, Seafood, South American, Gluten-free

La Cevicheria is a Peruvian restaurant that rightly capitalises on Trancoso’s proximity to the sea. Here they pack their signature dishes with the freshest of fish. There is plenty else to chose from, including the daily special. No ceviche is complete with a frothy headed pisco sour which you can also get your hands on here. Price-wise, dinner is a good deal compared to many of the town’s other restaurants.

8. O Cacau

Restaurant, Brazilian, Seafood, South American, Vegetarian

Set back from the Quadrado, O Cacao is an institution on the town’s green. It is constantly popular and doesn’t veer far from traditional Bahian cuisine which it does generously and well. Start with the casquinha de siri, shelled crab that comes with farofa crumbs (a Brazil staple) and fresh lime, and acarajé, another local delicacy make with shrimps. Then opt for the moqueca – a tasty, warming, hearty dish to share along the table.

9. Restaurante Rabanete

Restaurant, Fast Food, Healthy, Brazilian, Seafood, South American, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free

Restaurante Rabanete may be self-service – known as a kilo restaurant in Brazil as you pay by weight – but it is not to be sniffed at. The food is prepared with care and creativity and presented nicely in bowls on big wooden tables. For those with intolerances or other dietary requirements it gives complete control over what you get and the opportunity to pile your plate high. Sit outside and bask in the sunshine and be sure not to miss pudding.

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