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.
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.
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.
You’ll find Estrela D’Agua on the beach to the north of town. It is a complex of rooms and small apartments but it has an excellent beach-club style restaurant. Thatched cabanas, low tables and striped day beds make it a tempting place to settle in and get stuck in. The cocktails, including the classic caipirinha, slip down all too easily and the light Japanese food is perfect for a hot day on the beach.
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.