The pastel is a typical Brazilian snack that is either served in small, half-moon shapes in bars or at feiras (farmer’s markets) as large rectangular deep-fried pastries. They are often enjoyed with a cold beer on a night out or on a Sunday at a farmer’s market with a sugar cane juice. Typical fillings include dried meat, cheese, palm of heart and prawns with catupiry, a Brazilian cream cheese.
Bar do Adão
Cocktail Bar, Brazilian, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, $$$
Synonymous with pastels, Bar do Adão has long ruled the top spot as the best place in the city for pastels. Some pastels earn the nickname pastel de vento (windy pastel) when the inside is half filling, half air, yet these words are never uttered inside this establishment. The pastels are compact and bursting at the seams with over 60 choices of fillings, including francês (prawns, spring onions and catupiry), italiano (dried tomatoes, blue cheese and rocket), brie and apricot (to die for), and the irresistible sweet pastel with a melted sonho de valsa inside, a type of Brazilian bom-bom.
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The most famous restaurant in Santa Teresa has earned the respect of locals and tourists alike for its charming, stimulating environment and for its menu that serves a number of star dishes. One of the most famous is the feijoada, a typical Brazilian bean and meat stew. Perhaps not a coincidence then is that one of the best snacks on the menu is the pastel de feijão (bean pastel). Bar do Mineiro serves them in 12 mini portions, which are perfect to share as a nibble or to eat by yourself with a cold beer.
Bar Urca is a small establishment in Urca where its charm lies in the wall outside that overlooks Guanabara Bay and offers a spot for glorious sunsets. The casual etiquette of the bar is its key appeal with regular trips between the bar and the public wall for an idyllic evening of drinking and eating. Here, the prawn pastels are a highlight and are generously filled with chunky prawns in a tomato sauce, made all the better from the serene setting.
A farmer’s market is one of the most traditional places in Brazil to get a pastel. Here, the pastels have earned the name windy pastel, yet this is not a factor of stinginess; it is simply the result of large pastels that would be almost impossible to finish if it were so stuffed with filling. The farmer’s market pastels are a must-try and come as fresh as can be. Deep fried on the spot, they come with limited but classic fillings; pizza (cheese, tomato and basil), dried meat, prawns, palm of hearts and shredded chicken. Wash them down with a chilled sugar cane juice for the most authentic Brazilian experience.
Bar da Gema is a typical Carioca (resident of Rio) boteco in Tijuca. Like the neighborhood it’s in, this boteco is growing in popularity and making a dent in the culinary scene in Rio de Janeiro. The menu is solid and accomplished rather than creative, which meets its objective of serving honest, traditional Brazilian food. The pastels are fresh and generously packed with filling, with the dried meat pastel a firm favorite among the regulars. Add a few drops of chili sauce for an added dimension.
A timeless bar in Leblon built from the tradition of a boteco with modern features, the willingness of people to stand and drink in the street when the seats fill up is a sign of this bar’s success. Not only does it serve extra cold beers and a flawless caipirinha, it gets the Brazilian snacks spot on. With waiters weaving in between the tables with trays of pies and delicious pastels, it’s impossible to resist trying some. The pastels come in various fillings such as crab, dried meat, prawns, prawns with cream cheese, chicken with cream cheese and palm of heart, all of which are worth trying.
Bar, Restaurant, Pub, Brazilian, Portuguese, Pub Grub, $$$
A casual hangout spot in upscale Leblon, Jobi attracts the local 18 to 30 crowd, as well as those that drop in for an after-work drink and bite to eat. Always teeming with a boisterous yet friendly group of people, this is one of the most popular pubs in town. There are few better pairings than a Jobi cold beer and one of their pastels, particularly the prawn one, which is made with fresh, juicy prawns.