We’re getting ready to head South. This time it’s Rio de Janeiro! Our tradition is to release what we call our “Pre-Trip” list, of secret ‘in the know’ lunch and dinner spots, before we add them to our guidebooks . It’s our way of saying thank you to the peeps that follow us.
Note: This list is the exact list that we will use when we’re in Rio. It’s not fancy (or frankly well written), rather just a compilation of the hottest spots we could find! Enjoy!
Forneria- A perfect lunch destination for Ipanema shoppers. In the tastefully underdone, concrete-floored space, genial young staffers serve Italian standards both traditional (pizza alla Margherita) and adventurous (tramezzini with salmon tartare). The newest cool restaurant from Grupo Fasano that also owns Gero, the best restaurant in town. This is younger and more hip than Gero. Beautiful people, nice music and atmosphere, open kitchen. Wood oven sandwiches, carpaccios , salads and amazing desserts.
Cocinelle Bistro- Offering visitors savory traditional French dishes, creatively prepared by Japanese chef Madame Coccinelle, in a relaxed atmosphere. A spacious yet cozy place decorated as a modern French bistro with tones of Japanese design throughout. Yves de Roquemaurel, a Parisian restaurateur, and Madame Coccinelle, a Japanese-born internationally trained chef, draw from their diverse backgrounds to create a dining experience that pushes the concept of modern French cuisine. Coccinelle Bistro- A new modern French bistro in the oldest street of Rio de Janeiro, Travessa do Comercio (Arco do Teles). The menu offers casual french cuisine in a casual, rustic/chic atmosphere. The chef, Maya, is Japanese, and she has a good knowledge of French bistro fare, which she chose to present in a Japanese bento style. Everyday there are 3 suggestions of bentos (appetizer, main course, side dish) with prices between R$ 28 and R$ 32, and a selection of homemade traditional deserts (creme caramel, tarte tatin, chocolate mousse etc…).
Zuka- The restaurant darling of the fashionable Leblon neighborhood, Zuka does Brazilian fusion with a foodie flair. Cast in an architectural dining room with crisp white resin chairs, cement walls and butcher block tables. Located in Rio’s posh Leblon neighborhood.
Alessandro and Frederico- Thin crust pizza fired up by a wood burning oven and an impressive wine cellar draws a chic, jet setting crowd to this stylish two-story restaurant. Walking into the Confeitaria Colombo is like stepping back in time. Belgian mirrors, curved glass cabinets and Italian marble counters set the scene of an early 20th-century café where Rio’s high society took afternoon tea. The upstairs gallery, beneath the glass roof has the best view and a nice buffet lunch is served there. Feijoada (meat and bean stew) buffet is served on Friday. À la carte meals are also available. No dinner. Closed Sunday.
Confiteria Colombo- Go back in time to Rio’s Belle Epoque. Decorated in the style of Rio’s Belle Epoque, this historic building is a definite must see for any tourist. The Brazilian/Portuguese lunch buffet and snack bar feature delectable favorites from both sides of the Atlantic. Walking into the Confeitaria Colombo is like stepping back in time. Belgian mirrors, curved glass cabinets and Italian marble counters set the scene of an early 20th-century café where Rio’s high society took afternoon tea. The upstairs gallery, beneath the glass roof has the best view and a nice buffet lunch is served there. Feijoada (meat and bean stew) buffet is served on Friday. À la carte meals are also available. No dinner. Closed Sunday.
Felice Cafe- Located one block away from Ipanema beach and General Osorio plaza, where the hippie market takes place on Sundays, Felice Cafe is a great alternative for a light meal. The atmosphere is casual – a two-story house with a small terrace. They have a great selection of breakfast items, salads, paninis, fruit juices, smoothies and… ice creams… Oh the ice creams! Treat yourself to one because they are their specialty – homemade and really good! Prices are reasonable. Overall, a lovely experience!
Salpicado- if you are looking for a fantastic little spot for a prix-fixe lunch, Salpicado is the place to go. It is located in the Quartier Ipanema building on the corner of Visconde de Piraja and Maria Quiteria. They are only open for lunch and have some of the freshest food and wonderful included deserts. Go on Wednesday and their desert is “sonho de bombom”, which literally translated in English is “chocolate candy dream”. Ivenette is the owner, manager and her wait staff is friendly, helpful and not bad-looking either!!! The price is around US$13.00 and worth every penny.
Oro Restaurant- Felipe Bronze, an experienced chef trained at the CIA, Cullinary Institute of America, is making very modern food helped by some chemical experience as Ferran Adria has offered at EL BULLI, the famous one hour driving from Barcelona restaurant. If you like surprises when you go to dine with your wife or husband try ORO. They are open only for dinners and it’s recommended to make reservations.
Brigitte’s Cafe Rio- In keeping with its illustrious siblings the design is clean and bright by day, more atmospheric and even a little Mediterranean by night, with a subtle bar-restaurant division making for a different eating or drinking experience depending on the mood.
Market Ipanema- YUM, this place is tucked away in busy Ipanema, that alone makes it a nice reprieve from the bustling streets. The indoor/ outdoor feel, the wonderful food, and people watching are top-notch. There are great juice (sucos) & smoothie options. The food is diverse, plentiful, and tasty.
CT Boucherie- Superb food and service. Good wine. It is recommended to have a reservation, because the restaurant is always full. The meat is really wonderful! Side dishes are served as a buffet at your table and are delicious. #1 on Trip Advisor.
ZaZa Bistro- The food is great with very nice flavors. We tried several things and liked everything. The staff is also very friendly. But go early (they only accept reservations via site) and if you don’t have local bank card or MasterCard take money with you.
Aprazivel- Go to Aprazivel earlier and enjoy Bar dos Descasados, in Santa Teresa Hotel. Good atmosphere and view. This restaurant is located high above Rio literally in the trees (some of the tables are in a treehouse). In addition to the great location, the food is amazing. The hearts of palm and the octopus are both must-haves.
Oui Oui- Tapas has finally made it to Rio at Oui Oui, which has created a wonderful menu of 20 small dishes that can be combined into a very satisfying meal. Start off with a refreshing Moranguito cocktail (sparkling wine, strawberries, and mint) and a plate of spring rolls stuffed with fresh figs and shredded duck.
Iraja Gastro- After the ‘70s-inspired lounge-come-waiting area, complete with arty books and an almost poetic drinks menu, the brighter, palm-lined wall of the main room exudes a more typical, modern carioca warmth. Next door, the kitchen neighbors a ‘chef’s table’, an eight-person dining experience that takes care of the serious business of bringing chef Pedro Artagão (formerly of MAM’s slick Laguiole restaurant) and diner closer together for those with the forward planning to book the popular spot.
Gero - Gero may be the best Italian restaurant in Rio. It is always full and always expensive, but each single dish is delectable. The movers, shakers and beautiful people are here too.
Drop us a line and let us know what you thought!