Fine dining in Rio de Janeiro is no longer considered a contradiction in terms, and there are plenty of places in the city where you can savor immaculately prepared dishes in equally immaculate surrounds. But for those looking for something a little less formal (and a little less eye-wateringly expensive), the city's botecos (informal bar-restaurants) are wonderfully lively dining options.
Our pick of the hundreds of good Rio de Janeiro botecos is Bar e Restaurante Urca, a simple hole-in-the-wall spot that nonetheless attracts local celebrities like bees to a honeypot. Besides offering delicious versions of simple local cuisine (think fried sardines, cod and potato balls and an array of filled pastries rather than elaborate European dishes), Bar e Restaurante Urca wins numerous brownie points for its oh-so-tranquil location facing the bay in Urca, one of the most scenic and sedate neighborhoods in Rio.
Alfresco, informal dining at Bar e Restaurante Urca — Photo courtesy of PiqueBaleia.
While there are tables and chairs inside the restaurant, most diners choose to eat al-fresco, simply propping themselves up on the harbor wall. The waitstaff are well accustomed to dashing across the road from the bar to this makeshift leaning station, and as the sun sets over the bay, it is hard to think of a more enjoyable spot for a drink and a bite to eat.