Whether you're a vegetarian, vegan, gluten-intolerant or just conscious of the quality of ingredients you put into your body, then you should make a beeline for the tiny corner cafe of Cultivar Brazil, located in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.
This simple spot serves delicious, wholesome food — Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson
Restaurant Cultivar Brazil prides itself on selling tasty goodies made from organic ingredients, and - bar some cheese and organic eggs - there's nary an animal product to be seen. Many of the items on the menu come in standard or gluten-free versions, making this a lifeline for vegetarians with a gluten or wheat intolerance.
Tasty banana cakes and savory palm-heart quiches are among the standouts on the menu, and there are daily specials, too. Look out for the wholesome-yet-yummy quinoa and vegetable soups sold during the cooler months of the year. (Yes, it does occasionally get cool in Rio de Janeiro.)
But while there is an array of tasty goodies to choose from, there are two real standouts that have helped Cultivar Brazil earn legendary status among foodies in Rio - acai and pao de queijo.
By far the most popular order here is the pao de queijo, (literally, "bread of cheese") and queues form to enjoy these little golden beauties fresh from the oven. Pao de queijo is a type of little roll made with manioc flour and cheese, and the quality of the ingredients used at Cultivar Brazil ensure that the version here is the best in the city. Made with organic free range eggs, fresh cheese and palm oil, the pao de queijo at Cultivar Brasil comes in full portions of eight small rolls (R$5), or as a half portion. Be warned: A half portion is rarely enough.
Follow your savory treat with a bowl of acai. This Amazonian "power berry," served frozen and crushed up into a kind of sorbet, is served at snack bars across Rio, but fans of the antioxidant-rich treat rate the acai at Cultivar Brazil as among the best in the city. Ask for granola on top for extra energy-boosting goodness.
The cafe doubles as a small health food store and is a good place for self-caterers to stock up on hard-to-find ingredients such as tofu, gluten-free bread and biscuits and organic versions of store cupboard staples such as pasta sauce and wholegrain rice. Another big seller is the gluten-free brownie (R$2.50), which is every bit as gooey and delicious as the "real" thing.
The decor is simple, and the space is small, but for quality ingredients and yummy, wholesome snacks at a very affordable price, Cultivar Brazil is the place.