A feast of Brazilian flavours at Bar do Mineiro — Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Galindez
Foodie visitors to Rio de Janeiro will be in their element. The residents are as passionate about food as they are about life's other essentials (namely beaches, soccer, music and dancing), and any visit to the city is sure to be packed with gourmet adventures.
While the city is famous for its churrascarias (grilled meat restaurants, of which the best known is Porcao), Rio offers plenty of meat-free treats, too. The tropical climate means that there are more varieties of colorful fruit and vegetables here than any visitor could name, and many of these are blended into energy-boosting juices or vitaminas (with milk).
Breakfast time in Brazil is always a high point of any foodie's day. Whether you're blowing the budget with a stay at a luxury hotel or keeping things cheap and cheerful at a hostel or budget hotel, you'll rise to a feast of fresh fruits, breads, cold meats and cheeses, cakes and hot, strong coffee. Brazilian cheese often disappoints, but make a point of trying queijo minas. This white, semi-soft cheese originates from the Minas Gerais state and has a fresh, moreish taste.
After breakfast, head for the beaches and take a stroll along the sands. Whether you opt for Ipanema, Copacabana or Arpoador (right in the middle of the two), you'll be offered ample opportunity to cool down with a refreshing coconut water. Served with a straw at beach kiosks dotted along the sands, this ultra-hydrating drink from a young coconut is known as a great hangover cure. A fresh coconut water by the beach is a delicious way to rehydrate — Photo courtesy of FabioFabiol/Flickr
When hunger strikes, make your way inland to one of Rio's many excellent buffet restaurants. These popular lunch spots operate on a pay-by-weight basis; thus, sushi, bean salads and steak cost the same as heavy staples. Buffet restaurants often offer a carvery as well as abundant salads and sides, while Blyss Holy Foods is a great vegan option in Ipanema offering a set price for as many trips to the buffet as you can manage.
Budget travelers will find that cheaper buffet restaurants can be found in Centro, and most spots offer reduced prices after 2 p.m. (closing around 3:30 p.m.). Whether you are in Centro or Zona Sul, it is worth making lofty Santa Teresa your destination of choice for evening dining. Here you can find all manner of enticing Brazilian dishes- from Amazonian piranha soup at Espirito Santa to hearty dishes from Northeastern Brazil at the welcoming Bar do Arnaudo.
Rio's bars also double as places to eat, and Santa Teresa's lively destinations such as Bar do Mineiro and Bar do Gomez are great places to meet locals while sampling a range of bar snacks, such as the ubiquitous bolinhos de bacalhau (cod and potato balls). There's no doubt you'll be delightfully stuffed after your Rio de Janeiro foodie escapade.