The colorful neighborhood of Catete is not one of Rio de Janeiro's most celebrated neighborhoods, but it's still notable for some handsome historic buildings, such as the impressive Palacio do Catete ("Catete Palace"). The palace and its well-maintained park gardens bring a certain amount of tourism to this largely residential neighborhood. And, while it's not the place for fine dining, Catete does have some appealing culinary options, too.
Alongside a host of juice bars and fastfood joints, visitors to Catete will find several pay-by-weight buffet restaurants in Catete. Known here as comida a kilo, this style of eating is a hugely popular way to eat lunch in Rio, and it's a good way for visitors to sample a range of foods that may or may not be familiar.
Graca da Vila is a smart buffet restaurant in Catete — Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson
Diners at comida a kilo restaurants take their pick from a vast range of salads, sides and hot dishes, and their plates are then priced up by weight. The price is set per 100 grams; some restaurants lean toward simple and budget-friendly while others toward sophisticated and somewhat expensive.
Falling midway between the two is Catete's Graca da Vila, a smart buffet restaurant popular with lunching local business workers.
Handily located for visitors to Catete's principle tourist attraction – Catete Palace, a grand, 19th-century building that was once Brazil's presidential residence – Graca da Vila offers its clients a buffet that features sophisticated salads that will have vegetarians watering at the mouth, as well as hot rice, pasta, fish, red meat and chicken dishes, hot pies and hot vegetable sides that vary from day to day.
There's a separate section for sushi, as well as that all-important meat grill, where cuts of fillet steak, sausage and other carnivorous treats are expertly sliced and placed onto diners' plates.
By night, Graca da Vila turns its attentions to pizza. After 6 p.m., the restaurant offers a hugely popular Rodizio da Pizza. Rodizio is an all-you-can-eat system that sees waiters bring food to diners' plates for as long as they can continue eating.
Most commonly associated with meat grills, the rodizio concept is also regularly applied to pizza, and locals flock here for the opportunity to feast on as much pizza as they can handle for a set price of R$25.
The range of toppings means the taste buds don't quickly tire, and sweet-toothed diners may want to hold out for those uniquely Brazilian pizza propositions: sweet pizzas laden with such toppings as chocolate or banana and cinnamon.