This traditional bar-restaurant in Rio is famous for its late opening hours and its alcohol-absorbing food as well as its lively atmosphere. Cervantes now has several branches in Rio, but this Copacabana was the first and is still arguably the most appealing for those looking for good food, drink and prices and a lively local atmosphere. At this branch, there's a sit-down restaurant/bar and adjoining stand-up bar, where locals gather to eat, drink and chat until the early hours of the morning. Cervantes is famous above all else for its mammoth sandwiches - to say they are generously filled would be an understatement. The steak, cheese and pineapple version is a long-standing favorite on the menu.
Your morning coffee comes with a refreshing sea breeze and stunning sea views at this al-fresco spot in the grounds of Copacabana Fort. Breakfast is served at several outdoor table and, while service can be a little on the slow side, who's in a rush when you've got a view over Copacabana beach and out to sea? The 'farmhouse breakfast' (R$29) features corn cake, coffee cheese, baskets of bread, fruit and the delicious Brazilian speciality that is pao de quejo - little rolls of manioc flour and cheese. Come here with time to spare and take your time just soaking up the view and enjoying the cooling breezes.
Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: Good coffee, food and cocktails come with a side order of spectacular beach views at this relaxed spot at the edge of Copacabana.
Lucy's expert tip: Head here before a visit to Copacabana Fort Museum followed by a few lazy hours on the beach.
This welcoming spot by the beach in the gentile neigbourhood of Urca is actually part of a Rio bar-restaurant chain, but is no less appealing for that. The location, right by the sands and within a few minutes' stroll from Sugar Loaf mountain, is unbeatable, the service is snappy and the wait staff friendly, and the menu features a good mix of local main dishes and finger foods. Try the portion of pasteis (small pastries filled with shrimp, cheese, or meat) for a snack to share, or the fish dishes for something more substantial, and wash it down with an ice cold beer (there's a good range of bottled and draught here) or a tangy caipirinha.
Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: Copacabana Palace's more formal restaurant offers fine Italian dining just seconds from the beach.
Lucy's expert tip: Head here for a calming caipirinha after making the dizzying cable car ascent up Sugar Loaf mountain.
For the ultimate indulgent Rio experience, head to the Pergula, the elegant poolside restaurant at the enduringly elegant Copacabana Palace hotel. Less formal than the hotel's fine dining Italian restaurant, Cipriani. at Pergula you can dine in your (suitanbly stylish) swimwear and sarong. Watch beautiful people splash around in the pool as you sip Champagne cocktails and dine on seafood and light pasta dishes, or head here for the famous breakfasts and brunches, which include salmon and even caviar washed down with a spot of bubbly. The likes of the Obamas, Will Smith and Madonna have all dined here, so keep your eyes peeled for A-listers.
Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: The poolside restaurant at this legendary hotel is fabulously glitzy.
Lucy's expert tip: You don't need to be a guest at the hotel to dine at Pergula, but make an effort to look as casually-chic as possible if you want to make it past the doormen.
This elegant seafood-focused Italian restaurant at the super-chic Fasano Rio hotel is a favorite among business people looking to impress clients, as well as with romantic types looking to impress their dates. The Phillipe-Starck designed interiors have a cool, minimalist style with plenty of crisp white linen, and diners can request a private table separated from the main room by linen curtains. There are views over the beach, and the food is high quality, if also highly expensive. Chef Paolo Lavezzini joined the restaurant from the triple-Michelin-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, and creates wonderful pastas and seafood risottos, as well as other dishes that combine local ingredients with Mediterranean flavors.
Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: This chic seafood spot enjoys a prime location right in front of Ipanema beach.
Lucy's expert tip: Follow your meal with drinks a Baretto-Londra, Fasano Rio's hip bar
While Copacabana wins out as the most picture-perfect city beach in Rio, Ipanema is easily the more chic of the two neighboring stretches of sand. Less flanked by high rise hotels than its neighbor, Ipanema is the ideal place to while away the hours just working on that tan and watching the beautiful people glide by. There are scores of kiosks selling tempting food and drink, too. The towering twin peaks of the Dois Irmaos (two brothers) mountains frames the beach scene in spectacular fashion, and visitors will find the beach informally divided into social groups. Head to Posto Nove (Lifeguard post 9) for a young, hip crowd, or look for the giant rainbow flag if you're looking for gay-friendly sunbathing and socializing.
Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: The many informal kiosks that line Ipanema beach are wonderful places to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat.
Lucy's expert tip: Rio's beaches are its social spaces - don't be afraid to try out your Portuguese if somebody catches your eye on the beach, just make sure they're not already accompanied before you try out your lines!
This retro-chic gastrobar has a plum location in front of Ipanema beach and just a short stroll from Copacabana. Props to the place for maintaining a sense of fun while taking its food and drinks seriously. Top foodie picks are the seafood and pasta dishes, while the cocktail list is staggeringly long- there is even a menu entirely dedicated to gin and tonics. Meanwhile, beer drinkers can make themselves comfortable - waitstaff stroll around the bar selling ice-cold, freshly-poured chopp (draught beer) to customers right at their tables. The sidewalk patio is a wonderful place to watch the sun make its dramatic descent over Ipanema beach.
Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: Bar Astor has fine foodie offering as well as consistently good cocktails and a plum beachfront setting.
Lucy's expert tip: Head here in the late fternoon to bag a sidewalk table and enjoyfood and drinks as the sun dips over the water
Urca, the tranquil neighborhood that is home to Sugar Loaf mountain, warrants a longer visit than many tourists permit for in their itineraries, and there are few better spots in the city to linger over a beer and a bite to eat than this wonderfully relaxed bar-restaurant. Attracting a mix of locals. famous faces and tourists, the simple hole in the wall spot stands out for its stunning harbor-side location - after making your order at the bar, you can eat it propped up outside, taking in a view of the Christ statue as you watch fishing boats bob up and down on the calm waters. Forget any culinary pretensions and, indeed, calorie-counting, and enjoy local dishes such as fried polenta with shrimp, and towering stacks of fried potato or aipim (cassava).
Thanks to an enviable location at Copacabana's closest point to Ipanema, Atlantis offers stunning views that take in the length of Copacabana beach. An outdoor seating area makes the most of these sweeping vistas, and the food on offer is just as appetizing as the visual feast. There are some solid renderings of French and European dishes, but locals flock here for the Saturday feijoada, the perfectly grilled picanha steak, and the famous Sunday seafood buffet. With attentive service and a perfectly-crafted caipirinha, this is one of the best spots in the city to enjoy dinner with a sea breeze.
Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: Stunning views, delicious food and great service make this one of Copacabana's culinary high points.
Lucy's expert tip: This hotel restaurant is open to non-guests, but book ahead to secure a table.
Copacabana beach is a real treasure trove for hungry and thirsty visitors. There are options here to suit every taste and every budget. You can take your pick from the many kiosks selling everything from Champagne and seafood to peculiar cone-shaped pizzas, or just grab a sandwich or freshly grilled cheese from a passing vendor on the sands. This is one of the best places in Rio to shop for keepsakes and gifts for friends and family back home - and you can do it all from the comfort of a beachfront bar. Vendors stroll along the beachfront, selling all manner of goods from replica christ statues (scaled down, of course) to hats, t-shirts and sarongs.
Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: At Copacabana you can take a walk along the promenade until you find a restaurant to suit your taste and wallet.
Lucy's expert tip: Come in your swimwear - that way you can tan as you eat and drink.