search

The Most Dazzling Spots for Beachfront Dining in Rio de Janeiro



Rio de Janeiro beaches are the stuff of legend, and dining with a sea view at any beachfront restaurant is sure to be a memorable experience for the views alone. And while there are tourist traps to be wary of - plenty of restaurants are happy to rest on the laurels of their enviable locations and pay scant attention to the quality of their food and service - there is some genuinely fine dining to be found along the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, as well as at less internationally-celebrated beaches such as Arpoador and Urca. 

While visitors with deep pockets will find some top-notch restaurants at Copacabana Palace and Sofitel Rio, both located on Copacabana beachfront, budget travelers have plenty of options open to them, too. Simply take a stroll along the iconic black and white tiled promenades of Ipanema and Copacabana and you'll come across a seemingly endless parade of beach kiosks that range from simple spots serving cool beer and fresh sardines to more sophisticated kiosks offering imported wines and extensive cocktail lists. 

Where you choose to pull up a chair is entirely up to you, your tastes and your budget. And if you take a seat and are unimpressed by the menu, don't be too shy to get up and try somewhere else. 


Advertisement



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.


Garota da Urca
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


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.


Advertisement


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.




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.


Ipanema Beach


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.




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.


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.


Copacabana Beach
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


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.


Map

Meet Lucy Bryson

Lucy is a British freelance writer living in Rio de Janeiro since 2007. While there are some things she misses about her home country, the lure of year-round sunshine has proved too powerful to resist.

×