Get Plenty of Bang for Your Buck at Rio's Best Value Restaurants

Formal dining in Rio de Janeiro can be an eye-wateringly expensive, but that's not to say that travelers on a budget will go hungry in Rio.

Many locals have a keen eye for places that are  'bom e barato' (good AND cheap), so bargain hunters should avoid restaurants aiming themselves squarely at the tourist market, and look out for spots that are packed with cariocas (Rio natives).

It is also worth bearing in mind that main meals in Rio often - but not always - serve two people, so check before ordering to avoid spending twice as much you need to.

In some places, even meals for one are huge - the 'individual' set meals at our top pick, Bar do Arnaudo in Santa Teresa, easily serve two or even three hungry diners. 

Also popular with budget conscious visitors to Rio are the city's many 'por kilo' restaurants - where diners take their pick from a buffet and pay according to the weight of their plate - offer everything from sushi and colorful salads to steak for a set price per 100 grams.  Generally catering to the lunchtime market, these spots are a great opportunity to try a number of different foods without spending  a lot of money.

There are even affordable options in famously pricey neighborhoods such as Leblon - try funky Mexican La Calaca for delicious dishes and cocktails that won't break the bank.




Occupying a corner building on Santa Teresa's liveliest square - Largo do Guimaraes - Cafe do Alto has carved out a reputation for serving delicious dishes at fair prices, in a wonderfully colorful setting. The emphasis is on food from Brazil's...  Read More

Feira Nordestina de Sao Cristovao
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


It doesn't feature on many tourist itineraries, but foodies in Rio should be sure to pay a visit to this vast market dedicated to all things Northeastern. A huge, purpose built space housing hundreds of food and drinks stalls and restaurants...  Read More

Cultivar Brazil
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


This little gem of a lunchspot at the heart of Santa Teresa is a real treasure trove of tastiness for anybody with an aversion to gluten or a preference for natural, organic ingredients. Alongside a range of wholemeal sweet and savory tarts and...  Read More



Located just a few steps from Catete Palace, with its pleasant gardens and interesting museum, this unassuming spot is the only place in Rio to sample food from Macau - a region of Southern China settled by the Portuguese. The result is an...  Read More



Whether you're a staunch vegetarian, a health-food enthusiast or even a carnivore who has tucked into one steak too many, this cosy corner restaurant in Leblon is just the ticket. Healthfood and organic eating is a growing sector of Rio's...  Read More



Budget travelers can feast on all manner of treats at this downtown lunch restaurant. The self-service buffet includes everything from sushi and rice noodles to hot meat, fish and chicken dishes, alongside staples like rice and beans, fries, and...  Read More

Bar do Bonde
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


Take just a slight detour from Santa Teresa´s main tourist trail and you´ll find one of the neighborhood´s best value bar-restaurants. Located just a few minutes´ walk (follow the tram line uphill from the main square at Largo do Guimaraes),...  Read More



This funky Mexican restaurant at the heart of Rio's trendy Leblon neighborhood serves food to satisfy any hankering for Mexican food, as well as immaculately-presented margaritas and other cocktails that taste as good as they look. The food is...  Read More



It doesn't look like much, but this unpretentious little spot in leafy Santa Teresa offers vast portions of delicious Northeastern Brazilian food at more than reasonable prices. The walls are hung with paintings by Chilean artist Selaron -...  Read More



This downtown vegetarian lunch spot is slightly hidden above a backstreet store, but it's well worth seeking out. A popular choice with local workers - whether veggie or just looking for a healthy and budget-friendly lunch. Each day there's a...  Read More


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.