Best Rio de Janeiro Restaurants for Families

Family-friendly restaurants in Rio de Janeiro  rarely offer high chairs, crayons and children's menus, but they certainly extend a warm welcome to children of all ages. And while it is rare to find a toilet with a baby changing table, staff at family friendly Rio restaurants will always go out of their way to make things as easy as possible for parents with young children, and will never make family groups feel like a nuisance. 

It may take a little while to get to grips with the way dining out with children works in Rio, but visitors should feel reassured by the sheer number of family groups they will see eating out at restaurants in every price category. Many Rio de Janeiro restaurants also function as bars, and kids are welcome here too - especially now that that a ban on smoking indoors is being rigorously adhered too. 

Portion sizes tend to be huge, and waitstaff will be happy to bring an extra plate so that younger family members can share their parents meals, while our top pick - Porcao Rio's - offers free dining at  its all-you-can-eat meat and buffet feast for children under five-years-old. 

Buffet restaurants such as Churrascaria Pampa Grill are good news for families as kids can pick and choose what they want to eat, and how much of it, while children will love the tree-house feel at Aprazivel.


Copacabana Beach
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

There's no danger of going hungry on Copacabana beach. While vendors stroll the sands selling simple snacks and sandwiches, the boardwalk is lined with bars and restaurants that range from cheap and cheerful to seriously sophisticated. Here you can tuck into everything from a plate of fried sardines to smoked salmon washed down with a glass of genuine French Champagne. When it comes to relaxed dining, this is really the way to do it, and the leisurely pace of life here means you can linger as long as you like over your meal and drinks. With some kiosks open into the small hours, this is a great place to start or end a night out.

For a taste of what Rio was like during the city's 'golden age', head to this historic cafe-restaurant in downtown Rio. Ornate chandeliers and jacaranda wood mirrors make an elegant setting for breakfasts, brunches and afternoon teas, and this is the ideal place to take the weight of your feet and soak up the opulence during a shopping or sightseeing spree in Centro. Younger children will be dazzled by the glittering chandeliers and regal feel, and the afternoon tea - with elegant little sandwiches, dainty pastries and dinky pots of jams and jellies - is like something from a fairy tale. As well as hot drinks, adults can order boozy drinks while the children sip a fresh orange

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).


The atmosphere may be lighthearted at this lively pizza restaurant in leafy Jardim Botanico, but the art of pizza-making is taken very seriously. The dough is left to rise for five days, resulting in a wonderfully light and crisp base for any number of toppings imaginable. Customers can take their pick from classic combinations such as mozzerella, fresh tomato and oregano, or experiment with more unusual ingredients such as leek, cream cheese and herb. There are plenty of meaty toppings too, such as Italian parma ham, and the Portuguesa - with quail eggs, olives, ham and Chilean oregano, is another speciality of the house.

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 alongside craft and clothing stores, the 'Feira Nordestina' is a great place to sample the often-spicy cuisine from the arid north of the country. Those who find food in Rio to be a little bland may want to sample some of the many colorful chili peppers and pepper sauces here, while seafood fans are well catered for too. Eating opportunities range from quick snacks on the hoof to hearty meals served from heaving buffets, many of which serve food priced by its weight, not its type - meaning that 100 grams of lobster could cost the same as 100 grams of white rice.

Cultivar Brazil
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

This little lunchspot at the heart of Santa Teresa is a real treasure trove of tastiness for anybody with a gluten intolerance or a preference for organic ingredients. Alongside a range of wholemeal sweet and savory tarts and pies and some yummy sandwiches, there are gluten-free cakes, tarts (try the palm-heart and yogurt) and a mini-store stocked with a range of pastas, biscuits and other goodies to take away. In addition, Cultivar Brazil serves arguably the best Pao de Queijo in the city (little cheese breads made with manioc flour), here made with organic ingredients. It´s worth waiting until a batch comes fresh out of the oven - these little golden beauties are at their best served piping hot.

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 - whose masterwork, the Lapa Steps, lies just a few minutes' walk from the restaurant - and the accommodating staff always offer the warmest of welcomes and the speediest of service. Not the best spot for dieters, the restaurant (it's a bar in name only) serves hearty dishes such as sundried beef with cassava, rice and beans, while vegetarians can opt to switch the meat for 'queijo coalho' - thick slabs of grilled white cheese. Exercise caution when spooning on the pepper sauce that is served with each dish, it's fiery stuff. Set meals for one easily serve two or even three, making this a cost-effective spot for families.

Located high on a jungle-clad hillside in Santa Teresa, Aprazivel is worth a visit for the views alone. Wisely making the most of the sweeping vistas over downtown Rio, the owners have made al-fresco dining the order of the day, here, with grass-roofed gazebos sitting amid lush tropical gardens visited by toucans and monkeys. At night, the scene is lit by candles and flickering fairy lights which, when combined with the views and the delicious French-Brazilian dishes on the menu, makes this one of the best spots in Rio for a romantic meal. Chef Ana Castilho has combined Brazilian culinary influences with tricks of hte trade learned during her training in France, and the result is a menu of light dishes that add some chic French touches to the wealth of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood available locally.

Aimed squarely at North Americans with a hankering for taste of their homeland, Gringo Cafe does a roaring trade in US DIner-style favorites such as hash browns, bottomless coffees, pancakes, waffles and French toast, as well as delicious cakes, milkshakes and cheese burgers made with imported American cheese. The breakfasts, served all day, are manna from heaven for many homesick ex-pats, who can indulge a craving for bacon, eggs made any way you choose, while mains such as mac & cheese and spaghetti with meatballs also help to keep homesickness pangs at bay. A couple of blocks back from the beach, Gringo Cafe is also popular with wealthy locals keen to experience a taste of North America, but the English-speaking staff mean that bedazzled visitors to the city can relax and put the phrase book away here.

This popular steakhouse offers top quality grilled meats on a 'rodizio' basis - waiters flit among the tables, offering slice after freshly-cooked slice to diners. The main emphasis is on beef, but chicken and pork get a look-in too, and there's a lavish buffet laden with all manner of tempting sides. The set price of around R$120 includes limitless meat and as many trips to the buffet as you can manage, and vegetarians can opt for a 'Market Table' - trading the meat cuts for treats such as hearts of palm, quinoa salads and imported cheeses.


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.