Best Group Friendly Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro

Sociable Spots for Group-Friendly Dining in Lively Rio de Janeiro

Much of Rio de Janeiro´s social scene centers around food, and the city is well geared up towards large groups of diners. 

As Brazilians rarely drink on an empty stomach, most bars serve food - from petiscos - (bar snacks) to hearty, alcohol-absorbing full meals, and most botequims (bar-restaurants) are perfectly happy to host families with young children as well as large and lively groups of friends.

Among the best-loved of Rio's food-focused botequims are Leblon institution Jobi, famed for its excellent bolinhos de bacalhau (seasoned cod and potato balls) and the lively Bar do Mineiro in Santa Teresa, which serves hearty traditional plates from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil as well as some delicious small eats such as pastries stuffed with cheese, shrimp, or black beans. 

Our top pick is trendy Spanish restaurant Venga, in Leblon, which led the charge for Tapas restaurants in Rio, and politely suggests that patrons turn off their phones and talk among themselves. Nearby Stuzzi offers Tapas-style dining with Italian small plates.  Also in Leblon, La Calaca does Mexican food - and tequila-based drinks - with aplomb.

For something more traditional, head to Porcao for a meat feast that can be stretched out over an entire afternoon or evening - here waiters bring cut after cut of freshly grilled meat to your table, while an immense buffet of salads and sides ensures vegetarians won´t go hungry.

Rio de Janeiro is gradually developing its own cafe culture, too, and Cafecito is one of the best options in town with its leafy, ornate terrace, good strong coffees and cocktails and delicious light meals. 


Based on the Italian concept of 'Stuzzichini' - small plates of light bites for sharing over drinks, similar to Spanish Tapas or Greek Mezze - Stuzzi brings together deliciously moreish finger foods and dangerously drinkable cocktails to create one of the most enticing options along the foodie strip that is Leblon's Rua Dias Ferreira. The street has become the must-visit address for gourmands visiting Rio. and acclaimed chef Paula Prandini (formerly of top-end French restaurant Le Pre Catalan) works wonders with imported Italian deli ingredients and native Brazilian fruits and vegetables to create immaculate dishes in a laidback lounge that is as sleek and chic as its fashionable neighborhood demands.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Small, tapas-style plates for sharing are on the menu at this hip Leblon Italian.

Lucy's expert tip: Looking for something more substantial? Try the Sunday afternoon feast that is the 'Buffet da Mama', featuring homely, rustic Italian dishes.

Read more about Stuzzi →

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 dining scene, but this Leblon favorite was one of the first to open, and is still unarguably one of the best. At lunch, diners can load their plates high at a wholefood buffet including soups, salads, beans, rice, soya dishes and a range of healthy pies and pastries for a set price, while a-la-carte options are available in the evening. The vegan version of 'feijaoda', the usually-meaty national dish, made here with smoked tofu, is legendary.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Delicious stone-baked pizzas can be enjoyed al-fresco at this pleasant Santa Teresa restaurant

Lucy's expert tip: Fancy a drink that doesn't come loaded with too many toxins? At Vegetariano Social Clube you can choose from a range of organic wines, or enjoy a caipirinha made with organic cachaca.

Read more about Vegetariano Social Clube →

In a neighborhood where many bars are formal and a little stuffy, Jobi is a breath of fresh air. The early-opening, late-closing Leblon institution is a fine example of the Rio boteco - botecos being informal bars serving food and good company to a relaxed crowd. Locals and out-of-towners alike flock here for perfectly-kept draught beers, well-mixed cocktails and an extensive range of bar snacks that includes moreish versions of local staples such as bolinhos de bacalhau(fried cod and potato balls). The bar opens late and closes early, so you're sure to be able to fit in a visit - whether it be for an early morning coffee, early evening food and drinks, or an end-of-the-night cocktail.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: This legendary Leblon bar serves ice cold beer and some of the best bar snacks in town.

Lucy's expert tip: Head here for post-beach drinks or for end-of-the-night nibbles - the bar is open from 9am to 4am daily.

Read more about Jobi →

Chico & Alaide
Photo courtesy of Chico & Alaide

The Brazilian bar snack, when well made, is a beautiful thing, and those at Chico & Alaide are among the best in Rio. The pair behind the bar have created a 'petiscos' (snacks) list that is so extensive it is hard to know where to begin, but it really is hard to go wrong with any of the orders at this much-loved Leblon establishment. A good place to begin is with a couple of orders of 'bolinhos' - little fried balls of cassava or polenta, stuffed with yummy ingredients such as shrimp and catupiry - a creamy soft cheese. The empadas (little pies made with light, buttery pastry) are also delicious, and a wide choice of beers, wines and cocktils helps keep the atmosphere lively. For relaxed drinking and dining in Leblon, this is a top spot.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: The relaxed ambience and vast range of small plates make this a great group destination.

Lucy's expert tip: Order a selection of petiscos (nibbles) to share for a tapas-style dining experience.

Read more about Chico & Alaide →

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 couples, families and groups of friends with hearty appetites.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: The vast portions of delicious comfort food at Bar do Arnaudo are ideal for sharing.

Lucy's expert tip: There's no wine list here, but bring along your vino of choice and staff will happily uncork it for you at no cost.

Read more about Bar do Arnaudo →

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 prepared and plated up with great care, too, and is a cut above the Tex Mex fare more commonly found in Rio. It's a small place with a colorful decor and an impressive attention to detail that extends from the artsy touches to the sleek presentation of the drinks and snacks. Grab a sidewalk table and watch the elegant locals glide by as you enjoy small eats and cocktails, or tuck into something more substantial - Prices are suprisingly fair for this upscale area.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: La Calaca offers top-notch Mexican food in a relaxed atmosphere.

Lucy's expert tip: Look out for special promotions such as 'Taco Tuesdays', with slashed prices on certain dishes and drinks.

Read more about La Calaca →

Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

This appealingly laid back bar at the heart of Santa Teresa's nightlife strip is a long-standing favorite among locals and visitors alike, with its late opening hours making it a top spot for end-of-the-night drinks. Prices are reasonable, the vibe is chatty and relaxed, and there's a good range of bar snacks to help soak up some of that fast-flowing beer. The black bean soup is a tasty option, while pizzas and portions of fried aipim (manioc) are also popular orders. Wednesday nights see live samba bands turn the place into a full-on party, while on weekends revellers spill out onto the streets, plastic cups in hand.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Santa Teresa's boho locals flock here for later-night drinking and dining.

Lucy's expert tip: Head to Simplesmente on a Sunday night to join the fun-loving crowd of locals who laugh in the face of the coming work week.

Read more about Simplesmente →

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.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: Gringo Cafe is a popular choice for social events amont Rio's ex-pat community, but attracts locals too.

Lucy's expert tip: This is one of very few places in Rio to serve Bloody Mary cocktails, and the ones here are very good.

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The first tapas bar to arrive in Rio is still considered to be the bestin town. Venga serves the traditional Spanish-style small eats in a relaxed atmosphere that lends itself perfectly to socializing over a jug of sangria. Spicy sausages, picante patatas bravas and delicious imported cheeses are among the tempting options here and are designed to be shared among the groups of fashionable young things that frequent the trendy spot. The hum of lively chatter is as intoxicating as the red wine punch, and you could easily find that 'a quick bite to eat' turns into a full-on night out.

Recommended for Group Friendly because: For delicious tapas and free flowing conversation, Venga is the place to come in Rio.

Lucy's expert tip: The bar encourages conversation and discourages e-communication. 'Enjoy the moment' is their mantra, so switch off your smartphone.

Read more about Venga →

Pavao Azul
Photo courtesy of Los Viajes del Cangrejo/Flickr

Much of Rio's liveliest drinking and dining centers around its informal, unpretentious 'botecos' (casual bars) and this unassuming hole-in-the-wall bar-restaurant is a great case in point. Serving award-winning bar snacks and ice cold beers to hungry locals for over half a century, Pavao Azul is the type of unpretentious establishment where sandy-shorted, flip-flop wearing visitors can fit right in. Reasonable prices and a location at the heart of Copacabana add to the appeal, and it's not unusual for live music to break out at weekends. There are some good mains here - including a delicious shrimp risotto - but the best way to eat is to grab a sidewalk table, beers and a few plates for sharing, and experience relaxed Carioca life at its best. Be warned - you might stay longer than you planned.

Lucy's expert tip: Come here on a sunny Sunday afternoon to see relaxed Rio life at its very best.

Read more about Pavao Azul →


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.