10 Best Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro's Lively Lapa Neighborhood

The famously lively Rio de Janeiro neighborhood of Lapa is best known for its buzzing bars, raucous street party and live music venues, but there's plenty here to keep foodies happy too.  Brazilians rarely drink on an empty stomach, so there's food to be found at the abundant bars of this downtown party district. Food is served right up until closing time at most bars in Lapa, and even nightclubs take their food seriously - samba institution Carioca da Gema has its own highly-regarded pizzaria, while Rio Scenarium - one of the best-known live music clubs in the city - serves full sit-down meals to be enjoyed before or after taking a spin around the dancefloor.

Even the famous Lapa Street Party - which bursts into noisy life around midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and the eve of public holidays - is as notable for its foodie offerings as its boozy ones. Hungry revellers tuck into giant X-Tudo (with everything) burgers and hotdogs, freshly made pizzas, delicious acaraje from northeastern Brazil, and barbequed hunks of cheese and meat.

By day, the neighborhood caters to a lunchtime crowd with several pay-by-weight buffet restaurants, several of which can be found on Rua do Lavradio, the historic street at the heart of Lapa, whose handsome colonial buildings have been transformed into cafes, bars, restaurants and - fittingly - antiques stores.

The name 'X Tudo' comes from the fact that Brazilians pronounce the English word 'cheese' as 'Sheesh', which is the phonetic sound for X in Portuguese. Hence, X Tudo means 'cheese with everything', and a X Tudo burger is basically a cheeseburger...  Read More

The down-town branch of Pampa Grill (the original branch, in Barra, has been in business some 30 years) is a popular choice among local business people, who head here for the excellent cuts of meat on offer, along with the vast range of hot and...  Read More

For a taste of Rio's Belle Epoque past, 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...  Read More

Along with the beaches, the Christ statue and Sugar Loaf mountain, another postcard-perfect image of Rio are the mammoth white arches that stand in city's historic center. At night, revelers gather below the arches as a huge street party...  Read More

Budget travelers can feast on all manner of treats at this good value downtown lunch restaurant that's a firm favorite with local office workers. The self-service buffet includes everything from sushi and rice noodles to hot meat, fish and...  Read More

Located in the historic heart of Lapa, this reformed colonial mansion home has received a colorful makeover with illuminated artworks on the brick walls, vibrantly-colored cocktails and an equally bright and breezy playlist. An eclectic musical...  Read More

Rua do Lavradio
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

Visitors looking for the historic heart of Rio won't find it by the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, but in the heart of downtown Lapa. Rua do Lavradio was one of the first streets to be built in Rio de Janeiro back in the 1770s, and its...  Read More

Nova Capela
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Omar Uran under a Creative Commons license

This traditional restaurant at the heart of Rio's party district opens until 4am every night of the week, and has been helping hard-partying Cariocas to soak up alcohol since the 1960s. But while the late hours and plum location are part of its...  Read More

The name translates as 'little bar', but this lively Lapa hangout packs a lot into its less than palatial layout. The name translates as 'little bar', but this lively Lapa hangout packs a lot into its less than palatial layout. The small plates...  Read More

Tuck into some of the best pizzas in town before dancing the night away at Carioca da Gema. Samba lovers of all ages flock to this downtown dance house, where the fleet of foot and supple of rump shimmy and shake around the dance floor. The...  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.