Top Spots for Late-Night Eats in Rio de Janeiro



Rio de Janeiro is a food-focused city, and night owls can easily sate their appetite no matter what time hunger strikes. Rio locals don't like to drink on an empty stomach, so where there's alcohol, there's usually food too.

Rio's bohemian botecos (relaxed bar-restaurants) are among the culinary high points of the city. Some fine examples of the genre are Leblon's Jobi and Santa Teresa's Simplesmente, both of which offer tasty food and drinks until the wee small hours. Rio's street party scene is another great bet for late night eating options, and the legendary weekend gathering by the Arcos da Lapa sees all manner of stalls offering goodies that range from Bahian acaraje to wood-fired pizzas and generously-topped hotdogs and burgers. It's a little more difficult to find formal dining in Rio after midnight, but smart bars such as Stuzzi, in Leblon and Leviano, in Lapa, serve sophisticated nibbles and finger foods until well past the witching hour.

Copacabana Beach is a top spot for all-hours eating, too - many of the kiosks that line the legendary beach are open virtually 24/7. Whether it's an afternoon snack or a late-night pitstop, it's hard to beat the ocean backdrop for that ultimate 'I'm in Rio' dining experience. 



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Given its abundant supply of coffee beans, Brazil has been surprisingly slow to pick up on the coffee bar trend, but Cafeina is one spot where caffeine boosts are more inventive than simply with-or-without-milk. Alongside a range of cappuccinos, lattes and espressos, there are some seriously tasty cakes, pastries and other goodies that make wonderfully indulgent companions to a creamy coffee. Sandwiches here are good lunch options, and the place also serves lavish breakfasts and afternoon teas. Cafeina is a good place to linger over a coffee, while those who are pressed for time can order their food and drinks to go.


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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.


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Copacabana Beach
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


 

Copacabana beach is lined with bars and restaurants that range from super-simple kiosks with plastic tables and chairs to sleek and chic glass kiosks serving upscale food and drink. There are options to suit every taste and wallet, and many are open almost 24/7. 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.


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With a prime location on the main drinking and dining strip in leafy, artsy Santa Teresa, Bar do Mineiro is the focal point for the neighborhood's famously lively social scene. As the name suggests, the menu bears the culinary influences of the owner, a 'Mineiro' (native of Minas Gerais) who over the years has built up a loyal fanbase drawn to his hearty plates of meaty dishes, such as traditional Minas sausages served with butter-cooked 'aipim' (cassava). For a lighter snack, the portions of 'pasteis' (small, deepfried pastries filled with cheese, meat, beans or shrimp) are widely considered to be among the best in the city. But it's the lively atmosphere that is the real draw here, with locals and visitors gathering here to eat, drink and chat well into the night.


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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 menu takes in electro-heavy club nights, more gentile jazz-fests and live samba sessions, and downstairs dancefloors are packed well into the small hours almost every night of the week. A mezzanine balcony provides ample space for sipping drinks and chatting - should you be able to make yourself heard over the pumping music. Alongside an extensive cocktail list, some tempting finger food. Groups of friends may want to opt for the mixed platter, which includes tasty finger foods such as rosemary and garlic breadsticks, focaccia, sundried tomato paste and little oven-baked pastries.


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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.


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The Devassa chain brews its own beers in a range of flavors and alcohol strengths, and while their marketing is playful, they take their brewing seriously. Here you might want to try a malt beer or a --loira--(blonde) beer, which are served ice cold by draught. The food is good too - try the pizzas made with a manioc flour base - and the lively, relaxed spot makes this a great place to begin a night out in Rio. Pitchers of beer and plates of light finger food for sharing have made Devassa a byword for sociable dining in Rio.


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Simplesmente
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson


 

This appealingly laidback 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.


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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 unfurls - head here on a Friday night to see Rio's party spirit at its liveliest. The area around the arches is taken over by hundreds of stalls selling all manner of tempting treats to eat and drink, from fresh-baked pizzas and beers to Northeastern acaraje and fruity-but-potent cocktails. Surrounded by bars and clubs pumping out everything from hip hop and favela funk to samba and pagode, the Arcos da Lapa are the starting point for many a memorable night out in Rio.


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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.


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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.

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