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From All-Your-Can-Eat Meat to Spectacular Salads: Top Lunch Spots in Rio



Lunch options in Rio de Janeiro cover all tastes and all pockets. Your lunch might be a quick bite on the hoof, a lavish sit down meal or a plate of fresh seafood in front of the ocean. It might cost next to nothing or be a real blow out - but as long as you know where to go, it should never be disappointing.

Sunbathing on Copacabana beach? There are countless beach kiosks to choose from, selling everything from full-on seafood feasts with Champagne, to simple plates of sardines or French fries.

Sightseeing downtown? Head to one of the abundant pay by weight buffet restaurants, where carnivores and veggies alike can take their pick from a staggering array of hot and cold dishes. Or for a glimpse of historic Rio, make a beeline for Confeitaria Colombo, where you can enjoy lavish spreads of sandwiches, cakes and hot or cold drinks in one of the city's oldest and most ornate eateries.

Should you be up in the hills of Santa Teresa, you'll be spoiled for choice - you can enjoy a delicious toasted sandwich and homemade ice cream at our number one pick Cafecito, tuck into hearty Northeastern meals at Bar do Arnaudo

Vegetarians - and carnivores taking a break from all those excellent Brazilian steaks - can find culinary solace at vegetarian havens such as the excellent Vegetariano Social Clube, in Leblon, while those with hearty appetites can enjoy a veritable meat feast at Porcao, one of Rio de Janeiro's most famous churrascarias (all-you-can-eat meat restaurants).

Whatever you choose to wash your lunch down with - a freshly squeezed juice, a strong coffee, a super-cold beer or even a tangy caipirinha cocktail, you'll raise no eyebrows - this is a  city where indulging all the senses is positively encouraged.


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A relatively recent addition to Rua Dias Ferreira's already-illustrious drinking and dining scene, the chic whitewashed space that is Brigite's has fast become part of the well-heeled establishment. The bistro-style dishes are as immaculately presented as the restaurant and its clientele, and light dishes such as the 'Salada Brigite's' - crisp mixed leaves topped with grilled squid, drizzled with passion fruit and garnished with a flower - are perfect for body conscious beach goers. The bar serves up a wonderful range of cocktails, too, many of which put colorful Brazilian fruits to good use - ask which fruits are in season if you want a

Recommended for Lunch because: This upscale Santa Teresa restaurant offers terrific views by day or by night

Lucy's expert tip: Brigite's is a good place to begin an evening's bar hopping in Leblon.

Read more about Brigite's →


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).

Read more about Bar e Restaurante URCA →


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.

Read more about Stuzzi →


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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 Lunch because: There are countless kiosks along Copacabana beach, selling food to suit all tastes and budgets.

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 →


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 take the weight of your feet and soak up the opulence during a Centro shopping or sightseeing spree. Head here for a quick espresso and a pastry at the stand up balcony or sit down and relax with a full breakfast spread complete with breads, coffee, cakes, jams, jellies, juices and fruit. Just don't forget your camera to capture the grandeur of the place.

Read more about Confeitaria Colombo →




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.

Recommended for Lunch because: Friendly staff, fair prices and generous portions on delicious food make this a long-standing local lunch favorite.

Lucy's expert tip: Call ahead to book tables if you want to sit outside - these seats are extremely popular on balmy evenings.

Read more about Aprazivel →


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.

Read more about Vegetariano Social Clube →




Your leisurely brunch comes with a refreshing sea breeze and stunning sea views at this al-fresco spot in the grounds of Copacabana Fort. Breakfast is served at several outdoor table and, while service can be a little on the slow side, who's in a rush when you've got a view over Copacabana beach and out to sea? The 'farmhouse breakfast' (R$29) features corn cake, coffee cheese, baskets of bread, fruit and the delicious Brazilian speciality that is pao de quejo - little rolls of manioc flour and cheese. Come here with time to spare and take your time just soaking up the view and enjoying the cooling breezes.

Recommended for Lunch because: The sea breezes and views across the beach make this a wonderful spot to enjoy a coffee - or cocktail - and a light lunch

Lucy's expert tip: Reward a walk along Copacabana's 4-mile sweep of sand with a drink and bite to eat here.

Read more about Cafe 18 do Forte →




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 set meal - including a soup, main, drink and healthy dessert, while the buffet also offers a staggering array of tempting healthy options - including colorful salads, wholegrain rice, lentils and beans in various incarnations, and even meat-free versions of classic Brazilian dishes such as feijoada. It's not entirely vegan - cheese and eggs get a look in, but there are plenty of vegan options.

Recommended for Lunch because: This is a great place for a lunch that won't blow the beach diet.

Lucy's expert tip: Restaurante Green is located in Rio's business district, and is a hit with lunching office workers. It's open for lunch only, and closed on Sundays

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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. T 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.

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 →


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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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