Indian food is hard to come by in Rio, so this this little lunch spot downtown is a welcome addition to the city's gastronomic scene. The dishes are less than authentically 'Indian' - there's a vegan version of the classic Brazilian dish feijoda on offer each week - but are Indian-inspired. Each day there are two set menus - at least one of which is usually vegan - comprising a small starter and main, and a choice of hot and cold Indian teas. The first floor restaurant is reached via a stairwell strewn with rose petals, and on entering, a waft of incense alerts you to the fact that this is not your standard Brazilian restaurant. Sitar music (sometimes live) adds to the 'Indian' theme, and veggies and vegans will appreciate the opportunity to tuck in with gusto. Portions are large, and prices are reasonable.
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.
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.
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.
For a taste of Rio's Belle Epoque past, head to this historic cafe-restaurant in downtown Rio. The vast space is divided into areas for standup snacks, light lunches and full-on feasts, and the clientele is a mix of local worker and photo-snapping visitors. 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. If you're pressed for time, go for an espresso and savory pastry at the stand-up snack bar near the entrance.
Rio is synonymous with samba, and the city's historical downtown district of Lapa should be the first port of call for anybody looking to hear the real thing played live. At Rio Scenarium, the kooky factor is ramped up to 11 thanks to the fact that this vast venue for samba shows is also a storage space for antiques and film props, so fascinating costumes, masks and other historical artefacts form the backdrop to the dancing, eating and drinking. Even if you have two left feet it is worth a visit here just to see the highy skilled locals show how samba dancing should be done, and there's a restaurant serving sit-down meals for those who just want to take in the show.
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 cold side dishes that tempt diners to the heaving buffet bar. Pampa Grill operates two dining systems - you can choose to pay by weight (around R$6 per 100 grams) or you can pay a set price of R$90 for all-you-can-eat feasts. Whichever you opt for, you are guaranteed a memorable culinary experience, with the opportunity to feast on top quality cuts of meat, fresh fish and seafood, and fresh tropical fruits and vegetables in more variations than one could ever imagine.
This inviting Italian restaurant in the pleasant residential neighborhood of Tijuca is within walking distance of Rio's Maracana soccer stadium, and offers a good wine list as well as tempting flavors from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. A member of the Bologna-based Accademia Gastronomica Italiana, the restaurant takes its food and drink seriously, with specialities that include fresh handmade egg pasta in the form of delicious tagliatelle, garganelle and tortellini, among others. A leafy garden makes for pleasant al-fresco dining. Pizzas served fresh from a wood-fired ovens are another good bet, and the desserts - including a wonderfully rich mascarpone and red fruit tart - will tempt a sweet tooth.
Easy to miss but well worth seeking out, this artsy cultural hub is where cool kids come to mingle, dance and share ice cold bottles of beer. With an art gallery, outside terrace and regular themed music/arts nights, Comuna has a studiously casual hipster aesthetic, and an impressive array of arts events. It'a also solid on the food front, and is known as the place to come for seriously good burgers - local food and drink magazines rate it as the best in town, and Comuna's customers tend to agree. Get here early in the evening if you want to sample them for yourself - after 11pm things get too packed for comfortable eating.
Art and architecture buffs checking out the exhibits at Rio's downtown modern art museum (MAM) should be sure to find time for this outstanding lunch restaurant. Under talented young chef Elia Schramm, the restaurant is one of just three Michelin-starred restaurants in Rio, and has a fabulous wine list as well as artfully-presented French-Brazilian fusion cuisine, with some truly delicious desserts that put Rio's abundant fresh tropical fruits to excellent use. The location is a little off Rio's main tourist trail, but it's worth it for the food alone, and the museum is well worth checking out, too, especially on those occasions when the famous Rio sunshine fails to appear.