Are you looking for the best Rio de Janeiro lunch spot? All of the city’s best finds tend to be in unsigned buildings, out of guide books and only in the mouths of ‘Cariocas’. I have lived in Rio for years, but it wasn’t until I learned the sub context of this language, this culture, and their dining habits did I really start to experience the real Brazilian life…. So if you have already hit Ipanema beach and are in the mood for a venture into the real Rio, here is a list of my top 5 hidden gems for a Rio de Janeiro lunch that is fresh, bright in flavor and pairs perfectly with an afternoon beverage.
—01 Lá em Cima @ Dona Coisa – R. Lopes Quintas, 153 (Neighborhood: Jardim BoTÂnico
Ambiance: a moment of inspiration
Hidden on the 2nd floor of one of Jardim Botânico’s most unique boutiques, Dona Coisa, is a space that blends the visuals of an art gallery, the feel of a tropical tea house and the elegance of a French Café. The best spot? At a table at the front of the space, adjacent to large Colonial windows that open up, exhibiting the flora and fauna that the nighborhood is famous for. Open only for breakfast and lunch, Lá em Cima offers a blend of Brazilian and European classics with a sprinkling or original delights, such as cardamom cheesecake and Gruyère clouds.
So what’s on the Rio de Janeiro lunch menu? Tasty pasta and sandwiches, like the roast beef on ciabatta bread; the cheese bread with curd stuffying and truffle is a must! Now, if you want to get close to gourmet paradise try the sweets, specialties include Eloi Nascimento, and the Theodoro Cake! Vera Balteiro makes the Violet Flower pie, a combination of cream cheese, candied flowers and violet extract, an unusual delight.
—02 LA CARIOCA @ Rua Garcia D’Avila (NEIGHBORHOOD: JARDIM BOTÂNICO & Ipanema)
Ambience: Latin American Passion
La Carioca is the first cevicheria of Rio de Janeiro, which opened its doors in November 2011, in the Jardim Botânico. In 2013, La Carioca inaugurated its second restaurant in Ipanema.
La Carioca is your spot for a mid afternoon line-up of Peruvian ceviche (think leite de tigre) and several cold Pisco Sours. I describe this gem on the corner of a small pebbled Ipanema sidewalk with all outside tables, as pure fun! All elements remind you that you are in South America: the salsa music playing, the beautiful people passing by in bright colorful clothes and the rich salt smell of the sea in the air. Known for its ceviche, we highly recommend ordering a small handful of different takes on this classic and don’t forget to add the homemade banana chips!
—03 Bazaar Café @ Livraria da Travessa – R. Visc. de Pirajá, 572 (Neighborhood: Ipanema)
You would never know it was there, simply passing by the storefront of this famous Rio bookstore. On the 2nd floor of this bustling shop is a café from the well known Ipanema Restaurant, Bazaar. The look is sleek, the feel is intellectual yet modern, the food is an assortment of classical yet trendy international dishes from Falafel to Burgers, Lemon Tarts to Cappuccinos. You will equally be fulfilled sitting there alone with your new book and a Caldo de Feijoada as you would with the new friend you met at the museum this morning who is tickled to share an afternoon bottle of Sauvignon with you.
—04 BAR ASTOR @ Av. Vieira Souto, 110 (Neighborhood: Ipanema)
Ambience: a taste of São Paulo in Ipanema
If Manhattan, São Paulo and Ipanema had a baby, Bar Astor would be her name. One of the few restaurants with an ocean view, Bar Astor is always electric. Any time of the day, you will find atmosphere in this hip little restaurant right in front of Posto 8 at the beginning of Ipanema Beach. They have one of the few NY style bars where you can actually sit at the counter, with a large lit up colorful bar that will surely add that tropical feeling to your already balmy afternoon. You can either grab a stool, a plate of oysters and a glass of champagne, or pull up a seat at an outside table for a chopp (a pint) of beer and a steak tartare. If there is an ounce of room still left = Rio de Janeiro lunch recommendation: the Brioche Bread Pudding.
—05 SANTA SATISFAÇão @ Rua Santa Clara, 36 Loja C (COPACABANA) & Av. Ataulfo de Paiva, 1335 (Leblon)
Ambiance: Romantic Bistro-style
This quaint bistro, with locations in both Leblon and Copacabana, is known for its provencal-style décor with patina-inspired furniture and it’s delicious menu. For starters, the kitchen has a wide variety of salads and pastas, plus about five daily suggestions for lunch and diner (think menu of the day-type suggestions), which includes red meat, chicken, fish and risotto. The omelets deserves particular attention as it includes fillings that range from the basics (chesse and ham) to smoke salmon and cheese – but that’s not all! Each omelet is accompanied with a beautiful edible basket made with Parmesan cheese, which houses a mix of green leaves and cherry tomatoes.
Make sure to ask for their fidelity card – for every ten a la carte meals consumed in the restaurant or by the delivery service within 3 conserutive months, you can earn a small portion of the pasta or salad of your choice.
—06 Plage Café @ parge Lage – R. Jardim Botânico, 414 (NEIGHBORHOOD: parque lage)
Ambience: Classic Rio
Situated at the base of Christ the Redeemer, in one of the last untouched parts of the Rio rainforest, Plage Café is located inside of an old sugar mill turned aristocratic mansion turned art school. This picturesque setting is ideal for everything from brunch to late afternoon coffee. All seating is outside in the inner courtyard, situated around a beautiful pool (made famous in Snoop Dog’s Beautiful music video). This french-style café offers a large variety to appease any palate, from Salade Nicoise to Roast Chicken. The structure itself is stunning, but add to it a glass of Chilean red and a plate of bruschetta and you have the formula of an afternoon of memories.
—07 Café 18 Do forte @ forte de copacabana (NEIGHBORHOOD: COPACABA)
Ambiance: relaxed sophistication
Most people come to Forte de Copacabana to eat a carioca-style, Rio de Janeiro lunch at the famous Café Confeiteria, however waiting times can test the most patient person. Just a stones throw away is the Café 18 do Forte where visitors can enjoy the same pictersque views while enjoying mouth-watering delicious food all the while avoiding the queue.
Here you find the perfect setting to make your Rio de Janeiro lunch even more special. Besides the traditional sweets, their menu offers an assortment of salads, sandwiches, pastas and some Brazilian favourites like feijoada and moqueca. Along with offering breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, Café 18 do Forte also offers a special à la carte lunch menu. Our recommendation? Cool off with a glass of champagne paired with a churros do forte.
The entrance into the Forte de Copacabana is R$6 and is 50% off if you present a valid student card.
Casa Bromelia is a space where is a Rio de Janeiro Travel Concierge. We are your “access” to the city. We speak your language, know your culture & understand your expectations. Whether that be dancing at underground Samba party, staying in a classic art deco villa, being picked up by an English speaking driver or advice on where a local dines, the Casa will tailor design your dream vacation. The founder, Lauren Amber Quinn, is a California native who has been traveling/living abroad for 15 years. She leads the team of locals curating your trip. With Casa Bromelia you will share, explore, heal, relax and be inspired
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