The Best Local Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro
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The Best Local Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro

6 min read

Jul 18, 2012


By Juergen Keller

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Last updated on November 11th, 2020 at 03:49 am

Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro

This article is about the best restaurants in Rio de Janeiro, while on a Rio Brazil tour. The best local Rio de Janeiro restaurants are not the 5 star, sophisticated waterfront restaurants, serving a long list of wines you’ve never heard of. Many of these focus too much on presentation rather than on quality for the dollar (or real).

Additionally, you won’t find too many local Cariocas in these types of restaurants. The best Rio de Janeiro restaurants are very hard to find if you are looking to eat like a local. Cariocas, as Rio de Janeiro residents are called, do not have a very sophisticated taste, some say. They prefer small, local restaurants serving  simple carioca-style dishes, where regular patrons are greeted like old friends and the chefs and waiters call them “amigos da casa.”

The best local Rio de Janeiro restaurants have humble storefronts, a few tables overlooking the sea, and local Cariocas enjoying dinner out on the town. Many locals like to dine out for dinner, and they often go to the same place each time. So just look for the hotspots where the locals are – it’s a good sign that the food is excellent.

Read below for the list of the restaurants in Rio de Janeiro you should dine in on a Brazil tour.

Amarelinho Bar & Restaurant

typical small dishes of Rio

In the Amarelinho Bar & Restaurant, located next to the National Library in the central district, serves simple plates like rodizio, mixed grill, and pizza.

The Bar & Restaurant Urca, the hidden gem of Rio de Janeiro Restaurants

cocktails at Urca

The Bar & Restaurant Urca is adjacent to the seawall on the Botafogo Bay, and diners can enjoy a good beer, seafood plate, and view of the Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado mountain. Try the shrimp bobo (spiced manioc with shrimp).

For more great restaurant recommendations, view the best seafood cities in South America.

Churrascaria Palace, the classic Rio de Janeiro restaurant for local families

steak cuts at the Churrascaria Palace

One of the oldest and best steakhouses in the city, located at Copacabana, Churrascaria Palace provides a memorable gastronomic experience. Listening to the sound of Bossa Nova, you will experience a barbecue of the highest quality in a beautiful setting inspired by Art Decó! The service is excellent, and most waiters speak English!

At Palace BBQ you’ll experience the “Rodizio”, where the different cuts are brought to your table on an all-you-can-eat Brazilian style.

At the entrance, you’ll find a charming bar, and a good choice to start with is the drink “Morena Tropicana”, with an infusion of local mate, passion fruit, lemon, coconut water, and cachaça, Brazil’s national rum made of Sugar cane – very refreshing!

The house drinks are designed in a way that can express the national culture, and Brazilian ingredients are always present in the creations. The wine list offers good options by the glass.

The rich buffet includes salads, bread, cheeses, Japanese food, fresh oysters, and hot dishes. It is really well served and varied.

Before starting the carvery, the waiter will give you the list of all the meat options, so you can indicate which ones are your favorites so that they reach you with certainty. That’s because there are many options, around 30 varieties in the carvery such as a prime rib, shoulder steak, ancho steak, chorizo, and Palace’s exclusive cut, created in the 80s, the “Butterfly Steak” – which has a double layer of fat, making the meat tastier!

Other popular cuts are lamb chops, prepared with bone, and seafood served on plates. There are also some special festivals, such as lobster, exotic meats, and Amazonian fish.

Galeto Sat’s

Galeto Sat's food

This chicken lovers’ restaurant is a must, where locals get together over plates of crisp-roasted “baby chicken” as well as seasoned chicken hearts, garlic bread, and the essential eggs farofa.

As a suggestion, you can ask for a drumstick fillet that sleeps in cachaça tanned in barrels of Jequitibá, and it is fragrant and tasty.

Cervantes, the traditional of Rio de Janeiro restaurants

Cervantes assortment of local dishes

Cervantes is a classic bar and restaurant in Copacabana, and in 2012 it was declared cultural heritage of the city.

In addition to the cold draft beer, the flagship of Cervantes is the pork sandwich, prepared with milk bread. It can be filled with other types of meat too. However, every sandwich made there comes with an unusual ingredient: a slice of pineapple!

You can order the sandwich without the pineapple, but unless you have a real aversion to fruit with food, don’t take the pineapple off your sandwich. It’s worth a try.

Marius Degustare

restaurant in rio de janeiro interior

Marius Degustare is located beachfront, between Leme and Copacabana offering a sophisticated selection of meat, fish, and seafood, in a charming, exotic, and fun environment.

Decorated, with a multitude of marine objects hanging from the ceiling, pictures on the walls, medieval-style doors – all very different and striking.

As for the menu, Marius serves as a carvery for steaks, crustaceans, and fish. All served at will at the customer’s table and there is also a varied buffet with salads and hot dishes – all very well prepared. The variety of meats is wide and includes prime cuts, as well as shrimp and lobsters.

Marius Degustare was mentioned in the bestseller “1000 Places to Know Before You Die”, by Patricia Shultz. More than a restaurant, it’s an experience!

Food in Brazil

man cutting steak cuts at bbq

The thing that really makes these restaurants in Rio de Janeiro is the popular food in Brazil. One type of Rio Brazil food that you shouldn’t miss (unless you’re vegetarian, that is!) is the churrascaria de rodízio, also called an all-you-can-eat barbecue. This typical carioca-style meal is a grilled meat-lovers dream come true.

You should also try feijoada, a soup made of black beans and pork or beef if you are in town on Saturday. This Portuguese meal is slow-cooked in clay pots and served usually just once a week. Pair it with a cold chopp, the local draft beer, or a caipirinha, the sweet Brazilian rum & lime cocktail.

The best Rio restaurant you find easily for yourself. Just trust yourself and you will find an excellent restaurant in Rio, just like the Cariocas do. Stroll by the restaurant, and browse the menu outside of the place. Have a look inside, talk to a waiter, and ask what they recommend to eat. Choose a seat with a view of the sea and the sunset over the beach. If you spend enough time in Rio de Janeiro, you may find yourself coming back to the same seaside table, and ordering from the same friendly waiter.
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Last updated on November 11th, 2020 at 03:49 am

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