“It’s easy to see why Rio is one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere,” Andrew Zimmern states. “It’s a city that moves you. To a Brazilian ‘carioca,’ life is meant to be savored. It’s why the 6 million residents of Rio call it ‘Cidade Maravilhosa' – once you visit, you’re guaranteed to come back.”
Zimmern shares a few fun and tasty local food experiences for travelers heading to Rio this summer:
VISIT THE CADEG MARKET
The large CADEG market is filled with hundreds of vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, seafood, flowers and spices. Within the four-story warehouse you’ll find Cantinho das Concertinas, which serves the best bacalhau (salt cod) fritters and octopus rice in Rio. At the food stalls, sample queijo-de-minas frescal, a traditional Brazilian soft cheese, or a popular dessert known as “Romeo and Juliet” – cheese with goiabada (guava paste). The place is full from dawn to dusk, but it’s worth battling the crowds. Head there on Saturday for the added bonus of live Portuguese music.
HIT THE SAND AND STAY – BEACH SNACKS ARE SERVED TOWELSIDE!
Locals know some of the best food can be found right on the beach, where street vendors are ready to serve you surfside. At Copacabana Beach, there’s nothing food-wise that can’t be found, from shrimp skewers to grilled Brazilian cheeses. After playing a game of footvolley – a combination of beach volleyball and soccer – grab some esfiha, a popular local snack of seasoned flatbread stuffed with cheese, meat or other fillings.
TRY IT ALL AT BOTECO BELMONTE
After a day in the sun at the Copacabana Beach, go to Boteco Belmonte for octopus salad or a bowl of insanely delicious bean soup with smoked sausage and chicharrones. It’s a fun spot and with a variety of small plates to choose from, it’s a great way to sample a variety of local flavors. The lively restaurant is always packed, but the service is quick with plenty of attentive staff.
SIP AN EXOTIC SMOOTHIE
Fresh fruit abounds in Brazil, and juice shops can be found on nearly every corner in Rio. These local shops carry a variety of Amazonian and local fruits that many in the Northern Hemisphere have never heard of. Try a fresh acai bowl or order a smoothie with maracuja (passion fruit) or cupuacu (a cousin of the cacao plant).
DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT HAVING FEIJOADA
Feijoada is the national dish of Brazil, a stew made with beans and a variety of pork cuts served with rice. It’s delicious in that “home-cooked meal” kind of way. The best feijoada comes from locals’ kitchens who have been making it for years. But if you can’t find someone to cook for you, ask locals to point you to a good spot – you can’t leave Rio without trying it!
EMBRACE YOUR INNER CARNIVORE AT A CHURRASCARIA
A visit to Rio de Janeiro is incomplete without eating at a churrascaria, Brazil’s version of a steakhouse. At Estrela do Sul, the oldest and one of the best churrascarias in the city, you’ll find a ‘50s vibe and unbeatable food. It’s a meat-lovers paradise, with waiters circling the restaurant serving up a variety of cuts for an all-you-can-eat feast. Every cut of meat is cooked to perfection, and it truly tastes different here than anywhere else. While you’re there, try the picanha – a Brazilian cut of beef from the rump cap.
LATE NIGHT EATS NEVER TASTED SO GOOD
A century-old restaurant in the heart of Lapa, Nova Capela is an institution in Rio, serving traditional Portuguese fare to bohemian party-goers until the wee hours of the morning. Fill up on cabrito (goat), codfish balls or pickled tongue, along with ice cold chope (draft beer) before heading out to the clubs.
SUNSETS AND SNACKS AT PRAINHA BEACH
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city center, head southwest to Prainha Beach. After a day in the surf, the fresh fish stewed in coconut milk at Bira de Guaratiba is exactly what you need. Take in the sunset from the large thatch-roofed deck overlooking the estuary.
TRY THESE DOGS
Cachorro quente (hot dogs) stands are ubiquitous in Rio, and while most are mediocre at best, Cachorro Quente da Tia is worth seeking out. Tia uses quality pork shank and chicken dogs, with simple but well prepared toppings like potato straws, tomatoes, thinly sliced onions and her famed secret sauce. Be prepared for a long line of regulars.
DINE WITH A VIEW AT BAR URCA
While the food is great, you go to Bar Urca for its waterfront location and the unbeatable postcard view of Christ the Redeemer. Grab a seat by the window and order one of their seafood specialties such as shrimp bobo, grilled octopus with rice or mixed seafood stew.
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