Just back from 12 days in Rio de Janeiro where we were visiting a friend and her family in the “Copanema” area.
Since we were staying at their place we had a lot of home-cooked Brazilian food, but we also went out for food and drinks.
Here’s a rundown of the places we went.
- Manoel & Joaquim (http://www.manoelejuaquim.com.br ) – Being from the States, we are often in search of head-on shrimp. We ordered the garlic shrimp here and were not disappointed. We liked it so much, we went back a few days later for another plate.
- Emporio (Rua Maria Quitéria , 37) A late night bar featuring rock music DJs, worth mentioning for a tasty little drink called a Coco-Loco (cocoanut and cachaca).
Avoid if you don’t want to meet other tourists.
- Fiorentina (Av Atlântica 458A) After walking the length of Copacabana, stopping at a few kiosks for chopps along the way, we ran to Fiorentina when rain threatened. We shared a delicious shrimp & cheese pizza (their specialty is pizza) and drank some good Italian wine while watching a video crew film a story about the bossa nova history of the restaurant. A bit expensive for what we had, but very good.
- Bar Jobi (Av. Ataulfo de Paiva 1166) Rain again forced us inside, but we were happy to be close to Bar Jobi since it was on our list of places to eat.
Since it was after lunch, the place was nearly empty but we ordered some garlic chicken and chopps. The chicken was served in bone-in chunks and was absolutely
the right choice for a finger food snack. We stayed for another round and watched an ever-growing crowd of older bohemian men eat and drink with abandon.
When we returned a week later for dinner, it was so crowded that the people waiting on the sidewalk equalled the number of people seated inside.
Disappointed, we went to Venga! instead.
- Venga! (R. Dias Ferreira, 113B) Our friend had wanted to try this Spanish tapas bar since it opened a few months ago. Our first impression was "trendy and expensive", but when the sangria and tapas arrived we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of both. For authenticity, they have plates of jamon serrano and iberico as well as manchego cheese. Other dishes were not so authentic (mostly due to substituting local Brazilian ingredients)
but very tasty anyway. Order any dish with octopus or fried serrano "bacon bits" and you will not be disappointed. The service was the best we had in Rio (ask for Fabricia)and the atmosphere was friendly and lively. We liked it so much we went back after being turned away at Jobi.
- Bar Bofetada (Rua Farme de Amoedo 87) Better known as a lesbian bar at night, during the day it is a laid-back cafe. Once again, we needed a place to wait out the rain and ducked in at the tail end of the lunch buffet. Not hungry enough for the buffet, we asked for black beans and rice for 2, even though we were 3. We wound up with enough yummy food to bring home for a late night snack.
- Bar Arpoador (on Rua Joaquim Nabuco) If you want a big breakfast of steak, beans and french fries, this is as good a place as any, as evidenced by the number of cab drivers and cops who eat here. However, they also have a Tower of Beer. Our friend's sister invited us to experience this instrument of inebriation on a Friday night when it seemed like the thing to do since there was one at every table. Its basically a large clear funnel of beer with a tap at the bottom for refilling your chopp glass. Not sure how much was in there, but it took four of us 90 minutes to finish it. We did not return for a repeat performance, but it was kinda fun.
- Amir (Rua Ronald de Carvalho, 55) Our host's mother treated us to a dinner of Lebanese cuisine at Amir. Along with the sides of hummus, tabouli and baba ganoush we had various kaftas and probably the best shwarma I've ever eaten anywhere. Moderatley priced, clean and great atmosphere.
- Koni (seemingly everywhere) - A fast food sushi chain where they make the poor waitstaff wear ugly uniforms and orange crocs (apologies to Mario Batali).
The tuna roll I had was okay. Just a quick snack while shopping.
- Arab da Lagoa (Avenida Borges de Madeiros, kiosk 7) After a long hike along the Lagoa perimeter we settled on dinner at the Arab kiosk for a mixed plate including a mixed plate of kibbis, stuffed pastries as well as hummus, etc. Food was very good but the scenery and people-watching were excellent.
- Turkuaz (Rua Joaquim Nabuco 127) More Middle Eastern cuisine (remember we were eating a lot of home cooking), but very clean, friendly and inexpensive.
Lunch of kebabs, sides and drinks came to less than R$10 per person. It has only been open for a few months but they really seem to have their act together.
- Niteroi Fish Market - Took the ferry to Niteroi and went straight to the market to marvel at the array of seafood on display on the ground floor. Up to the 2nd floor for a resturant overlooking the sewage treatment plant. Undeterred, we ordered shrimp stew (bobos), sardines and shrimp (both fried). We were enjoying the meal when we suddenly realized that we could have bought anything we wanted at the market and had the restaurant cook it for us cheaper (and fresher) than just ordering off the menu. D'oh! Oh well, live and learn. The bobos was very good though.
- Bar Monaco (Copacabana) After catching a band at the club Drinkeria Maldita, we stumbled to Bar Monaco for some late night bites. If memory serves, we had shrimp, mussels and quail eggs. Monaco has all of its dishes ondisplay and you can just point to what you want. Apparently it is very popular but we were there just before closing and it was pretty well deserted. I can't find the receipt, but recall it was very reasonable.
- Pigalle Restaurante e Pizzaria (Av. Atlantica 4206) - Went here for old time's sake (some good memories from 16 years ago) and porradinhas.
A porradinha is a drink of cachaca and guarana in a chopp glass. You put your hand over the top, shake vigorously and then drink quickly.
Like the Tower of Beer, fun but only once. We're not as young as we used to be.
- Colonia dos Pescadores - Not a restaurant but a fish market for the freshest seafood. We shopped there for squid(with ink) and shrimp for a black rice "paella" we made at home that evening. Very good quality at low prices. I wish I had a seafood market like this where I live. And if you are interested in people watching, the Copacabana lifeguard stationhouse is right behind the store and offers plenty to look at while you are waiting for your fish to be cleaned.
That concludes my Rio report. Please let me know what you think since this is the first time I've attempted such a long post (its exhausting). Hopefully I've
provided some guidance and amusement for natives and travellers alike.