Fancy tapas bar with very good tapas (the octopus ones are highly recommended) in Leblon. Very crowded at peak times, so it is best to visit around noon or during the afternoon (between 3pm and 5pm).There is another outpost in Ipanema (Rua Garcia d’Ávila, 147B, 55 (21) 2512-9826).
A Bela Sintra
Considered one of the very best Portuguese restaurants in São Paulo, A Bela Sintra serves delicious traditional cuisine. Seafood in a specialty in the beautiful space, paneled with light-colored wood.
A Figueira Rubaiyat
Brazil was a Portuguese colony, and the heritage is especially present in the food. This traditional Portuguese restaurant in Copacabana specializes in salted codfish (bacalhau). Don’t miss deep-fried bolinhos de bacalhau (codfish fritters). As a main course, try the “Bacalhau à patuscada”, with garlic, broccoli, potatoes and black olives (serves two to three people, ask for a half portion for one). Finish off with the sweet and delicious pastel de nata, a pastry stuffed with delicious soft custard.
Standout Brazilian seafood dishes like like bobó de camarão (shrimp in manioc sauce) or moqueca (seafood stew) aren't ubiquitous in São's Paulo due to its inland location. But Chef Bella Masano, who now captains the kitchen at her family's outstanding classic seafooder, is the city's notable exception. Her gourmet takes on traditional seafood – especially anything with shrimp – are a revelation that will quickly make you forget the old school décor.
Perched on top of Santa Teresa, Rio’s Montmartre, Aprazível is known for its dramatic views. The food is OK – and it’s expensive, but even so the place is always packed. The best way to enjoy it is to come after lunch (the restaurant opens nonstop from lunch to dinner), order some appetizers and many caipirinhas, and enjoy the afternoon view in the bucolic setting.
With views of Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain in the distance, Assador is an authentic Brazilian steakhouse.
This great gastropub from the same owners of Bráz made a lot of noise when it opened in Ipanema across from the beach, after years of popularity in São Paulo. The ambiance is casual but hip, with a retro brasserie-style design. Ask for a chopp (draft beer) and order one of their Brazilian great main courses (like the picadinho, a classic beef stir fry with beans, rice and a fried egg). From the terrace, watch the idyllic sunset. Opens at 6pm on weekdays and at lunchtime on weekends.
Bacio di Latte
Offering the best ice cream in the city, Bacio di Latte churns out the creamy, light treat in an assortment of flavors.
Bar dos Descasados
This is a well-hidden gem in bohemian Santa Teresa. It’s the romantic bar & lounge of the Hotel Santa Teresa, with a huge terrace and an amazing view. One of the best spots in Rio to relax, have a cocktail, and enjoy the sunset.
Called only Londra by the locals, this is the trendy bar of the sophisticated Fasano hotel. Beautiful people, celebs and guests mingle in a classy pub-like ambiance, with top service, great music and expertly prepared cocktails. Next door is Fasano al Mare, with good seafood and steep prices.
Bazzar Bubble Bar
The twelve-seat counter is the place to be for tapas-cum-champagne in Rio. Actually, there’s an array of options by the glass, including a sample of Brazilian best sparkling wines, like Cave Geisse’s Terroir Nature and Miolo’s Millesime Brut. A selection of artisanal beers and interesting jerez are also available. The bar is part of the Bazzar group, an established brand in Rio, with a number of restaurants and a line of gourmet sauces and creamy deserts. The new Bubble Bar has it’s own menu of creative tapas (although it’s also possible to order from the main Bazzar menu) with options like Brazilian trio of cheeses and wagyu tartar on a single French fried potato slice. The ambiance is modern and trendy, and the location is dead-center in Ipanema. Open nonstop everyday, from lunch to dinner (early closure on Sunday).
This outstanding seafood spot is located in the fishing village of Guaratiba, just outside of Rio. Expect ultra-fresh fish and seafood prepared in a number of traditional ways—mostly baked or stewed with fresh herbs and seasonings—to be enjoyed in a rustic and authentic environment.
Brasil a gosto
This charming restaurant serves authentic, flavorful Brazilian cuisine from a changing seasonal menu. The dining rooms are comfortable and colorful and filter in plenty of natural light in the indoor garden.
Bráz is the perfect pizza place: a cantina-like ambiance, fun and trendy, with tasty and perfectly made pizzas. Ingredients are first class, many of them Italian. No wonder it always receives accolades from local magazines. Pizzas are neapolitan-style. Best sellers include the caprese, with tomato, italian mozzarella and giant basil leaves, and the provençale, with eggplant, zucchini, and a touch of garlic. Come prepared for the long lines, specially on weekends. Closed Monday, dinner only.
Café do Alto
Anyone visiting Rio should jump on a cab and drive up to Santa Teresa, the bohemian neighborhood par excellence, with dramatic views and lots of character. A nice option for some local flavors is Café do Alto, specialized in food from the Northeast of Brazil (Bahia and further North). Breakfast, served buffet-style on weekends and holidays, is a great way to try specialties like tapioca pancakes with fillings like curdled cheese and honey or shredded sun-dried meat, and delicious cake Souza Leao, with manioc flour, coconut milk and eggs. The place is laid back and no frills, but charming like its neighbors. Closed Monday.
This is Rio: a restaurant which carries only organic food, served buffet-style (called “por quilo” because the plates are weighed and charged by the kilo), on the expensive side, and adored by all cariocas. It’s always an amazing and fun variety, salads being their specialty—currently they offer about 40 different ones. Desserts are to die for.
This trendy neighborhood spot is a must-stop for coffee aficionados. The owner, Isabel Raposeiras, roasts her own beans on premises.
For a particularly proper high tea (and coffee), visit the centuries-old Downtown location on Rua Goncalves Dias. For a spectacular view, try the outpost at Forte de Copacabana (Forte de Copacabana; 55 (21) 3201-4049), which feels like it’s in the middle of the ocean.
After a five-year stint in Europe, chef Alex Atala returned to São Paulo in 1999 with a mission to change the way Latin America eats. His restaurant, D.O.M., is now regarded as the best restaurant in South America, and is known for the nouveau-Brazilian cuisine that has seen a resurgence in recent years. Blending European cooking techniques with Brazilian flavors, Atala has successfully changed the São Paulo culinary landscape, pushing chefs towards more sustainable, local ingredients that benefit the regional community.
For sheer ambiance, nothing surpasses this lovely bistro, inside an early-20th-century mansion in Parque Lage. Walls of green, orchids and hummingbirds provide the scenery, and chef Adriana’s pão de mel (honey cake) the gustatory ecstasy.
Da Casa da Táta
This small and homey place is perfect to try some Brazilian delicacies, like homemade cakes of carrot or cornmeal (in Portuguese, fubá, pronounced “foo-bah”), and different breads, like the ubiquitous pão de queijo (or cheese bread, a kind of cheese bun that is the official Brazilian snack). Try also pamonha, a sweet and creamy corn cake, and brigadeiro, the Brazilian version of the chocolate truffle, soft and sweet and chewy and enrobed in chocolate sprinkles – totally addictive! Open nonstop everyday (early closure on Saturdays and Sundays).
Tip: for the best gourmet brigadeiro, order two days in advance at Sweet Dreams (www.sweetdreams.com.br) and ask for the brigadeiro box to be delivered to your hotel.
Dalva e Dito
A more casual expression of Brazilian cuisine from the owners of D.O.M., Dalva e Dito specializes on the country’s traditional dishes, using only the freshest ingredients. The interiors are sophisticated yet whimsical with colorful tiles, high ceilings and oversized wall décor.
Dia Ferreira Street
This street concentrates a number of good bars and restaurants and is a great option for both lunch and dinner. Some options include: Pipo, CT Boucherie, ¡Venga!, Zuka, Brigite’s, Bottega del Vino and Chico & Alaíde.
Casual yet refined, Due Cuochi is the go-to spot in Italian-heavy São Paulo for motherland comfort food. The kitchen changes menus frequently, but the black truffled egg yolk ravioli is a signature dish. Simple, fresh ingredients are the rule: the bavete with shrimp and calamari, for example, boasts nothing more beyond tomato and basil—and it's beautiful. You won't find better Italian for the price.
Note: The restaurant has several outposts in São Paulo.
Fasano Pool Bar
The eighth floor rooftop pool bar is only accessible to Fasano hotel guests and their friends but it is one of the best spots in the city to enjoy cocktails. The views of the beach and the city are fabulous and so are the people watching and cocktails. Light snacks and sandwiches are served throughout the day so you can spend the day by the pool or linger after dark.