One of the reasons we were so drawn to visiting Brazil was the wide variety of food there was to try.
Here are our favourite traditional Brazilian Food you simply must try in Rio De Janeiro.
If you love checking out traditional foods you might also like to see our other foodie posts including:
Before you visit Brazil you might also like to try one of our traditional Brazilian food recipes to get your taste buds ready for a foodie coma.
Traditional Brazilian Food You Must Try in Rio De Janeiro
With so many interesting and delicious food options it’s hard to know what to eat in Rio de Janeiro.
From delicious Brazilian BBQ to local Rio delicacies you may not have tried before, we give an overview of some must-eat food in Rio!
One of the very best traditional Brazilian foods is our favourite summertime treat – Acai.
This delicious berry desert may be known to you as a health food to you but the locals know so many more uses for it than that.
Traditional Acai bowls can be found all over Rio but don’t miss Acai ice-cream!
You can buy it from a street vendor 200 ml for 3 Reals (Just less than $1 USD).
Trust me, it is ridiculously delicious!
Here is our favourite Acai Bowl recipe if you would like to make some very delicious Acai at home.
- 1. One Frozen Banana
- 2. A handful of frozen strawberries
- 3. A handful of frozen blueberries
- 4. Apple Juice
- 5. Frozen Yogurt
- 6. Acai berry puree
- 7. Fresh berries & nuts to garnish
- Combine the frozen banana, berries, apple juice, acai berry puree and frozen yogurt into a blender
- Blend until all ingredients are well mixed
- Place into a bowl and garnish with fresh berries and nuts.
Dulce de Leite
While we are on the topic of sweet treats, let’s talk about Dulce de Leite.
This sweet, fudge like treat is found on virtually every corner of Brazil.
You can purchase a sweet treat from a local street vendor for between 1 – 2 Reals (about 0.50 USD).
TIP: The street vendor near the Starbucks at the Cinelandia metro entrance serves particularly delicious Dulce de Leite.
Here is a great simple Dolce De Leite recipe for you to try at home before your trip to Brazil:
- 1. 2 litres of 2% milk
- 2. 4 Cups of White Sugar
1. Put the milk and white sugar into a pan
2. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar completely disappears
3. Place the pan onto a stove on medium heat and slowly bring the white and sugar to a boil (15-20 minutes)
4. On a reduced heat, continue to stir for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the mixture is a rich brown colour. The consistency of the mixture should be velvety and creamy.
5. Pour into a glass continue and once cooled keep in refrigerator.
Brazilian BBQ Buffet: By the Kilo
You practically cannot walk down a street in Rio without seeing one of the many per kilo buffets.
At first, I thought this concept was a total rip off scam like weighing chocolates in a fine chocolate store.
However, considering you are able to get top quality steak for between 30 ($10 USD) – 75 ($23 USD) Reals a kilo (depending where you go) that’s really not too bad a deal!
The key is with these places is to go easy on the rice, potato & beans and pile up that meat!
We tried the Catete Grill while in Rio De Janeiro and were pretty happy with the quality of food.
If you would like to try something very traditional outside of the ‘safe’ Brazilian Food we would highly recommend trying Brazilian feijoada.
Essentially, brazilian feijoada is bean stew and one of the most famous dishes from the Rio De Janeiro area.
This dish comprises of black beans and salted pork and beef. It does not sound too great but while accompanied with rice, farofa and cabbage it really hits the spot.
If you would like to try this famous Rio De Janeiro dish we would suggest going to Casa de Feijoada.
Brazil certainly is a country for the sweet tooth amongst us.
Quindim, a delicious Brazilian desert is another traditional Brazilian food you simply have to try in Rio De Janeiro.
It is a very simple desert, made of nothing more than eggs, sugar and coconut.
Don’t underestimate it though topped with a smooth buttery custard, it is certainly a desert that melts in your mouth.
If you are looking to try Quindim in Rio De Janeiro we would suggest the Rubaiyat Rio restaurant for particularly delicious Quindim.
One must not leave Rio De Janeiro without trying one of Brazil’s National Cocktails, the Cachaça.
Cachaça is the secret ingredient in Caipirinhas. It gives Caipirinhas an extra kick (you will know what I mean when you try it ;)). The secret to the kick is fermented sugarcane juice.
Brazilians have been making caipirinhas with a kick since the 1500s so they really know how to make a good one.
One of the best places to enjoy a Cachaça is Casa da Cachaça, Av. Mem de Sa, 100, Centro, Rio de Janeiro.
Seafood lovers everywhere will rejoice at Moqueca, a traditional Brazilian fish stew with so much flavour.
The dish is based on palm oil, peppers and coconut milk and garnished with tomatoes, onions and coriander. The meal is served with rice, farofa and pirão (a fish porridge).
This dish is a cool one to order as it comes served in an enticing hot clay pot.
While this is not a dish that originated in Rio De Janeiro, the best Moqueca is found in Bahia and Capixabas, you can still try a good Moqueca in the city of Rio De Janeiro.
If you would like to taste this traditional Brazilian food we would recommend Nomangue restaurant in Copacabana.
If you don’t feel like eating at a restaurant, you can always eat a kebab grilled directly on the street. You have the choice of chicken, beef, sausage or a mix of all.
There is usually a line up as they are quite delicious!
We would recommend the Brazilian street kebabs near the Cinelandia metro station. Each kebab costs only 4 Reals each ($1.22 USD) – what a bargain!
Non Traditional Brazilian Food in Rio De Janerio & Brazilian Street Food
While we were in Rio De Janerio we really enjoyed the street food and other non traditional food that the locals really enjoyed.
If you have had enough of traditional Brazilian food at this stage of your trip, here are some non traditional Brazilian food we would recommend trying while in Rio De Janerio.
Corn on the cob
If you are looking for a cheap snack, corn on the cob can be found at literally every corner of Rio de Janerio.
Corn on the cob are super buttery and delicious and quite honestly, the perfect lunchtime snack while seeing all the sites in Rio de Janerio.
You can buy a corn on the cob for 3 Reals (less than $1 USD).
Rotisseria – a local’s favourite
One of the best cheap eat finds in town is the local favourite, Rotisseria.
This Lebanese restaurant serves up delicious Lebanese meat pastries filled with beef, chicken, cheese or many other things for only 5 Reals each ($1.50 USD).
Usually around 2-3 is enough to fill you for a light dinner.
Street drinking with bar snacks
There are many places on the streets of Rio where you can sit and share a cheap large beer (enough for two people) for only 6.50 Reals ($2 USD).
It is popular in Brazil to eat a bar snack with your beer.
A very popular, traditional bar snack is Pão de queijo (cheese bread).
Brazilian Street Food: Hot dog stands & toasties
As you can see, Rio does a great job of the cheap street food.
For lunch, Michael enjoyed having a hot dog or a cheese & ham toastie. A simple, quick & easy lunch will set you back only between 1.99 – 3.50 Reals (0.60 – 1 USD).
There is a lot of street food located around the metro stop Cinelandia.
Pensao da Nonna: Pizza in Rio
I’m convinced Pensao da Nonna really does serve up the most delicious Italian style pizza in all of Rio.
You can buy a very large pizza which serves about 3 hungry adults (picture doesn’t do the size of the pizza justice) for around 35 Reals (around $10 USD).
This pizza shop can be found in the suburb of Catete in Rio.
Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro?
If you are travelling on a little bit more of a budget in Rio but want to stay in nice & comfortable accommodation, we highly recommend the Catete area.
The area isn’t as touristy as Ipanema or Copacabana and does require a metro ride to reach the beach.
However, it gives you a far more local & less touristic experience and also provides you with far more affordable food and drink options in the surrounding area.
We stayed at the 1900 Hotel and were very happy with our selection of accommodation. During low season, you can score a room here for between 35 – 45 USD.
The rooms are clean, comfortable, have good wifi, air conditioning and a yummy breakfast included. The only downside to the rooms is that they are a little on the small side.
For even a little more luxury on the same street, try the Royal Regency Palace Hotel. We believe this hotel is owned by the same people. However, it is newer and even more luxurious than 1900 Hotel.
Best Things to do in Rio de Janeiro?
We enjoyed visiting Rio de Janeiro a lot. Along with eating (A LOT) here are our top things to do in Rio de Janeiro.
Visit Ipanema Beach
Ipanema Beach was one of our favourite beaches in Rio. Okay, I have to admit it is partly due to the famous song, the Girl from Ipanema.
The backstory of the song is that a stunning 15 year old girl who walked by the beach everyday. This girl, still around today, is a celebrity in Brazil now known as the ‘Grandma of Ipanema’.
If you are in the Ipanema area we would suggest the following restaurants for some great food:
- Le Bistrot du Cuisinier
- Churrasueira Rio
- L’Atelier Mimolette
- Quiteria Restaurante
Visit a Favela
You might think it is scary to visit a favela but it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Rio.
Despite the fact it is not ‘scary’ as such, it is highly recommended to go on guided tour. You are visiting a low socio economic area of Brazil so muggings are more common.
If you are interested in eating some traditional food from a favela your guide can show you the best places to go.
Walk the Escadaria Selaron
One of the most iconic staircases in the world is located in Rio known as the Escadaria Selaron.
Interestingly, the colourful ceramic tiles comprising Escadaria Selaron come from all from different parts of the world.
The history of the stairs is that in 1990, Selarón, a resident of the street started renovating the dilapidated steps that ran along the front of his house with the colours of the Brazilian flag.
What started out as a hobby for Selarón turned out as an obsession and he sold artwork to fund the tiling of the stairs.
Escadaria Selaron can be easily accessed by public transport. The closest metro to the Escadaria Selaron is the Cinelandia metro stop.
Visit Sugarloaf Mountain
Uber became our best friend while in Rio due to the super cheap price of using the service (especially if you used Uber Pool).
Going to Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio was about the only time that using Uber became a problem.
Our Uber driver, for some bizarre reason, kept repeating ‘Sugie Sugie?’ and had no idea of where this famous landmark was. Strange, for being one of the most popular and and iconic landmarks in Rio.
Despite this minor setback, it is clear why Sugarloaf Mountain is rated the #1 attraction in Rio on tripadvisor – the views at the summit are fantastic!
A cable car takes you to the top of Sugarloaf mountain and costs $76 Reals or around $23 USD per ticket. In order to reach the summit, you are required to take two 10 minute cable rides (included in the entry price).
The views after each cable ride are equally stunning. If you are spoiled for choice, pick a day that is clear & sunny for the best panoramic views. You can also enjoy a short rainforest walk at the top, where if you are lucky, you may spot a small monkey!
If you would rather use the great public transport system in Rio to reach Sugarloaf, the nearest metro station is Botafogo. Botafogo is around a 10 minute bus ride away to Sugarloaf (take the 581 or 513 bus). Public transport in Rio costs around 4 Reals one way ($1.20 USD).
Visit Christ the Redeemer!
Finally, any visit to Rio just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Christ the Redeemer Statue!