Little Black Book - Our Rio Tips and Secret Addresses

On this page we share our secret addresses and hand out advice and little tips to make your trip to Rio extra enjoyable. This page is now updated as often as we get to Rio...It's not meant to be a restaurant guide, even though we list a few of our favorite spots; if you need help with that, send us an e-mail and we'll try to help you out. But it definitely aims at being your style guide to the best shopping in Rio! (You'll notice that we've added a few addresses in São Paulo too; they were simply irresistible!) And, before you ask, no, we don't get any discounts or commissions or freebies from any of the stores or vendors listen below. We wish! (But, at least, you know we're being honest and impartial in our selections...)

Books and Music
Gone Shopping
Cultural Spaces
Not on an empty stomach...

Books and Music

Bossa Nova Fans

Are you a bossa nova fan? Boy, do we have an address for you! Toca do Vinícius in Ipanema is a combination store/performance space dedicated to the works of the poet/lyricist/Jobim's partner and to the bossa nova in general. CDs, books, t-shirts, videos, shows, classes, etc. The store is located at Rua Vinícius de Moraes, 129, smack in the heart of Ipanema. (We wrote this years ago, but owner Carlos Alberto is still enthusiastically helpful, most "simpático," and tremendously helpful with all things relating to Brazilian music.) He now promotes free "rodas de samba" and "rodas de choro" right outside on the sidewalk.

Making bossa's inverse route, the owners have opened a second store at the Beco das Garrafas in Copacabana where it all started.

Homesick...Can't sleep...Need magazines and postcards...
The newsstand on Rua Visconde de Pirajá in front of the Nossa Senhora da Paz square is open until 11 p.m. Great place to browse or buy  international newspapers and magazines and that postcard for your mother. It's air-conditioned no less...

In Leblon, Banca Piauí still reigns supreme at the corner of Rita Ludolf Street and Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva, right across the street from the best coffeehouse in Rio, Café Cafeína. It has been "adopted" by their namesake, the magazine Piauí...whatever that means. In any case, it's the best magazine in Brazil!

Best Places for Choros (and Samba)

Until recently, I had trouble picking a favorite, because Rio has so many great spots for music, but I took one look and fell in love with Trapiche Gamboa, Rua Sacadura Cabral, 155, Gamboa. Located in a very tall, restored historic building from 1867, in a very old area of Rio—practically next door to the Morro da Conceição—it has super ambience, yummy food, friendly waiters, etc. etc.

rabodelagartixa2.jpg (78280 bytes)In Lapa, our top choice is Bar Semente at Rua Joaquim Silva, 138, where guitarist extraordinaire Zé Paulo Becker plays every Monday evening, followed by Carioca da Gema, Rua Mem de Sá, 79. On the same street, you'll find Estrela da Lapa, a gorgeous place, worth a visit for the architecture and renovation alone (but the food is yummy, too)! Centro Cultural Carioca at nearby Praça Tiradentes, Circo Voador...lots of choices. Check the daily papers! Some places, such as Carioca da Gema and Estrela da Lapa, are air-conditioned, which is a plus in Rio's sweltering summers...

Close by on Rua do Lavradio, 20 is the not-to-be-missed Rio Scenarium. Their new spot down the street called Santo Scenarium, all decorated with baroque images and oratórios, is a must-see also. Put it on your list quickly! 

In Copacabana, the ultra-traditional roda de samba at Bip Bip, Rua Almirante Gonçalves, 50, takes place every Sunday from 8 to 11 p.m.

A gorgeous new space in a restored old house in Catete, Ameno Resedá brings the crème de la crème of Brazilian music to you. If you're going to Rio in March, the all-star lineup includes Nó em pingo d'água, Marcos Sacramento, and João Donato!!! And great food, to boot...

Photo Courtesy: Rodrigo Lessa

In Laranjeiras, there's a free roda de choro called "chorinho na feira" every Saturday at the street market on Rua General Glicério, starting at 11 a.m. You can eat fabulous pastéis, buy your fruit and veggies, and listen to great music.

In Botafogo check out Bar do Belmiro for rodas de samba, (see below under places to eat) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 8 p.m.

Arab in Parque dos Patins, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, presents great choro and samba weekly, call 2540-0747 for information. The view from there is to die for: Corcovado Mountain, the lights around the lagoon, and in December, Rio's floating Christmas tree.

Most papers have online info on all of these great spots, plus Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, etc. Veja magazine publishes a weekly guide called Veja Rio; O Globo has a Rio Show supplement every Friday; and Jornal do Brasil comes up with Revista Programa also on Fridays. They're all excellent.

Best Places to Learn All This Wonderful Music

Pianist and composer Antonio Adolfo years and years ago had the brilliant idea to start a music school and they has been teaching the second- and third-generations of such musical dynasties as the Jobim and Baden Powell families. If you find that you have time to spare, why not take a samba percussion class (or any other Brazilian rhythm of your choice) or workshops on Brazilian music with the best teachers in Rio? The school will accept youngsters too. It is conveniently located at Rua Almirante Pereira Guimarães, 72 in Leblon; call 2274-8004 or 2239-2975 between the hours of 8 AM and 10 PM and ask to speak with Luisa or José Luis.

And the dance steps too...Head for Jaime Aroxa's Dance Center at Rua São Clemente, 55 in Botafogo next door to the metro station or the school owned by Carlinhos de Jesus at Rua Alvaro Ramos, 11, in the same neighborhood.

Best Music Store And We Can't Believe It's Gone!!!

We mourn the closing of this amazing place!! There are many good places to buy CDs, including the bookstores listed below, but we think Modern Sound in Copacabana is the tops! The selection is amazing, their café/restaurant (Allegro Bistro) serves excellent food, and they present free live acts every week. The only problem need to make reservations early! You'll find them at Rua Barata Ribeiro, 502D, call 2548-5005, or ask your hotel front desk/concierge for directions, bus number, etc.

Best Bookstores (YEAH, they still have bookstores in Brazil!!)

livrariadatravessa.jpg (73684 bytes)Our favorite bookstore (and top hangout) is Livraria da Travessa, Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 572, Ipanema, Av. Rio Branco, 44 in downtown Rio, and their spanking new superstore in fab Shopping Leblon.

The other spot I love for newsies from home is Letras e Expressões, a bookstore/café-bar at Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 276. In Leblon, livraria Argumento, at Rua Dias Ferreira, 417, has a great selection of books and CDs, a wonderful café, and great free events (DVD launch parties, book signings, etc.).

(Around the corner from these guys, you can have a fabulous garlic and olive oil pizza at Pizzaria Pronto until the wee hours. Ah...Rio! By the way, their competition is down the street: a lot of cariocas swear by Pizzaria's been there for forty-plus years and it's still a favorite with veterans and the young crowd as well.)

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Gone Shopping


Our favorite souvenirs from Rio are what we call "Corcovado Kitsch," those miniature Christ statues in wood or soapstone, as key rings, plates, etc. We find them irresistible, especially now that the monument has been chosen as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. You can buy them atop the mountain or at the Sunday market on General Osório Square in Ipanema. We took pictures of our favorites:

corcovadokitch1.jpg (89160 bytes) corcovadokitch2.jpg (78892 bytes) corcovadokitch3.jpg (62656 bytes)
Best Artesanato Brasileiro (Brazilian Crafts)
For years, we hoped that Brazilians would "discover" the wealth and beauty of their country's handicrafts...well, it looks like, finally, they did. There are more and more stores these days to buy gorgeous handmade objects from all over. Here are a few addresses in Rio. Our favorite is the little shop at the Museu do Folclore in Catete. Check our Music & Folklore Page for shops in other cities.

Brasil & Cia., Rua Maria Quitéria, 27, Ipanema, has a wonderful selection and the best location for tourists, right behind the Caesar Park Hotel.

Other stores: Pé de Boi Artesanato Brasileiro, Rua Ipiranga, 55, Laranjeiras, 2285-4395 and Velho Chico, Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 303, second floor.

For capim dourado objects and jewelry, you now have the easy, easy option of shopping at the Sunday "Feira Hippie" on General Osório Square in Ipanema.

Best Brazilian Design and One-of-a-Kind Objects
Daqui, Design Brasileiro, at Av. Ataulfo de Paiva, 1174, loja F in Leblon is our favorite store for really original design...from necklaces woven of copper wire and hung with tiny fabric flowers to superb futon covers and anything in-between. Check them'll flip over the bunny handbag and the purses made from old Japanese fabrics! They also carry several exclusive clothing designers: funky, beautiful and rather expensive, of course!
Best Fabrics (and Carnaval Costumes!)

If you would like a few yards of the colorful chita or chitão fabrics to make pillow covers, curtains or anything else that strikes your fancy, pay a visit to the traditional Casas Turuna, Rua Senhor dos Passos, 122/124, downtown Rio. They have a marvelous selection. At carnaval time, this is also your address for great, inexpensive, costumes and accessories.

We also recommend the gorgeous book called Que Chita Bacana.

Best Bikinis

Of course, we have a store for you! We even have a page where you can read about the Brazilian bikini. They're still the top of the line after twelve years: Salinas, smack in the heart of Ipanema — where else? — in the Shopping Ipanema 2000, Rua Anibal de Mendonça, 82 2nd floor. You can enter on Rua Visconde de Pirajá also, since it's a corner building. (We pay for our own purchases!!) They also have a shop in Rio Design Shopping in Leblon. Another line we like very much (where I always find bikinis for my daughter and her friends) is Banco de Areia in the Shopping Leblon, first floor. And then, head for the Shopping Rio Sul in Botafogo to snap up some amazing designs at Água de Coco, all the way from was a guy from Australia who called my attention to these beauties...

You can also keep an eye open for vendors right on the beach. These twist-tops are available in dozens of solid colors and prints and you can mix and match them with your other bikini bottoms. Fantastic stuff and you can probably buy a whole collection for the price of one bikini in a store!!

Best Beach Wraps
Don't go home without one of the wonderful beach wrap called "canga." They are incredibly colorful and come in an infinite number of designs, including the sidewalks of Copacabana and Ipanema, the Brazilian flag, a colorful Rio landscape with the Corcovado and the Sugar Loaf, and our favorite, Biscoito Globo (those airy, doughnut-shaped biscuits made with manioc starch that are sold on the beach by vendors like this one dressed in bright orange). Ask the girls in the shops to teach you some ways of wrapping them around your body. They are always eager to help! (The name comes from Africa and was originally spelled kanga.) For selection and price, nothing beats the beach vendors, though.
Best Havaianas Selection

Well, it's not Rio,'s a good tip anyway: São Paulo got their first "concept" store at Rua Oscar Freire, 1116. Walls and walls covered with every single Havaiana in the world! And you can "design" your very own, by combining different tops and bottoms.

Best Colognes and Soaps
"Que cheirinho bom!," said I, and fell in love with Acqua Fresca from O Boticário, the chain makeup and perfume stores. Available for around $10 dollars/bottle all over the country, in shopping centers and at major airports. Runner-up is Lavanda Pop, also from O Boticário. There are a couple of stores on Rua Visconde de Pirajá, the main shopping street in Ipanema; one at Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 244. 

Our other favorite smell is Lavanda Suissa, available for a few dollars a bottle (I'm not kidding, it's that inexpensive) at most drugstores in Rio. I stock up on both every time I'm in Rio and it helps with my "saudades."

For soaps, hand lotions, and such, there's but one address: Granado Pharmácias (spelled just like that...since 1870!), Rua Primeiro de Março, downtown Rio, a block away from the Paço Imperial museum, Rua do Lavradio in Lapa; and Rua Gen. Artigas, 470, in the chic shopping district of Baixo Leblon. Made from all manners of Amazonian fruits, their products smell divine and are good for your skin and hair, too. This is a photograph of their store on Rua do Lavradio in Lapa.

Best Handbags

For limited edition handbags, beeline to Daqui Design Brasileiro. If you're looking for a great Rio souvenir, get a funky, hip coin purse, iPod or cell phone case, or handbag from a designer called Gilson Martins. I picked up a turquoise purse shaped like the Sugar Loaf Mountain several years ago and a cute limited-edition black and white "soccer ball print" bag during a World Cup...The store is located at Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 462-B, 2227-6178. The year-in, year-out favorite design is also his trademark: the Brazilian flag coin purse (also available as a handbag, backpack, etc.).

Best Oh-So-Eco-Chic Accessories
Maria Oiticica's biojewelry is lovely and affordable: they sell bracelets, necklaces, belts, bags, etc., made of Brazilian Amazon seeds and fibers. She opened a new atelier-showroom in a gorgeously renovated old house in the Jardim Botânico neighborhood (well, fits in nicely, doesn't it, with our favorite green haven?), Rua Visconde de Carandaí, 19. If you find yourself in Rio this season or any other, well, check out the website and head out for her store at Shopping Leblon...seems to me that's where you should make your choices and purchases. Absolutely fabulous new 2012/2013 collection!
Best Cheap Chic Accessories

If you're in Rio on a Sunday, go to the "feira hippie" on Praça Gen. Osório and look for the people selling the funky, fun straw-and-bead bracelets and anklets that wrap and wrap around your arm or the great beaded necklaces, bracelets, and armbands in all the colors of the rainbow. You can find the original design by the Waimiri Atroari tribe of northern Brazil at the Museu do Indio in Botafogo.

If you go to the Saara shopping area of downtown Rio for the fabrics we mentioned above, check out Balisun and other stores on Rua da Alfândega for those rainbow-colored bangles from India! Much cheaper than by the River Thames...

Best Jewelry

Besides the famous H. Stern, that is...

If you have the bucks, head for Antonio Bernardo (Shopping Forum de Ipanema and Rua Garcia D'Ávila, 121). Bernardo is one of Rio's iconic figures and the godfather of Rio's Orchidarium at the Botanical Garden. And I am the proud owner of one of his necklaces from way back when....

Best Inexpensive Clothes

The best alternative spots are the vendors located in two buildings in Copacabana, the well-known Santa Clara, 33 and 75, and the stores called Drops de Anis in Ipanema, Rua Visc. de Pirajá, 580, loja D and Leblon, Av. Ataulfo de Paiva, 983, loja A.

Best One-of-a-Kind Clothes

Best we-wish-we-could-afford her: Designer Isabela Capeto, the darling of Brazilian fashionistas, has a new store on Rua Garcia d'Ávila, 173 in Ipanema. Adore her creations!

Best Affordable Shoes

Don't think twice and head straight to Via Mia in the Rio Design Leblon. Elegant and fun, great quality, comfort, and reasonable prices. We adore the new summer 2012/2013 rustic, ethnic designs! Very pretty bags, too!

Best "Where-Did-You-Get-Those" Shoes?
The fashionista find-of-the-year is actually in São Paulo: a store called Ciao Mao, Rua da Consolação, 3058, and Shopping Higienópolis. Unique shoes and sandals with a fantastic selection of colors and interchangeable accessories. Worth a trip, even if you're only going to browse and drool...We went back recently and walked out with a sandal called "origami." Put those on with some old jeans and you're all dressed up and ready to go!
Best Antique Shops and Markets
antiquestore.jpg (102675 bytes)There are many places in Rio for antique lovers: markets downtown and in neighborhoods like Gávea, for instance. Rua do Lavradio in the Lapa section holds its street market the first Saturday of the month; the one in Santos Dumont Square in Gávea is there every weekend...In Copacabana, the Shopping dos Antiquários, Rua Siqueira Campos, 143 is chockfull with antique stores, including two owned by twin brothers Pedro and Paulo Scherer: Snob and Scherer Antiques...if $$ is no obstacle...definitely check them out! 
Favorite Shopping Center...(we steer away from mega-malls...)
The perennial favorites are still in Leblon: Rio Design and the new Shopping Leblon.
Best Kitchen Towels
What on Earth is she talking about, you'd say? Well, if you ever complained about kitchen towels that don't, I mean don't, absorb water when you're trying to dry dishes...we've found the perfect ones! Brazilian kitchen towels made of flour or sugar bags, white as snow and finished with hand-crocheted borders, are sold for one buck at street markets and/or by street vendors almost everywhere in Rio. We bring them back for friends and family every time and guarantee you that they absorb water like a sponge!
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Favorite Cultural Spaces

Museums and Cultural Centers
If art, culture and architecture are your cup of tea, Rio has plenty to offer. Not counting the churches, of course. Check out Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rua Primeiro de Março, 66, a majestic old building in downtown Rio, for concerts, shows, art exhibitions and films. They also have a library, a shop, a very good restaurant (great place to have lunch in style, by the way) and a tearoom, I kid you not. Right behind it is the old Customs building and next to it the old Post Office building, which are both exhibition spaces now. Walk through some cobblestone alleys and you will be at the magnificent Paço Imperial Museum. The Museu Nacional de Belas Artes is not very far, neither are the Museu de Arte Moderna, better known as MAM, and the extraordinary Museu Histórico Nacional. Check out our museums photo gallery.

In the Gávea section of Rio, an absolute must-see is the Instituto Moreira Salles, Rua Marquês de São Vicente, 476, 2512-6448. This used to be the private home of the wealthy Moreira Salles family, built in 1950. The gardens are by Roberto Burle Marx—need we say more?—and the architecture is, well, superb. Go and indulge yourself. There are exhibitions, films, classrooms, library, shop and cafeteria. You also get a feeling for what it must have been like to be very rich in Rio in the fifties...not bad at all!

In Botafogo, don't miss the Museu Villa-Lobos and the Museu do Índio, only a block apart. On your way to the Sítio Burle Marx, stop by the Casa do Pontal, Museu de Arte Popular Brasileira, Estrada do Pontal 3295, Recreio dos Bandeirantes, an extraordinary private collection of Brazilian folk art. The Museu Internacional de Art Naïf do Brasil, right next door to the Corcovado Mountain train station, has reopened!...The Museu do Folclore is at Rua do Catete, 181, across the street from the Catete metro station (phone: 2285-0441).

Across the bay in Niterói the MAC by architect Oscar Niemeyer looks like a spaceship just waiting for the right moment to take off...This marvelous evening photograph is by our friend, singer Robson Coccaro, who lives nearby. Thank you, Robson!!

If you're up for a trip to the magnificent mountains near Rio, go visit the Museu Imperial and the Museu Santos Dumont in the city of Petrópolis.


One of the best walking tours of downtown Rio is to see its magnificent old churches. They're not too far from one another and each one is precious in a different way. They're all magnificent and ornate (I always say that if you are going to worship a Supreme Being you might as well splurge in the decor...and the early citizens of Rio certainly did just that); some are as large as cathedrals and others are small and cozy like this one. The church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa dos Mercadores dates from 1750, and it is located at the corner of Rua do Ouvidor and Travessa do Comércio. You can visit it when you wind your way from the Paço Imperial to the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil passing under the Arco do Teles. I always make sure I have a little time to spend there, because it's a little gem.

Convento de Santo Antonio is undergoing extensive renovations and we're waiting for that to be ready, since our favorite church and image (the winged Christ) are right up there at the Capela da Ordem Terceira...

Number One for Plant Lovers

Besides Rio's Botanical Garden, you absolutely must experience Roberto Burle Marx's Home and Gardens in Barra de Guaratiba, about one hour south of Rio. It's paradise! In the vicinity of the Botanical Garden (Rua Pacheco Leão, etc.) sniff the air and follow your nose to restaurante Couve-Flor, Bar Paxeco (pick a moonlit evening...), and assorted bakeries and buffets.

parquelaje.jpg (225725 bytes)We're also huge fans of Parque Lage, just down the street from the Botanical Garden, where you can fortify yourself with a yummy breakfast/brunch, just before you hit the trail that will take you all the way to the top of the Corcovado mountain. About three hours to walk up there; take water and a snack, leave your watch and jewelry at home (but take a camera, discreetly packed away), and don't go alone...there's safety in numbers here!!

Tip for art lovers traveling to Minas Gerais:Please include the extraordinary Inhotim Institute in your itinerary! Contemporary Art installations spread around an amazingly beautiful Botanical Garden.

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Not on an Empty Stomach...

Best Empadinhas
If you're familiar with Brazilian snacks you'll know what an empadinha is. What you may not know is how many different fillings it can have! Go discover that for yourself at Casa da Empada (check their website for locations). Bananas, guava paste, chicken and Catupiry, broccoli and ricotta cheese, the list is endless.
Best Breads

Are you looking for the perfect bread? We found it at Escola do Pão in the Lagoa section of Rio, near Rio's Botanical Gardens: Rua General Garzon, 10, Lagoa, phone: 2294-0027. Their restaurant is a great place for dinner and on Sundays they serve an already legendary brunch.

Second best: Talho Capixaba in Leblon and Brasserie Rosário downtown, at Rua do Rosário, 34. They're also a fantastic place to have lunch when you're wandering around that area on a Saturday afternoon...Lunch and dinner also served Monday through Friday.

Best Bahian Food
We are absolutely in love with Yorubá, Rua Arnaldo Quintela, 94, in Botafogo. The food is Bahian with a light, sophisticated touch. Start with the superb acarajés and work your way up to Ebubu Fulô, which consists of fish stewed in coconut milk with fresh and smoked shrimp, served with puré of plantains, taro root and rice. My taste buds thought they were in Heaven and so will yours!

Best Bahian Food on the Street

This pretty woman called Lili is part of a family from Bahia that sells acarajé, doce de coco queimado, and THE best doce de abóbora com coco that I ever ate in my life (and I've sampled quite a few over the years!). You'll find them at Cobal do Humaitá every Saturday afternoon and at Largo da Carioca downtown during the week.

I took a picture of her acarajés and my doce de abóbora com coco before I plunged my spoon into it.

Best Comida Nordestina
You may go to the Feira de São Cristóvão, but that's kind of out of the way...The alternative is to jump on a bus or a taxi and go have lunch at Severyna de Laranjeiras, Rua Ipiranga, 54, where you can dig into carne de sol, baião de dois (beans and rice cooked together), jabá com jerimum (which translates as carne de sol com abóbora), galinha de cabidela (not sure if you want the details on this one), and other northeastern delights. Extremely generous portions, always share with someone. The best Carnaval feijoada with roda de samba we've ever attended, too!
Best Botequim
The so-called "botequins" or "botecos," which are Rio's answer to the French bistro. These are places to hang out with a very cold beer or chope (draft beer) and eat little snacks. Some also serve Brazilian home-style cooking. Botequins are basically divided into "pé sujo," meaning you don't want to look too closely at their kitchen, etc., and patrons aren't necessarily dressed to the nines; and "pé limpo," which are cleaner, fancier versions of the traditional watering hole. There are so many of them in every corner of Rio, that it's very difficult to keep track...A new addition, for example, is Mas Será o Benedito, Rua Gomes Freire, Lapa. Here are some of my favorites (most of these places are institutions and I've been going back for the past 25 years!): in Leblon my vote goes to Jobi at Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva, 1166 near the Antero de Quental Square; The best bolinho de aipim with Catupiry (manioc balls filled with Catupiry cheese and shrimp) we ate was at Bar Bracarense, also in Leblon. While in the area, you may want to try Devassa...they make their own beer! Bar Getúlio is located across the street from the Museu da República in Catete; Bar do Juca and Bar Brasil are old staples in Lapa. Our favorite botequim in Botafogo is Bar do Belmiro on Rua Conde de Irajá. In Jardim Botânico, Bar Rebouças on chic Rua Maria Angélica is anything but...a few tables on the sidewalk and the friendliest crowd you'll ever meet and good homemade food. We simply adore the bolinhos de bacalhau at Bacalhau do Rei in Gávea.

barbudo1.jpg (215375 bytes) Out of the way and out of this world is Barbudo, for sure the funkiest bar in Rio, in Pedra de Guaratiba...You'll need a carioca friend to drive you there or to explain to you how to get there on the bus...And on and on...There's a great guide to Rio's botequins that can be picked up at any bookstore. You can eat and drink your way around Rio!

Best Breakfast

Someone in the U.S. should start a tradition of breakfasting with your friends on great breads, ham & cheese slices, papaya and melon slices, and a cup of espresso on a leisurely Saturday morning...How I miss this ritual!! Here's a photo of the most basic of breakfasts Brazil-style: espresso and toasted French bread with butter!

At the top of our list is a breakfast at the new café La Byciclette at the Botanical Garden, followed by a stroll or, in my case, a more vigorous trek up the Mata Atlântica trail...nothing like watching the monkeys eating jackfruit after you had your espresso with the marvelous breads, egg, whatever!

Café Cafeína at the corner of Rua Rita Ludolf and Av. Ataulfo de Paiva in Leblon wins the best breakfast in Rio award! Great selection of breads in a lovely basket, generous portions of Minas cheese and servings of honey and jams, juice, papaya, etc. etc. Order one for two people...more than enough food! They have another location in Leblon inside the Rio Design Center.

Bistrô Escola do Pão is a good, rather expensive, choice in Lagoa; they're at Rua General Garzon, 10, 2294-0027. On the cheap, try having breakfast at a "padaria" or bakery.

I love the "café com leite com pão canoa e queijo de Minas" at Rio Lisboa in Leblon. This translates into coffee with milk, French bread toasted with melted white cheese...something like that!

Armazém do Café at Nossa Senhora da Paz square in Ipanema serves the best espresso in Rio; wonderful pão de queijo to go with it, too. And, wonders of wonders: I had a fabulous, creamy espresso at Starbucks in Shopping Leblon a REAL cup, too...and pão de queijo!!

Best Bets for Chocoholics

We've always loved Kopenhagen, expensive, with several stores around Rio: Shopping Praia Botafogo, Shopping Rio Design Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana, Barra, etc. Their cherry bombom is the best I've ever tasted.

Best Home-Style Cooking

fellinibuffet.jpg (87250 bytes)Some of the best places to eat in Rio - and the rest of Brazil, for that matter - are restaurants that sell food buffet-style by kilo. You help yourself to the food and they weigh your plate at the cash register. They'll do the same with your dessert plate, but on a separate scale.I fell in love with Fellini, Rua General Urquiza, 104, Leblon (it's been voted "Best Buffet in Rio many times"). Fellini's buffet is so fantastic that you'd swear you're eating a la carte...fresh, fresh flavors, organic salads, etc. They keep bringing out fresh platters and bowls of food constantly...nothing just sits there. 

doce de laranja.jpg (63009 bytes)Great bolinhos de mandioca com catupiry, excellent black beans, and the best, I mean, the best doce de laranja (pictured here) and quindins! If you like desserts, doce de abóbora (pictured below), merengue de damasco, and ambrosia are also must-tries. 

doce de abobora.jpg (105726 bytes) Visit their web site to see live buffet images. Their other claim to fame is that they're the only absolutely non-smoking restaurant around. In Ipanema I always eat at Doce Delícia at Rua Anibal de Mendonça, 55, not far from the Nossa Senhora da Paz Square. The home-style cooking is superb and the desserts are to die for. Their salads are all organic and "create-your-own," which is a plus! 

My friends are raving about the quilo restaurant Da Silva at Rio Design Shopping in Leblon...go give them a try and let us know, since we haven't been able to fly down this winter yet!

Cariocas also enjoy this chic little café in Baixo Leblon: Ateliê Culinário at Rua Dias Ferreira, 45 - loja A. Bar do Mineiro in Santa Teresa is so funky and special that it got its own page in our site...check it out!

Do you love roast chicken? Here's something different, that we don't have in the U.S. Very young, tiny chicken called galeto, served with French fries or fried polenta, and a very, very cold beer...Our favorite is: Galeto Mania, inside Cobal do Humaitá, Rua Voluntários da Pátria, 148, Botafogo (these guys also win in the chopp category, by the way!). In Ipanema, try Galitos Grill at the corner of Rua Farme de Amoedo and Rua Visconde de Pirajá. In Leblon, Galeto do Leblon on Rua Dias Ferreira has been a neighborhood staple for decades.

In Botafogo, Botequim Bar & Restaurante serves a marvelous menu (Brazilian) at Rua Visconde de Caravelas, 184. Easily the most "simpático" restaurant we found in Rio!

For good German fare, Bar Lagoa is unbeatable (well, Bar Luís downtown is preeetty good, too!)...since 1934. Gorgeous Art Déco details and grumpiest waiters in town...beware! And since we just mentioned them...Bar Luís, which has been on Rua da Carioca since 1887, serves Rio's best chopp, according to local experts.

Meat lovers should head for Esplanada Grill, Rua Barão da Torre, 600, in Ipanema.

Best All-Time Funky Place to Eat

My favorite place for a sandwich with fruit juice for decades has been Chaika on Rua Visconde de Pirajá next to the Nossa Senhora da Paz Square. Where else in the world could you have a sandwich called  Beirute Ipanema made with a very thin steak, melted cheese and fried banana in a pita bread? That to me almost sums up Rio: good food and a great sense of humor. My daughter is madly in love with it. It's inexpensive and open at all hours.

Best So-What-If-It's-a-Tourist-Trap
garota4.jpg (6401 bytes)It's something you've got to do: visit the Garota de Ipanema bar and restaurant and have a beer at this table. Buy a souvenir T-shirt, why not, and toast the great composer! If you guessed that this is where Tom Jobim got his inspiration to write The Girl From Ipanema, you guessed right. It used to be called Bar Veloso and it looked very different in those days. They say a pretty girl walked in to buy cigarettes and the rest is musical history. By the way, even the street has been renamed Rua Vinícius de Morais in honor of Tom's lyricist.
Best Feijoada

There may be others, but none beats the food-with-spectacular-view combination offered by the Caesar Park Hotel high above the beach in Ipanema. I went on a rainy Saturday and wished I could stay the whole afternoon, eating and gazing out the panoramic windows. It's at the top of the list for Rio's gourmets, too.

Another well-known spot in Ipanema is Casa da Feijoada, Rua Prudente de Morais, 10; in Santa Teresa, Bar do Mineiro serves a wonderful feijoada Tuesdays through Sundays. Get there early, it's a very popular spot! Check the newspapers for the feijoada with samba at experience you wouldn't want to miss!

Best Fast Food with a View
copacabana.jpg (53031 bytes)It's got to be the new Confeitaria Colombo - Café do Forte, inside the Forte de Copacabana (open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; closed on Mondays). Check out this view of the famous beach and the Sugar Loaf Mountain...
Best Sweets and Desserts

If you find yourself walking downtown Rio, then don't miss the original Confeitaria Colombo, their gorgeous late nineteenth-century location at Rua Gonçalves Dias, 32/36. The other alternative we like very much is Casa Cavé nearby, at Rua Sete de Setembro, 137. Their specialty are traditional Portuguese sweets...yummy!!!

Visit Doce Delícia and Fellini above for amazing desserts. Also, Petits Fours at Rua Aristides Espínola, 101-D, Leblon. Torta & Cia. inside the Cobal do Humaitá makes the most scrumptious banana pie (Brazilian style, of course).

If you haven't already discovered the famous "bolo de rolo" from Pernambuco (several paper-thin layers of dough rolled up with goiabada), then head for Academia da Cachaça in Leblon (Rua Conde Bernadotte, 26). Their "bolo de rolo" comes directly from Recife and it's supposed to be the best in Brazil; they serve it with a special kind of northeastern cheese, in the traditional Pernambuco style.

In Botafogo, try Cake & Co at Rua Conde de Irajá, 132. I think they're responsible for an inch or two around my waistline...


Best Brigadeiros de Colher, etc.

These docinhos are so good (and so beautiful!) that they get their own separate mention. Visit Nanda Carino's blog, Doce Mistura, to see her other gorgeous creations and have her cater your next function or party...

Best Fruit Juices

There are great juice bars all over Rio with different fresh fruit juices with exotic, poetic-sounding names like siriguela, taperaba, sapoti, graviola, etc. The options are many, many...Don't forget to drink your coconut water, either on the beach or from vendors on the streets. It's very high on potassium, etc. and it'll keep you hydrated in Rio's ultra-hot and humid summers.

Best Fruit and Other Stuff Ice Creams

Fabulous Sorvete Itália (Brazilian flavors such as cashew, baba de moça, and tapioca) is where we cool down while gaining a few extra pounds now; you'll find them at Av. Visconde de Pirajá, 187 and other locations in Ipanema, and in Leblon, Jardim Botânico, etc. Mil Frutas is another — rather expensive, though — option. You'll find them at Rua Garcia d'Ávila, 134, phone: 2521-1384 and other locations. Flavors vary a lot, but doesn't lychee with sake sound tempting?

Felice Caffè has reopened at their old location in Ipanema, to raving reviews and general delight: Rua Gomes Carneiro, 30, 2522-7749. Theirs is the best pistachio ice cream in town.

Sorvete Brasil is inching towards the top of our list; you can find them at Rua Maria Quitéria close to Praça N. S. da Paz in the heart of Ipanema.

Click here, if you'd like to read more about these tropical delights.

Last, But Not Least...That Wine Bottle!
If you are like me and can't do without the occasional wine glass (it's good for you, remember?), here are two excellent addresses: Expand Ipanema, Rua Barão da Torre, 358, Ipanema and Espírito do Vinho inside Cobal do Humaitá. This one specializes in Portuguese wines made from local grapes at small, family-owned wineries in the northern regions...not-to-be-missed!
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