Time Out Rio de Janeiro

The Rio food and drink 50 - light bites

When a full meal just seems like too much, Time Out runs through ten of the best small dishes to kill the hunger without killing your buzz.

Local favourites

Pão de calabresa at Bráz

R$19. Jardim Botânico

With so many tables inside the cavernous Italian emporium Bráz it's a wonder that the place ever fills up. That the queues also snake up the road on weekends isn't all down to the pizza, either. Indeed, some of the big guns are a bit too clever for their own good, but dip in for a chopp and a chunk of the pão de calabresa bread and leave safe in the knowledge you've had the best thing on the menu. Super crunchy crust on the outside, fluffy and loaded with pepperoni on the inside, the 'pizza cake' really is worth the trip alone.

  • read the full review of Bráz

Sopa de baroa com brie at Guimas

R$26.50. Gávea

A generous bowlful of creamy baroa soup comes highly recommended at this quirky, bohemian Gávea restaurant. The vegetable in question has no literal English equivalent - despite being called the Peruvian Parsnip in some quarters it best resembles the humble potato in texture and taste. Throw in a dollop of brie and sprinkle of nutmeg and you have a serious winter warmer, the crunchy triangles of oil and oregano-covered toast making for a perfect dipper.

  • read the full review of Guimas

Sanduiche de pernil at Bracarense

R$14. Leblon

Post-beach beers need something more than a pack of taste-fleeing Globo biscuits to sate the appetite, which is where the stacked pork sandwiches at 'Braca' come in. It's unlikely you'll find a table once the sun starts to drop behind the beach-front buildings, but the cars parked alongside seem to make for willing substitutes. Dive straight in to the bubbling cauldron of beer drinkers and the food is out in a flash, complete with enough filling to pull out a few slices and have on the side. Soak in lime juice and away you go.

Polvo marinado at Adega Pérola

R$18. Copacabana

Part of the Copacabana firmament, Pérola’s 55 years of snack-perfecting means they have their octopus down to an absolute tee. Marinated to perfection in a secret tangy blend and best enjoyed with a bottle of malty Teresópolis beer, this is a serious slice of a bygone age of Rio's most famous neighbourhood. Park up at the counter and soak up a little bit of history.

Trouxinhos de Axé at Espirito Santa

R$26. Santa Teresa

The whole menu at Espírito Santa is a well thought out array of Amazonian influences and ingredients, but the shrimp paste-filled trouxinhos de axé are an outstanding start to proceedings. Stuffed with vatapá, the green parcels are served with a bowl of dendê oil-flavoured farofa that leaps head and shoulders above the run of the mill manioc flour. Grab a table on the balcony for the best seats in the house and a different view of beautiful Santa Teresa.

International flavour

Babaganoush at Amir

R$26. Copacabana

Rio isn’t always the first place you would associate with Middle Eastern cuisine but nonetheless it continues to thrive in some of the most unlikely spots. Here in one of the seedier corners of Copa's beach block, Amir packs them in courtesy of a rich and creamy houmous, pillow-soft pittas and authentic-tasting kebabs wrapped in huge flatbreads. Sit out on the roadside and grab a plate of the smoky babaganoush aubergine dip to get things off to a flying start, so good it could hold its own anywhere in the world.

  • read the full review of Amir

Mini-burgers at Q Bar

R$29. Leblon

Pitching itself as one of the few gastro-bars in the city, Q Bar's food is gradually outshining the drinks on the gastronomic hub of Rua Dias Fereira. The menu is constantly on the move, but a hardy perennial among all the to-ing and fro-ing is the portion of five mini-burgers, perfectly cooked and with truffled mushrooms to complement the beef.

  • read the full review of Q Bar

Linguiça de cordeiro at Do Horto

R$27. Jardim Botânico

The thin lamb sausages served up in funky bar-restaurant Do Horto next to the Botanical Gardens pack a hefty hit of meaty flavour and come served with a drop of mint sauce to please the traditionalists. It's a popular, colourful hang out with more than a touch of the romance about it and an adventurous menu that makes for a passionate team of regulars trying in vain to keep a lid on their happily off-circuit spot.

Philly cheese-steak sub at Deli Bizarra

R$16. Leblon

The diminutive New-York style deli on the edge of Leblon does a great selection of US favourites like spicy chicken wings, as well as one of the better pizzas in town. Best friends Ger Grant and Pedro Widmar, an Irishman and a carioca respectively, set up in 2010 and have quietly gone about perfecting the ultimate Philly cheese-steak sandwich, packed with fresh salad and served with a clutch of above-average fries. Recommended for a post-beach stop-off.

Burger de cogumelos at Balada Mix

R$27.90. Leblon

On an altogether healthier tip, the vegetarian burger at citywide health-shack Balada Mix is cherished for the fact that it clearly hasn't just come off a conveyor belt. Intertwined layers of mushrooms with quinoa, honey and ginger bind the whole thing together, making for a rare treat for Rio's much neglected non-meat fans, though the excellent executive lunch menu offers plenty for the carnivore too.


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Words by Time Out Rio de Janeiro editors

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