Eating out is a huge part of carioca culture. From workers piling into lunchtime buffet restaurants or heading for an almoço executivo (set lunch deal) to families travelling out of town for a long, weekend feast, food is taken very, very seriously in Rio. And while the restaurant scene is increasingly cosmopolitan, it always pays for visitors to try a few hands-down Brazilian classics as well.
Sifting through the hundreds of establishments not just in Zona Sul but as far afield as Guaratiba in the West and into Centro and Zona Norte, Time Out Rio's critics have gathered their collective appetites and can't-live-without addictions to come up with a list of the most unmissable items currently on carioca menus. In no particular order, but grouped together by type, here are our 50 'must try' dishes, snacks and drinks. We hope you're feeling hungry.
Explore Rio's 50 must-try dishes and drinks
From the feijoada - Brazil's famously hearty bean stew - to shrimp moquecas and not forgetting lots and lots of steak, the national cuisine is everywhere. We've picked out a few choice cuts, from what to order at the all-you-can-eat meat feasts to where you will find the best pepperoni pizza.
- see our selection of the best main courses
Avoid the potentially night-ending big meal and instead opt for a tasty quebra-galho (stop gap). Several well-loved bars base their reputation on the power of their pork sandwiches to keep the masses drinking, but some of the smarter establishments have some pretty innovative takes on the classics too.
- see our selection of the best light bites
The pastel rules the roost in Rio, served individually or in small portions, often depending on their quality (smaller is indeed better in this case). Close behind come the bolinhos de bacalhau - fried cod balls - a more unlikely star of Copacabana you will be hard pushed to find.
- see our selection of the best bar snacks
The carioca sweet tooth is the stuff of legend, the number of tart specialists lining the high street stand as testament to the fact. We pick out three of the best, but just as crucially unearth the juice bars serving up the best açaí - that essential summer accessory and alleged 'super-food' - in the city.
- see our selection of the best desserts
Café culture is slowly making its mark as culture vultures look for alternatives to the beach way of life, so we've picked out the best croissants and cappuccinos around. Just as important has been the ascent of the mixologist in Rio's bars, bringing strange, new variations to the classic caipirinha.
- see our selection of the best cafés and cocktails