Mais Que Nada
In a city known for its sinful fried, doughy cheese pies and rodízio steakhouses overflowing with spears of meat, healthy vegetarian options, not to mention vegan or gluten-free, can be almost impossible to find. Odd, then, that within the touristy confines of Copacabana is a small, affordable lunch spot giving Brazilian classics a creative, veggie-friendly twist that even the carnivorous can revel in. Set across two floors and a mezzanine level, BioCarioca's atmosphere is understated and casual with an organic twist: white and green on the walls, rustic wood tables and tiny potted plants delivering an eco-friendly look.
Choosing from BioCarioca's dizzying array of made-to-order juices can be difficult, but going for a more original take on the suco store staples is recommended. At BioCarioca, cinnamon and clove become a watermelon juice’s (R$6) spicy partners in crime to create an incredibly refreshing sip.
The chef's take on the traditional moqueca stew, needs no meat or fish to shine. Chunks of al dente heart of palm, onions and carrots go in the tomato-based broth that is hearty, lightly spiced and filling. Brown rice is the perfect way to soak it all up, along with the farofa com gengibre crocante (R$9), a firey take on the classic manioc-based side.
Usually a carioca carb-lovers dream, the escondidinho de batata baroa with ricotta and spinach (R$9.80), avoids the greasy, meat-heavy traditional filling, and instead uses a creamy sweet potato underneath a crispy, brittle cheese crust. For a guilt-free finale, there is a wide variety of organic, fruit-based desserts. The coconut and passion fruit mousse (R$6.50) is positively custardy in texture, whilst the banana tart is a sugar-free trifecta of cinnamon, nuts and banana that could just use a drizzle of honey to give it a lift.