Brazil, Brazil. Famous for its football, amazing beaches and friendly people, however not always so favourably remembered for its food. The first time I came to Brazil I really struggled with the ‘beige’ food on offer – lots of heavy meats and pastries, carbs on carbs on carbs! But this time my experience has been completely different as I’ve enjoyed my culinary adventure across the sixth largest country in the world. This post will look at what some of Brazil’s main cities has to offer, and maybe why, if you’re a foodie like me, you should be booking Brazil as your next holiday.
With a population of 12.04 million people, São Paulo has an abundance of restaurants to choose from -whatever tickles your fancy. Not only are there many of the traditional pay per kilo eateries and churrascarias but also cuisines from all over the world, including some amazing Japanese food. As Brazil has the largest population of Japanese people living outside of Japan, boy do they do sushi well.
We went to Temakeria e Cia just off Paulista Avenue and enjoyed some really tasty sushi. Between the two of us, the sushi platter we got which has a range of sashimi, nigiri and maki costing about R$90 (£20) and we could barely finish it off it was so big and filling. For sushi in Brazil this is reasonably priced, as there are some places in Via Magdalena which sell one piece of sushi for R$40 (roughly £10) which seems extortionate.
If you still want to eat delicious food but can’t always afford to go out for sit-down meals then another economical way to eat in the city is in the food courts in malls. We ate at Not Guilty in Top Center Shopping on Paulista Avenue and for R$22 (£5) and had a Malaysian beef salad which really hit the spot. It was definitely a healthy alternative to the other stuff on offer (McDonalds, Subway, etc) and was so delicious and fresh. They even have freshly squeezed juices and smoothies on offer.
One of the best meals I had however, and I’m annoyed with myself for not taking a photo, was a Brazilian place in Via Magdalena. We had a pulled beef joint with bread and then another plate of beef with sun dried tomatoes, olives, mozzarella and olive oil. I keep dreaming about this meal it was so good. If you’re ever in São Paulo make sure you go to Mercearia São Pedro, you will not be disappointed!
One of the first restaurants we went to was Bar Zulu in the historic centre. It’s not exactly cheap but it does do really good food. I had the banana burger which was so good! There are lots of healthy options with guacamole and fresh vegetables. The standard price for a dish is around R$40 (£10).
Cafelier in the old town is another great choice for food. On a cliff top overlooking the new town, this was a pretty setting for a spot of lunch, and is one of the cheaper options for eating out.
But fear not you vegans. There are some fantastic vegetarian and vegan restaurants in many of the bigger cities. In Salvador, we came across Rango Vegan which set in the historic centre has a lovely bohemian vibe. With a fixed menu, we paid approximately £4.50 for the plate of the day, which was the most delicious vegan curry with bananas, vegetables and lentils. Even if you’re not vegan, I would definitely hit this place up because of the value for money and great vibes this little restaurant has.
A 45 minute boat ride from Salvador is the island of Itaparica. If you want to go to the beach, this is the place in Salvador. It’s so much more relaxed than Barra, and has beautiful panoramic views of the entire city. Getting to and around the island is relativelt inexpensive – R$7 each way for the boat, and around another R$10 return for a taxi to and from the beaches. We ate at one of the beach bars and had a tasty meal of sun dried beef with some fresh vegetables and herbs and rice. And don’t forget a side of the refried beans!
Rio de Janeiro
Rio, the city I could come back to again and again. There is a certain magic about this place which makes it on the top of my list of places you must visit. I’d put the food there on the same par as London, and it has prices to match in neighbourhoods like Ipanema and Leblon. Even one of the best restaurants in Rio, Bar David, in the favela Chapeu Mangueira has a price tag of R$40+ – that being said, these restaurants are named the best for a reason and you shouldn’t miss out.
Another great veggie restaurant which had queues out the door and round the corner is Delirio Tropical in Ipanema. The food is so healthy and wholesome, and cheaper than lots of other places in Ipanema. In a sort of buffet style, you can pick and choose from a number of different salads and warm options such as quiches. But make sure you get down there early to avoid the queues.
We also tried Al Liban in Ipanema which does Lebanese food to perfection. Admittedly, I did find it a little bit expensive (R$20 for two options which works out roughly as a fiver) but the food was delicious and I was only disappointed because I was starving. You can choose from tabbouleh, falafel, hummus, empanadas with meat in them and even shwarma. This place is great for a quick bite rather than a sit down lunch.
So, Brazil is truly one of my favourite countries and has so much to offer in terms of its rich history, beautiful culture, welcoming people and incredible food. It’s a place where you can see yourself returning time and time again so if you haven’t already been, you need to go.
If you would like to know any more about any of the restaurants we’ve recommended please feel free to drop us an email!