Grabbing a drink and a meal in Rio doesn't have to mean spending your entire travel budget. We've pulled together a list of bars and restaurants with delicious drinks and eats for 10 bucks. Some are a bit more, some are way less, but all are a great deal.
The Casa da Matriz group is known for entertaining, they are the minds behind the Teater Odisséia and Albrg da Matriz performance spaces. Boteco Salvação is no different. Outfitted with kitschy, vintage inspired memorabilia, even the decor of Boteco Salvação is attention-grabbing. The pub-like diner hosts a range of attractions almost every night of the week. From Samba and soccer on Sundays to jazz night and retro lindy hop bands, there is something for most tastes that usually guarantees music with your meal. If music isn’t your thing, go for the nightly drink specials. Boteco Salvação’s 2 for 1 drink specials have made the spot perfect for locals’ after work get-togethers and celebrations. Each drink has its own night of the week. Tuesday is Mojito night. Drink one up alongside the popular homemade Rock burger.
Eating at a Kilo (self-serve restaurant that prices the food you select by weighing it, per kilo) in Rio is part of a true Carioca experience. And if you find yourself in Zona Sul, Fellini should be included in at least one of your meal plans. Having been in Leblon for over twenty years, the restaurant is almost an institution, and it’s full house signifies that it’s a local favourite. It’s usually recommended to steer clear of places during busy times, but for kilos, it’s the opposite. My local tip is: the busier the place, the fresher the food. And Fellini is no exception. They manage to deliver just-leaving-the-kitchen Brazilian and European dishes for the best prices around (average plate is usually $12). They set themselves apart by offering higher-ticket items like sushi, salmon, filet mignon, homemade pastas and salads for the same price per weight. Many kilos in the city don’t offer as much assortment and when they do, there is special (read:higher) pricing for seafoods and expensive meats. Their food bar also includes desserts like chocolate dipped strawberries and mousse. Their multi-lingual staff is just as diverse as their meals and are as friendly on your first visit as if you had been visiting for 20 years.
Estação do Peixe
One street over from Lapa, in the neighborhood Bairro de Fátima, exists a delightful corridor of seafood restaurants. Restaurants line shoulder to shoulder, taking up half of Rua André Cavalcanti, all with virtually the same menus featuring seafood as the star. Probably the best seafood you can get at the cheapest prices outside of Niterói. The restaurants all line up plastic blue tables on the outside sidewalks where most diners like to eat their fried fish or shrimp and drink cold beer al fresco. Even in winter months, crowds gather outside, sometimes trading the fried fish for a seafood stew and cold beer for mulled wine. A plate overflowing with freshly fried sardines, each about the size of a small woman’s hand is about $12 US dollars and beer is about $2. Locals have their favorite restaurants depending on personal preferences, but menus and prices are exactly the same between each of the restaurants to stay competitive and because seats fill up quickly, it’s best to grab a table you can get anywhere along the street. It’s best to bring cash to pay.
This small bar with a homespun feel is tucked in lower Tijuca close to Praça Vanhargem. It’s dirt cheap prices and friendly service keep it packed. Most of the crowd goes to nearby UERJ and the others are locals from the neighborhood. Papo Inicial offers Heineken for one of the best deals in the city, only R$2.99! Don’t miss their signature drink, the CAIPILÉ, a caipivodka with Frutilly (a vodka caipirinha fashioned with a fruity popsicle). Papo Inicial’s specials extend to their bar foods like pastels and chicken fingers (which aren't as commonplace in Brazil as in some other countries as an appetizer). They also go beyond the typical with offerings like eggplant bruschetta.
If you were to judge solely by it's location and selection of beers from around the world, one would think this is one of the most expensive bars in Rio. But the casual, wall-to- floor Portuguese tiles, common to most bars in town let you know this is a neighborhood bar. Brewteco boasts having more than 90 bottles of beer from around the world. They also stock the best microbrews from Rio de Janeiro. Despite sitting in one of the most expensive zip codes in Rio, the setting is laid back and the prices match. The two beers that are always on tap are perennial crowd pleasers. Local artesianal beers like 3Cariocas, Trópica and TREMBÃO are lovely contrasts to the omnipresent big batch brands you'll find everywhere. For a snack, try their puffed dough pastry filled with meat (napolitano pastel R$ 12,00) or their grilled cheese cube with honey (R $ 12.00) is a delicious and popular snack.
Marquês da Gávea
Decked out in jerseys and sports photos, Marquês da Gávea bar is one of the best places to grab a beer and watch the game in Gávea. The beers are very cold and the appetizers are fresh--both can be had for a great price. Order the fresh fried codfish balls for only R$3 or a grilled meat skewer for R$6-$R8. You can grab a bottle of their Devassana beer for only R$ 6.50. It's the type of neighborhoody place, where repeat customers recognize one another (by face if not by name) and everyone feels at home. But for big soccer games and UFC matches the crowds can sometimes spill over onto the sidewalk so get their early for a table.