Rio's Best Beer and Small Plates

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

10 places

Doni Clemons

One of the most Carioca culinary creations are the ubiquitous salgados, appetizer-like small snacks, usually salty rather than sweet and often fried. They can be found everywhere from the corner juice bars to upper crust restaurants around the city (a great way to try an expensive restaurant without having to splurge on an entire meal). We've corralled some of the best options in this list; couple them with cold beer and you will see why locals eat them whenever and wherever.

Confeitaria Colombo

Step off the busy streets of downtown Rio and into the Belle Epoque period designed stained glass ceilings, dazzling mirrored walls and marbled floors of Confeitaria Colombo. A grand dame of café houses, Confeitaria Colombo dates back to the times when Brazil was ruled by the King of Portugal. Aristocrats would fill the café and patisserie discussing the latest politics, events, and gossip of the time while eating and drinking on refined imported china. Minus the aristocrats, not much has changed until today. Visitors can still expect the most delightful european-style pastries and cakes served on fine china. Or take the antique elevator upstairs where the cafe also offers a suitable lunch. Try the Camarão Recheado, fried shrimp in a seasoned batter recipe that the Confeiraria Colombo has been using since 1910. This place gets quite packed, which makes the already delayed service even slower. But no worries, just order another cup of strong coffee or champagne and linger in 19th century Rio just a little longer.

Feira de São Cristóvão

The São Cristóvão fair (Feira de São Cristóvão) started in 1945, with Northeastern immigrants who congregated in front of the pavilion as a community. Often the immigrants brought food and music to their gatherings, these gatherings grew to be the Feira de São Cristóvão. Now the fair is held in the Luiz Gonzaga Municipal Center and it is massive! Visitors can browse over 700 stalls offering a diverse range of products from the northeast of Brazil. The stalls offer a wide variety of crafts, like hammocks and handmade decorative items. As well as, food items like Goiabada, doe de leech and spices. The fair attracts over 300,000 people every month. The most popular time to go is on weekends, when you can see live bands and cultural productions on the two large stages. The fair has about 35 restaurants serving authentic Northeastern cuisine. Try escondidinho at Asa Branca, it's an unforgettable dish made wtih cured meat at the bottom and potato and cheese at the top.

Livraria Argumento

Argumento is a lovely bookstore perfect for finding art, photography, and history books with a focus on Rio de Janeiro. While many bookstores around the world seem to be becoming obsolete, Argumento is thriving. The bookstore has been around since 1978. Argumento made its mark by offering books banned by the military dictatorship which weren't present on the shelves of other stores. Now their shelves are lined with all kinds of international authors. Also of note is what lines their walls- photos by notable photographer Pedro de Moraes, who is the son of poet Vinicius de Moraes. Argumetno often hosts events and booksignings, which are detailed on their website. Their cafe, Café Severino also packs the house, The breakfast at Café Severino is outstanding. Try the waffles which are offered as a savory version with parmesan or a sweet version with chocolate sauce. Or the crepes which come in many varieties including apple with port wine and gorgonzola sauce, Salmon Crepe with Gruyère cheese, and chicken with a mushroom and herb sauce. The misto quenche is the perfect option for those looking for a quick and simple Carioca favorite to go along with their cerveja (beer).


Copacabana is billed as the world's most famous beach. It stretches for for 2.2 miles (4 km) between Leme and Ipanema. Of course, the trademark black and white boardwalk lines the path and the imperiously regal Copacabana Palace sits across from the beach on Av NS de Copacabana. From Postos 2 (Dois) to Posto 6 (Seis) visitors will find generous mix of carioca retirees, tourists, gays and transvestites, and children from the nearby favelas. It is a great beach to really get a sense of the city, while relaxing with agua de coco (coconut water) straight from the coconut. Copacabana Fort (Forte de Copacabana) is to the right of the beach, dating back to 1914. Now it houses the Army Historical Museum. Alongside Forte de Copacabana, fisherman are situated at Posto de pescadores (fishermen’s post). In the morning, you can buy the fresh catch of the day. Also the Copacabana "quiosques" serve tasty and cheap appetizers of grilled shrimp, on skewers or by the plate.

Filé Mignon Bites at Arco do Teles

The Arco do Teles is located in the center of Rio. It is made up of the arches that link the Rua do Ouvidor and the Travessa do Comercio. The area began as the former residence of the Teles family and is now noted for it’s architecture. Three of the original buildings in this area where partially destroyed in a fire in 1790, but many of the grand houses can still be seen today. Another famous resident, Carmen Miranda lived in the area. You can visit a museum in her honor here. Now there are several bars and restaurants in the area. Sometimes they open their doors and place tables and chairs outside to have outdoor parties and happy hours. Try Santa Fé's delicious and budget-friendly appetizer of Filé Mignon, the smoky flavors are reminiscent of a Brazilian Bar-B-Q.

Leme Beach

The small beach of Leme is located at the western end of the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. It’s the closest beach to the Urca Peninsula and the Sugarloaf Mountain, which affords it amazing views of these world-renowned natural attractions. Despite its vicinity to Copacabana, Leme Beach is a more relaxed and quiet destination. Although not as popular as Copacabana to the east, Leme definitely has it’s upsides. Beach goers are also close to the Leme Fort, an interesting landmark offering unforgettable views of Copacabana and Leme beaches. It’s quiet nature makes it perfect for families. Or those looking to have a mini-break from it all. Also the umbrella and chair rentals are lower than in Copa and Ipanema. Kiosks in Leme have tasty and affordable seafood like fried sardines (sardinhas fritas), bigger versions of the fish that are served with lime, for only R$25.

Bar Urca

Bar Urca is a charming place in the other side of Guanabara bay, known for their seafood and risottos, but famous for their caipirinhas and their view. It is a frequented destination especially after traversing Sugar Loaf Mountain. The view has become an attraction in its own right for Brazilian travelers and internationals. Grab a fresh fruit caipirinha (Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor) and muddled fruits with sugar) and an appetizer like the ceviche, or fried shrimp stuffed polenta and sit along the bay a few feet away from the restaurant. It’s all quite spellbinding- especially if you plan your day to be there by sunset. If you are going as a pair, after the sun sets, take the opportunity to have dinner upstairs and split one of their largely-portioned plates. Bar Urca’s dinner menu is where the influence of the Portuguese lineage really shines through. Try one of the codfish specialties or a shrimp risotto that have helped them earn some of the highest food awards in Rio.

Chico e Alaíde

This always bustling after-beach spot in Leblon was started by Chico and Alaíde who once worked in a restaurant together as waiter (Chico) and chef (Alaíde). In addition to the fact that this laid-back boteco is popular, it is also small, so don't be surprised if you have a little wait. It also shouldn't surprise you if you make a bar full of fast friends in the process. Maybe it's the owner’s friendship that permeates the space that accounts for the convivial vibe. In just four years, Chico and Alaíde already feels like a Rio institution. The food tastes just as established, with a menu comprised of typical bar fare crafted in an anything but typical way. The compulsory house specials like Feijoadinha da Mamãe, Pastel de Siri, and choquinho": huge prawns with catupiry cheese e stringy fried potatoes are delightful. As are the perfectly calibrated sanduíches (sandwiches) like Pernil com Abacaxi (Pork with Pineapple) and Filet Mignon tudo junto (Filet Mignon Beef with garlic, cheese, tomato, and cilantro). Pair one with their consistently ice-cold beer and appreciate the fact that some things just work well together.

Bar Hipódromo

Just about every neighborhood in Rio has a restaurant that become the most emblematic of the area. Usually favored by families during the daytime for lunch and by an adult crowd at night. The bohemian neighborhood of Baixo Gavea, is no different, except there is an entire cluster of restaurants instead of just one. All of them are decent and located close to the jockey club, but Bar Hipódromo is a popular standout. It is one of the originals on the strip and is named after the racetrack across the street. Bar Hipódromo is known for their light and crispy pastels, brazilian pastry dough stuffed with fillings like shrimp, chicken, ground beef or aipim (think empanadas). If you visit during dinner, go for their Carne Grelhada, grilled rump roast echoing the churrascaria style for which Brazil is famous or Picanha fatiada com farofa e fritas, sliced steak with french fries and farofa (toasted manioc flour). Economically priced, a pastel and beer will run you about $6. And in spite of the crowds, the food is ready quickly. If it's night, you can dine inside, then take your beer and join the groups of chill crowds that spill out of the bar into the streets. Just be sure to get there well before 1am, when crowds can no longer gather outside due to a "quiet law" enforced by the neighborhood.

Hippie Fair Ipanema

What started out as a small outdoor market by a group of hippies in 1968, has now turned into a maze of 700 vendors selling everything from clothes to paintings and food. The market's official name is Feira de Artezanato de Ipanema (Handcrafts & Art Fair of Ipanema), but if you're asking a Carioca about the market, call it The Hippie Fair, as it is still known. A great stop if you're looking to pick up something made by local craftsmen. Some cool stand outs are the jewelry, Brazilian musical instruments, and leather bags, shoes and purses (you can even get short leather shorts in bright colors). Fashion designer Giorgio Armani, popularized the handmade leather sandals from the Eron booth, when he bought a pair. There is also an entire gallery section of paintings for sell, often of the local landscape. And make sure to sample some of the food as you walk around. Grab a buttery ear of corn, or a tapioca crepe made with cheese or chocolate from one of the smaller booths. If you like seafood, make sure to stop by the Bahian booth. You can't miss the ladies in head-to-toe white selling acarajé, a type of corn bread fritter stuffed with shrimp or frigideira de bacalhau, similar to a codfish omelette. The market has never missed a Sunday in Praça General Osório since it's inception, but take a cue from the locals and go after 3pm for the deals.


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