Rio de Janeiro Dining
Going out for a meal can be a very special moment when we travel. Rio caters to all tastes, and exploring the city's restaurants is definitely to be included on your list of things to do. Ipanema, Leblon, Copacabana, and Leme concentrate many of the best restaurants, cafes, and snack bars. Our guide will help you find the right options by cuisine and by area, with capsule reviews of the most popular venues. Feel free to print and bring along the pages you may need.
Eating out in Rio is not an expensive experience. Even at the sophisticated restaurants there are dishes around US$15. A bottle of mineral water or soda goes for less than US$1, domestic beer or draft less than US$2. Expect to spend per person from US$5 to US$15 at budget restaurants and snack bars, and from US$20 to US$35 at more sophisticated restaurants. If you really work at it and order a bottle of imported wine or champagne, appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert, you may be looking at US$80 and up.
Some restaurants do not take credit cards. Ask first, to avoid any embarrassment. Check the menus outside, before you go in. If the restaurant does not have some display with the price list (it's the law), be ready for a big surprise. The additional 10% you see at the bottom of the bill is not the tax, it's the tip. You may round up, or give a little extra if service was outstanding. If the tip is not included, give at least 10%. Locals double-check the bill, and ask when they do not understand or agree with some detail. Proceed likewise.
Waiters will not bring you iced water with the menu. Order a bottle of sparkling or non-sparkling Brazilian mineral water, which is of excellent quality. Cariocas often drink fruit juices with their meals, and they are always fresh-squeezed. Restaurants used filtered ice, so you do not have to fish the cubes out with your spoon (yikes!). Do not be paranoid, indulge. Be suspicious of steakhouse waiters that insist on offering you some pink fruit cocktail or liqueur from a tray. They are not complimentary!
Most restaurants start with a couvert (coo-vert). It usually consists of a basket with bread, rolls, and assorted spreads. At better restaurants expect real treats (see Italian). The couvert is not complimentary, and it's charged per person. If you're trying to save, you could try asking for a single couvert and share. Cariocas will not leave without a cup of coffee or expresso. Brazilian coffee is very strong, very black, and very good. Do give it a try. Enjoy the caffeine buzz, and go for a walk along the beach to help digestion.