Brazil - 28 days and no clue where to get some good chow!
I'm embarking on a sort of backpacking adventure in Brazil for the entire month of August with my bf. The places we're planning on visiting are:
Rio di Janeiro
Does anyone have recommendations as to where we should eat in any of these places? As two students, we are on a budget but we are prepared to splurge a little on a few *special* meals (our anniversary falls in August though we will be floating down the Amazon on the actual day of). Any and all ideas are more than appreciated!!!
One of the places you could splurge on is Mario's Crustaceos in Rio. And when in Rio, I would suggest searching out some food from Minas Gerais since you will not be visiting there. Other than that snack and drink choppe at local places. If you head out towards Nitteroi there are a lot of places that have beef ribs (costela), some better than others. I also greatly enjoyed the Feira Nordestina at Sao Cristovao, which has music, food, shopping (more expensive than the northeast itself).
In Sao Paulo you should definately try as many fresh pastel as you possibly can at local fairs. Its a continental city, so if you splurge here it would probably be a big splurge. Its also so large its hard to give recommendations. The Jardins is nice for lunch... and Sao Paulo has excellent Japanese food but that probably isn't what you went to Brazil for. There also is music every night of the week -- so find a place with live music and food (as opposed to just a discotec). Vila Madalena, Pinheiros, and Moema all have possibilities.
For Bahia, I would personally go to Morro de Sao Paulo or Porto Seguro (more of a party town) over Salvador. In Salvador, however, I really enjoyed the Rio Vermelho neighborhood. There is both street acaraje and also the restaurant of Dinha (who had a street shack for a long time) which is excellent and much cheaper than having Bahian food in Rio or SP.
Fortaleza you must go to the fair on the beach... and you can get fresh lobster directly from the fishermen steamed. Aside from that I mostly ate in local bars and the food was good. Grilled ears of corn on the street are great.
Manaus is best known for its nightlife, but there are lots of local fish, treats, and soups. Not certain how to orient you there, but enjoy!
I think that there is easy to find good food in Salvador. Here's a link to a website with descriptions of some of the better places to eat.
Of those on the list I have been to a few and they were very, very good. I liked the churrascaria Boi Preto which while a small chain was the best churrascaria I have been to out of a half dozen in Brazil and the same amount in the US.
Cruz do Pascoal is the type of place you only find out about from locals.
In addition the Japanese place near the harbor called SoHo is very good. I had tempura so good it tied with the best in Japan and robotoyaki and steak that blew me away. They make killer caipirinhas and the view is great.
I also agree about Morro de Sao Paulo on Tinharé island out in the bay. It's about a 2 hour boat ride from Salvador (make sure you take the "fast" boat or small plane which is much faster and gentler) and the island has no cars, the taxi service are guys with wheelbarrows. It's a very Euro style vacation place and the nightime beach parties are wild. There are very good and inexpensive restaurants and pousadas (inns). I especially liked the pousadas at third, fourth, and fifth beaches. There are no party spots on third, fourth and fifth beaches like you have on first and most especially second beach, so you can sleep in quiet. Some of them have fantastic breakfast buffets that blew me away. All kinds of fresh fruit, meats, veggies, as well as homemade yogurts, juices, drinks, breads and pastries, etc. I liked the buffet best at the pousada run by the Italians, I think it is the last pousada on thrid beach before the empty stretch to fourth beach.
Portuguese/Brazilian: Antiquarius, it's really good, but expensive... But the dollar is still strong in Brazil and it may be worht the splurge.
Icecream: Mil Frutas - as the name says, 1000 Fruits. You can taste icecream made with different kinds of tropical fruits. White chocolate with passion fruit is my favorite. They have 2 locations: Rua Garcia D'Avila (Ipanema) and Rua J.J. Seabra (Jardim Botanico). Don't miss it!
Try a tapioca - it's a kind of crepe, they sell on carts on the street, the filling can me either savory or sweet. Mil Frutas also has it on their breakfast menu.
Juices: Brazilian juice stands are amazing. My favorite is a store in Ipanema, Rua Maria Quiteria with Rua Visconde de Piraja. Don't miss it!
Kilo: try a kilo, you pay buy the weight like in a NYC deli, but the experience is quite different, waiter service, great food. Fellini and da Silva are my favorites. It's a good way to try different Brazilian dishes since it's buffet style and it's inexpensive.
Cozinha Contemporanea (a kind of "New Brazilian" Cuisine, traditional ingredients with a fancy twist): Carlota (try the cupuaçu mousse or the goiabada soufle for dessert!)
Go to a Botequim after the beach, as the cariocas do: Bracarense and Manuel e Joaquim are 2 good options. You can have salgadinhos (Brazilian savory snacks) and beer. Manuel e Joaquim has dinner too. Bracarense is located in Leblon and Manuel e Joaquim has different locations in the city.
Italian: Fratelli in Leblon and Artigiano in Ipanema are inexpensive and very good.
Seafood: Satyricon, avoid Tia Palmira used to be good, but went downhill.
Drinks: Academia da Cachaça, Leblon. You can taste different kinds of cachaça, the liquor we make caipirinhas and batidas with.
SAO PAULO SUGGESTIONS
The best restaurant in Sao Paulo IMO is Fasano. The new space (well, not so new anymore...) is gorgeous, although very modern, and both the food and the service are great. It's expensive but with the dollar still relatively strong in Brazil you will get a pretty good deal for a restaurant of this level.
Some other options:
Massimo - also Italian, old school. It's considered one of the best restaurants in Sao Paulo. I went there only once as a teen and I remember having a great meal. It's also expensive
D.O.M.- very good, it's the kind of cuisine people are calling "cozinha contemporanea". I would say it's a kind of "New Brazilian" where the chef uses traditional ingredients with a fancy twist. Also similar to D.O.M. there is Carlota, famous for her goiabada soufle dessert.
Sao Paulo is a great place to eat, enjoy it!
If you are strolling in the Oscar Freire area (which you probably will because it's a nice area for shopping, people watching...) during the day get an espresso and a Pao de Queijo (Brazilian cheese rolls) at Pao De Queijo Hadock Lobo.
The best moqueca (fish stew) I ever had was at Paraiso Tropical in Salvador. I believe they have 2 locations, I went to the one in Rio Vermelho. It was really good.
Maria Mata-Mouro at Pelourinho is another good option.
Trapiche Adelaide is a fancier and more expensive suggestion. It has a beautiful view and beautiful room, but it's expensive. I had a great meal there 2 years ago.
Lucky you! I was in Rio in May and thought the food was absolutely top notch and cheap. I strongly recommend Sobrenatural in Santa Teresa, which serves delicious and unusual fish dishes in a very lively, pleasant setting. Bracarense in Leblon is very cheap and lots of fun, lots of delicious little tapas and caipirinhas. We had one blowout meal at Zuka in Leblon, which was excellent, but felt more like the kind of place you'd find in the US. Have fun!
Second that emotion for Porcåo as a churrascaria worth visiting. Their side dish selection is superior, and it is quite a scene. I found the meats to be better at Restaurant Marius, on the Copacabana side.