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Jul 19, 2011 05:48 PM

Brazil and Argentina Trip Report Part 1 - Rio de Janeiro

My husband and I are on day 3 of our month long vacation in the 2 countries. First stop was Rio de Janeiro, where we spent 2 full days doing touristy stuff amidst finding stuff to eat. Most of the eating was concentrated in Ipanema, as Arpoador, where we stayed had fewer options. Thoughts on a few places:
1. We had breakfast at Terzetto Cafe in Ipanema and the famous Confeiteria Colombo in Centro. Loved the bread and viennoiseries at both places, fresh, warm and at Terzetto varied. Good cappuccino at Terzetto and if the drinks were not as good, the atmosphere at Confeiteria Colombo more than made up. We were in Centro on Monday, and given the lack of museums to visit, Colombo became the cultural and historical highlight of the day! We thought the breakfasts were expensive: BRL 18 at Terzetto for the Ejecutivo (coffee, juice, a basket of about 6 rolls, ham and cheese slices etc), BRL 25 at Colombo (coffee, juice,milk, toast, demi-baguette, cut fruits, ham and cheese slices etc) but 1 portion fed the 2 of us easily.
2. Casa da Feijoada: Given we missed Saturday lunch (thank you Air France for rescheduling our flight) we sought out Feijoada at Casa da Feijoada, that served the speciality everyday, with all the trimmings. We ordered only one portion (BRL 67) but that was more than enough for the 2 of us. We had the normal version, ie without the "noble" pig parts, and thought it was meat infused bean stew was really tasty. The meat's (sausages, ribs, dried meat) wasn't bad too. Loved the chicharron and manioc flour that added lots of crunch to the dish. Meal comes with a bean soup and some olives to start, crisp fried sausages and a plate with 3 dollops of sugary paste (dulce de leche, papaya and banana) for dessert.
3. Benkei Sushi: I've not had sushi for more than 3 months and thought I'd give the Japanese restaurants in Rio a try. Benkei Sushi serves both ala carte and rodizio for dinner. The selection for the rodizio was quite varied but we were disappointed by the quality of the fish for the sushi and sashimi. Not quite unfresh, but quite bland in taste, and you could tell the texture was starting to turn. The cooked handrolls were quite tasty though, so were the fried snacks (bolinhos, gyoza etc). Should've known not to go to an AYCE place.
4. Sucos: Juice shops are as ubiquitous as Havaianas flip flops and Zona Sul supermarkets in Ipanema. Great places to try local fruit juices. Acai is pure sugar, and an instant energy booster, and we love acerola, goiaba and all the rest! Some juice and pao de queijo = worthy after beach snack.

We are now in Sao Luis, going to Barreirinhas, Salvador and Curitiba next. Recommendations for local specialities highly appreciated!

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  1. No lack of museums in downtown Rio. One of the best museums in the city is very close to the Colombo you went, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes. You could have also visited the beautiful Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) and Teatro Municipal. And also the various churches, where some of Brazil's best art can be found: Mosteiro do Sao Bento, Santo Antonio, Sao Francisco da Penitencia. All very close to where you were. Well, perhaps for next visit.

    As for food in Salvador don't miss the moqueca (fish stew) at Paraiso Tropical. Also Trapiche Adelaide used to be a wonderful, high end restaurant, not sure if it is still around of it is still good, but you should check. I had an amazing meal there.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Toot

      Hi Toot, thanks for the response. I definitely did not suggest that Rio did not have enough museums for me, just that they were all closed on Monday =)
      Thanks for your suggestions in Salvador. Will definitely not miss moqueca. What order Bahian specialities and where should I try them?

      1. re: xigua

        Bahia has a very different cuisine. Most of the food is cooked with dende oil, which some people will hate it... But for those who like it, it is a very interesting cuisine. Some of the famous dishes: bobo de camarao (shrimp stew with yuca flour), acaraje (fried black eye peas croquette filled with shrimp), abara (steamed black eye peas croquette), vatapa (fish and shrimp stew), cocada (coconut dessert).
        You can try acaraje and abara from the many different baianas (street seller women) in town. You can find them all over, and the famous ones are at Rio Vemelho squares (Regina, for abaras in Largo do Santana and Cira for acaraje at Largo da Mariquita).

        It looks like the place I mentioned, Trapiche Adelaide is gone... too bad it was good, but I haven't been in Salvador in more than 5 years. It looks like Salvador best high end nowadays is Amado.
        Another place that used to be quite good was Maria Mata Mouro at Pelourinho. Also in Pelourinho there is the famous "Sorriso da Dada" which is famous for the moqueca, but I much prefered Paraiso Tropical.

        The best bahian food place according to the Brazilian equivalent to Zagat is Yeamanja. And for Brazlian food, not only from Bahia, the best is Dona Mariquita.

        1. re: Toot

          Hi Toot,
          I finally have time to sit down and recap our eating adventures in Salvador and Curitiba! We did in fact try both moqueca and acaraje but not superlative versions. From what the locals tell us, both Yemanja and Ki-Mukeka do the best moquecas these days and loads of locals hang out at Rio Vermelho in the evenings for acaraje. We did enjoy what we had, and it was doubly fun to eat acaraje in Pelourinho on Tuesday evenings and then proceed to enjoy the live music on the steps of Ladeiro do Carmo. We also had our requisite churrascharia experience at Boi Preto, and the quality of meat, buffet and service was excellent.
          Curitiba was not a very interesting city to visit and eat per se. The only place of highlight was the gastronomic belt of Santa Felicidade (on the tourist bus route), where we visited the largest restaurant in Brazil called Madalosso. Its Italian, quick, cheap and quite tasty. Not a gourmet experience by any stretch, though enjoyable nonetheless.
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