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Dec 18, 2012 10:28 AM

cruise ship docking in Rio for Carnaval

First time poster- long time lerker
Wife and I are taking Back to back cruise and stopping in Rio during carnival. Less expensive than hotels. Will be in Rio for 4 nights. Have our tickets for parade on 2/10/2013. Would please like some help in planning dinners and lunches during stay. Moderate to upper end is OK. Have used chowhounds for years planning our trips around the world. Best information comes from this board. By the way, Ship docks downtown, so will have to take taxi's everywhere. Is it to far to go to Lebon or impanema areas.
Thanks all

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  1. You should do a serch for Rio as there are many suggestions in past threads that might be useful for you.

    The docks are not very close to the Zona Sul: Ipanema, Leblon, Copacabana. But without traffic (which is unlikely in Rio, especially during Carnaval) you could make it in a 30 min cab ride. You might also consider using the subway to beat the traffic, but the subway doesn't go until the docks, you would still need a cab or to walk a bit. It should be ok just make sure you don't wear jewelry or carry expensive cameras around your neck.

    As for restaurants there are tons of them. Brazilian food is great and you will likely have very good food. I am going to list some favorites of mine, but it all depends on what your are looking for: romantic, cheap, hip, etc. You didn't give too many paramenters.

    Portuguese/Brazilian: Antiquarius, it's really good, but very old school and considered one of the best restaurants in Rio and IMO it s true... The place is a Rio institution and it has been around for a long time. But Portuguese food can be very unfamiliar to lots of people; an American couple friend of mine hated their signature dish: cod fish with eggs, exactly because of the eggs... But that's Portuguese... It's expensive though.

    Ice Cream: Mil Frutas. They have a store in Ipanema and at Jardim Botanico. You can taste ice cream made with many types of tropical fruits.

    Juices: Brazilian juice stands are amazing. My favorite is a store in Ipanema, Polis Sucos, Rua Maria Quiteria with Rua Visconde de Piraja. Don't miss it! It's also great for sandwiches and a quick lunch. It's a stand-at-the counter type of place and popular after the beach.

    Churrascaria: Porcão. If you want to try the Brazilian rodizio style this is my favorite. They have several locations and the one at Aterro is not far from the docks, but you would still need a cab.

    Gula-Gula: they have in many locations and I really like their food and desserts: the petit-gateaux of doce de leite is great.
    Celeiro: great for salads, Leblon
    Bar Gaspar: at Praca Tiradentes (Downtown) it is great for “galeto” (roasted young chicken), picanha (grilled meat) and very busy at lunch time. You can have a very Brazilian lunch there.
    You should also try one of the many "kilos" for lunch. These are very popular lunch places, you pay buy the weight like in a NYC deli, but the experience is quite different, waiter service, great food and they will range from very simple and inexpensive to more sophisticate. The ones with Brazilian barbecue are more expensive. There are 2 good ones at Praca General Osorio in Ipanema: Fazendola (less expensive) and Frontera (more expensive). Praca General Osorio is where the Hippie Fair is on Sundays; you are likely to go to the Fair, everybody does....

    Cozinha Contemporânea (a kind of "New Brazilian" Cuisine, traditional ingredients with a fancy twist): Restô in Ipaneman, Brasserie Julien at Urca. In this category my favorite would be Aprazivel in Santa Teresa. It's much more expensive than the other 2 but it is very good and has a great view. If you go don't miss the palmito pupunha (fresh hearts of palm).

    French: Olympe. Chef Claude Troisgros is married to a Brazilian and has lived in Rio for a long time. He uses Brazilian ingredients with French technique and all his restaurants are very good. Olympe is the most expensive and I have never been.

    Italian: Fasano al Mare: really high end and expensive; if you want a splurge it's the place to go. I have only been to the one in Sao Paulo and it was quite wonderful. It's the same owner as Gero, another popular Italian restaurant. Gero is also pricey, but not as upscale and as expensive as Fasano. I have been to Gero but long time ago. It's good for people watching and I loved the food but it is the kind of place you can find outside Brasil.
    My favorite Italian would be CT Trattoria from Claude Troisgros in Jardim Botanico.
    Artigiano in Ipanema is also good and less expensive than the above, but they don't take credit cards.

    Pizza: Cappricciosa (Ipanema, Jd Botanico) and Braz (Jardim Botanico). Don't miss Brazilian pizza, it's quite good.

    Try a tapioca. They sell on carts on the street. It's a kind of crepe made with yuca flour. Really tasty. You can also find at the Hippie Fair with other tapioca snacks and food from Bahia.

    Belmonte: for beer and salgadinhos (Brazilan savory snacks). Very crowded, cheap, young crowd. They have in many locations, the one in Lapa is very nice and Lapa is definitely worht a visit.

    Breakfast: La Byciclette (Jd Botanico) e Escola do Pão.

    Well, all the above suggestions are places that I like but I have no idea how they would be during Carnaval. When I lived in Rio I escaped Carnaval like I was running away from the plague :) so I haven't been in Rio during Carnaval in a long, long time. But that's me, I don't like crowds.

    Have fun and report back.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Toot

      What a great writeup!!! We're in Rio once or twice a year and I'll tuck this away for our next trip, probably in May. I wasn't sure where the cruise ships dock so you cleared that up. I'd definitely take a taxi from the ship to the closest subway station. I know the Metro now goes to Gen. Osorio but don't think it's past there. But from there (which is right at the Hippie Fair, it's an easy walk to Copacabana and down Ipanema. Leblon a little farther but we've walked it. Buses are easy to get around on also.

      In addition to all your great recs, as you point out, it's easy to search this board. Just put Rio in the top, right box.

      Again, thanks for some great tips.

    2. thank you toot. Great respose. I will study your recommendations and generosity of your personal comments. The cab sounds like the ideal mode of travel. Any idea of the cost for a taxi from the docks to ipanema?
      We will be spending 5 days in Buenos aries prior to Rio. Will become a major carnivor at that time. Will be inclined to visit your recs on Brazilian foods. Once again thank you for your time and input.

      8 Replies
      1. re: mort3431

        If I am not mistaken the ships dock at Praça Mauá. This is very close to downtown and you can easily walk to the subway during the day but I wouldn't recommend walking at night as downtown gets really empty at night. I am also not sure about the day walk since it will be Carnaval, business will be closed and might be very empty too, you should ask at the docks and they would know. By the way, Praça Mauá is very close to Rio oldest church, Mosteiro de São Bento. It's a beautiful example of Brazilian baroque art and worth a visit; they have Gregorian chant at their 10 am Sunday mass.

        As for the taxi fare, cabs are not very expensive in Rio. From Praça Mauá to Ipanema without traffic it might be around R$30-40 which is about 20 USD.

        Another good place for food is Barra Shopping, it's a mall at the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood. That would be a really long cab ride but you might be in a tour bus at some point that goes there. The mall has a really nice food court. Brazilian malls food courts are very good, it's nothing like an American mall.

        Make sure you have a pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese rolls) with a espresso, you can find those anywhere, but Casa do Pão de Queijo has a good one; they are everywhere.

        1. re: Toot

          As before, a great post. BUT I'm gonna differ with you and not recommend Barra Shopping. When we were furnishing our apt, we went there regularly (it's a really beautiful bus ride) and it's a mall. A really big mall. Yes, we ate there occasionally but it was because we were there and it was lunchtime. Too much wonderful food in the Rio area to get that far afield. And, yes, it's quite a haul. Just my two cents :)

          1. re: c oliver

            Yes, Barra Shopping is not a destinaton place for food, but if one wants to go shopping it is a good option, especially during Carnaval, and there are good restaurants there like Gula-Gula. I guess my point is that mall food in Rio is not necesseraly bad the way it is in most US malls where you would have Mc Donald's, KFC and if you are lucky a Cheesecake Factory :). Barra Shopping has better options than that, and other malls like Sao Conrado Fashion Mall have really good places like CT Brasserie.

            1. re: Toot

              Totally agree re mall food. We went to Rio Sul Shopping a number of times when furnishing our apt. and, while I believe McDs was there, that was the exception. Also ate a KFC in Copa a couple of times (we were there 3-1/2 months so sometimes fast food was what was called for) and it's served on real plates with metal flatware. And they bus the tables :)

          2. re: Toot

            If you go to Academia da Cachaça in Leblon, they are making wonderful "Pão de Queijo de Tapioca". They use tapioca instead of polvilho doce, and also use queijo da canastra and they are amazing! I think they feel lighter than the regular pão de queijo, which I also love. It was on their special menu - hope they keep it on the regular menu!!!

            1. re: akibr

              Hate to admit that we haven't been there...yet. I guess I didn't realize that they have food. Drinking cachaca without food is a dangerous thing. For me anyway :) Hope to be back in a few months and now have another place to hit. BTW, thanks everyone for this thread. Lots of new info.

              1. re: c oliver

                Academia da Cachaça not only have prized cachaças, they also make plenty of cachaça drinks aside from the usual caipirinha/caipiroska(vodka) with a variety of fruits. But not much of a beer choice (I think they carry Stella Artois).
                I love Cocada Geladinha(a coconut frozen batida with cachaça R$12), Paçoca do Beco(sweet grounded peanut with cachaça R$8) and Brasil ao Cubo(one ice cube of lime juice, another ice cube of passion fruit juice, and a third ice cube of "jabuticaba" berry juice with cachaça - as it melts, gives you a nice drink. R$12). The portion of "pão de queijo de tapioca" was about R$16.
                Also, a good thing to order is the "escondidinho de carne seca"(jerked beef, manioc puree, cheese au gratin). I have not eaten that last time, so I don't know how much it is. I would guess it is around R$19, but I am not sure.
                For other foods and beverage lists, you can check:
                But, no prices listed.

                1. re: akibr

                  That "Cubo" drink sounds amazing. I need to get going planning our next trip.

        2. thanks Toots amd Oliver.
          So much to do and eat in such a short time. Our initial plan on the 10th(day of arrival) is to take a 4 hour tour of the city (includes sugar loaf) in am. Then spend the rest of day in one area. We leave for Carnival Parade around 8PM. Do u think going to a block party while walking around would be fun and Safe? Would like to break up day into 4hr incruments for sight seeing. This way we can find loads of places to sample the food.
          Thanks again.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mort3431

            Yes, the Blocos are safe, no worries. As for the fun, it's not my type of thing so I am not the best to judge :)

            1. re: Toot

              hi Toot,
              Planning on cruise tour on Sunday a.m. around sugarloaf and central. Finish around 12:30pm. Leaves 1-4 free. Leave for Carnival Parade around 7:30P.M. Figure it should last till 2A.M. Monday afternoon go to Impanema for the day. Tuesday go to Copacabana for the day. Thursday take another ship tour of favelas and statue of christ. We leave at 10Pm Thursday night. Should we try and fit in one of the practice sessions of a samba school? We will fill in the eating portion from your list.
              Thanks for your help, really appreciate the input. If u think of something we should really do- please let us know. We could rent a car and driver for 4 hours, but it is alittle expensive. (over $500 US).

              1. re: mort3431

                Can you do Corcavado withouth the favelas? Don't know why anyone wants to see slums. And it's always seemed more than a little 'icky' to stare at some really unfortunate (not all) people and living conditions. Not Chow-related but I'll toss that in anyway. Santa Teresa would be a lovely option. Nice tram ride and some good food.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Couldn't agree more, I don't really get the favela tour thing. Sta Teresa would be great, nice views and great food. I am not sure about the tram though, it might be still out of service. Aprazivel in Sta Teresa is really good, but expensive, it's worthy in my opinion but there are cheaper options too.

                  1. re: Toot

                    We haven't been to Santa Teresa is a few years. Didn't know about the tram. It was a fun outing. Don't remember where we ate. May have been a CH rec.

          2. thanks for the idea of visiting Santa Teresa . Logistically, looks like it would work. Can incorporate the touring toward the early evening from Copa.

            1. We did a similar cruise in 2012. The parades are a superb experience! First, during Carnaval, it takes at least twice as long as during normal times to go anywhere by taxi. Some people on our cruise had to get out of their taxis and walk back to the ship in order to get there in time for the bus to the parades. Second, the parades start at 9 p.m. We left after 6 parades at 5:30 am. On Sunday, there are 7 parades. Each parade lasts 80 minutes plus the cleanup time between parades. Third, may I suggest a pair of earplugs? The music is fantastic but relentless.

              I second whoever recommended Porcao. Also the restaurant in Santa Teresa on the hillside. If you want to walk around at night, check with some of the staff on the ship. Most of them get out and around in a group, walking, to the smaller venues and festivities.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sallen

                Thanks for your take on the all night Carnival. I haven't been but my husband has and,yes, it's all night, at least two nights in a row.

                Regarding Porcao, I guess one should have the experience once. We did and won't do it again. It's so Brazilian but IMO the quality of all the meats simply isn't there. But it's fun and worth a visit. An expensive visit.