Last minute trip to Rio with 2 small children (3 and 6)
We've just decided to take a last minute trip to Rio in a week for spring break and I sadly know nothing about the food and where one should go that will be good for children. We're all pretty adventurous eaters and the children behave generally well. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! We will be staying at the Sheraton Rio which I understand is in Leblon. Happy to travel around town, assuming that it's safe with the 2 kids? Thanks for any help!
You should do a search on this board for Rio, there are many threads that cover the city.
Your hotel is actually in Vidigal, not in Leblon. It will be a short cab ride to Leblon though. Unfortunately it is not really at a place where you can just walk out of there; you will need a car, but the hotel might have a shuttle. It's not really a good area for walking around. It's a good hotel, though.
You can safely travel around Zona Sul (part of Rio where you would want to be anyway). It is safe to walk around Zona Sul and also safe to take cabs and ride the subway. Just avoid wearing jewelry and keep your camera and other electronics inside your bag.
Some food suggestions:
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!
Kilo: try a kilo, you pay buy the weight like in a NYC deli, but the experience is quite different, waiter service, great food. It's a good way to try different Brazilian dishes since it's buffet style; and it is very good for kids as there are plenty of options. It's a very common restaurante style in Rio and you will find them everywhere. A very good kilo is Fronteira, they have in different locations, there is one close to the Hippie Fair in Ipanema, Praca General Osorio. Fellini in Leblon used to be very good, but I haven't been there in a long time.
Ice cream: Mil Frutas - as the name says, 1000 Fruits. You can taste ice cream made with different kinds of tropical fruits. White chocolate and passion fruit is my favorite. They have 2 locations: Rua Garcia D'Avila, Ipanema and Rua J.J. Seabra, Jd Botanico.
Gula-Gula: it's one of my favorite place for a casual meal. They have great desserts and salads. You can also find more hearty dishes there, so it does work for both lunch and dinner. If you go don't miss the petit gateu de doce de leite with tapioca ice cream, one of my favorite desserts. They have different locations and the one in Leblon not too far from your hotel.
Light food/salads: Celeiro in Leblon
Pizza: Cappricciosa and Braz. 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.
Restô: very nice Brazilian nouvelle cuisine bistro in Ipanema
Alessandro e Frederico in Ipanema has very good contemporary food, pizza and antipasto.
Breakfast: La Byciclette (Jd Botanico) e Escola do Pão
Talho Capixaba in Leblon is a great bakery for "salgadinhos" (Brazilian savory snacks) and small bites.
Pão de Queijo: these Brazilian cheese rolls are sold everywhere and you should definitely try them. You can find them in a chain restaurant called Casa do Pão de Queijo, and in many other places.
I am not listing any of the high end places in Rio because that would be difficult with 2 small kids. Although Brazilians tend to be much more tolerant than Americans are about children.
Children menus are not as common in Brazil as they are in the US but Brazilian food is neither too ethnic nor too different to cause you any difficulties. The exception would be for "comida baiana" (food from Bahia) which can be spicy and cooked with ingredients which most people aren't very familiar with (coconut milk, Dendê oil).
I hope that this helps, but do a search. There are other threads worth checking.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. I will search the forum and see if there is anything else I can find. Thankfully my children are generally adventurous eaters and will try most things (especially if there is nothing else!) Will let you know how it goes!
One quick question. Everyone loves juices. Is it safe tto buy juice from the street? Also, is the water safe to drink or should I be buying bottled water all the time (even for tooth brushing?)
You can safely use the tap water to brush your teeth. We do not drink tap water though. You can easily find bottled water to buy and most places also sell individually packed water cups. Brazilians do not really walk around with huge bottles of water the way Americans do :). Yes, it is safe to drink juices in any juice stands and restaurants. I am not sure what you mean when you ask if it is safe to buy juice "from the street". Street sellers usually don't sell juices; but as I said it's pretty much safe to buy from any business that sells juices. Just use your common sense, if the place doesn't look clean go to another one, but in general Brazilian food business are very clean.
We're returning to Rio in September so looking for newer posts as we haven't been back in about a year. So thanks. I will different with you on a couple of points however. As a visitor, I wouldn't dream of driving in Rio!!!!! The bus system is great and taxis aren't ridiculously expensive. For the uninitiated, the traffic in Rio can be quite unnerving. Especially the buses. Regarding water, we drink the water almost all the time. It's perfectly safe but is highly chlorinated so that effects the taste. I take my water bottle, fill it half way and freeze over night. Fill it the rest of the way and I have cold water for quite a while. I don't like the taste of it at room temp however so for bedside water I have bottled on hand. Just my two cents.