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Rio de Jainero, Trancoso and other areas nearby

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My good friend is getting married to a Brazilian woman in Trancoso in a couple of months (yey!). My husband and I are really excited to go to the weeding and to explore the area. We are will likely be staying at the Villas de Trancoso for about 4 days and need a few suggestions for getting around, where to eat, the best beaches, etc.

We will also be going to Rio de Janeiro for a few days before flying to Porto Seguro airport for the wedding. Any suggestions in Rio would also be awesome. We have not picked a hotel yet but most likely we'll be staying in Ipanema or Leblon. This is our first trip to Brazil and total time spent there will be around 9 days.

Thank you guys!

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  1. As you can tell probably, this board doesn't get a ton of traffic but here's a recent thread with some really good sounding places:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9674...

    If you just type in rio de janeiro in the search field you'll get more. And the older threads aren't necessarily out of date. If you have questions about particular places, then hopefully someone can help you out.

    2 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Thanks c oliver, I appreciate the heads up. It's too bad there isn't a lot of action on this board. Latin America is so beautiful I really wish people would post about their experiences more often. I'll take a look at the link you sent me as far as Rio suggestions.

      1. re: citykid426

        Hi guys,

        I just wanted to report back regarding our trip.

        Rio was absolutely gorgeous and we had amazing weather. We ended up staying at the Fasano hotel, which was pricey but well worth it and had an amazing rooftop pool/bar area. Good location as well (Ipanema).

        I was not really fond of any particular place in Ipanema for food, but my favorite closest restaurant was CT Boucherie (in Leblon, the next neighborhood over and a 10 min. cab ride). The meat was first class and there were tons of good sides (unlimited). See below for more info.

        Note: I would recommend that people visiting Rio do not eat anywhere on the beach in the touristic areas. The food is not very good and is way to expensive for what you get...

        The best part of Rio was that we went on a very intimate food tour with a guy who took us to places we never would have gone to on our own. Amazing! Rio is a great city but unfortunately hardly anyone speaks English. It was great having someone who speaks Portuguese with us who could translate and make suggestions re: food. We were the only two people on the tour (2 others cancelled last minute) so it was a real treat. Price was very reasonable considering we were with our guide for 5 hours and the food/drinks were included. We had such a good time talking to him and getting to know more about the history and the food culture of Rio.

        Here are a few dishes we had and restaurants we went to, plus more recommended by Tom, our tour guide (an expat living in Rio and married to a Brazilian). Here is the link to his website: http://eatrio.net/eat-rio-food-tours

        1. Bolinhos de bacalhau (salt cod and potato croquettes) with Suco de abacaxi com hortelã (pineapple juice with mint) at Nova Capella restaurant in Lapa.

        2. Tapioca (tapioca pancake), Manga Palmer (Palmer Mango), Sapoti (round, brown fruit that tastes like dates), Jabuticaba (berries that grow out of the trunk of the tree!), Caldo de Cana (sugarcane juice with lime) at the Lapa farmers market (Sundays only I believe). There are several stands there where you can buy food and drinks.

        3. Tacacá (the Amazonian soup) and Amazon beer at Tacaca do Norte in Flamengo.

        4. Cachaça de Jambu, Cupucaçú juice and Jambucy (a tingly spirit and a fruit juice mixed together) courtesy of our guide Tom's bartending skills. We had all the ingredients from the farmers market and he mixed everything and made us drinks.

        4. Pastels (deep-fried pastry parcels); Carne seca com abobora e feijão corda (air-dried, salted beef with pumpkin and beans); Moqueca de peixe (stew of fish made with coconut milk, peppers and palm oil); Theresopolis Gold (pilsner beer brewed in a town one hour north of Rio); and Caipirinha de jabuticba e limão (jabuticaba and lime caipirinhas) at a restaurant whose name escapes me right now... but send me a message and I can look into it or go to Tom's website for more info.

        5. Adega Perola restaurant in Copacabana for seafood dishes sold by the kilo (fresh and excellent quality).

        6. Bolinhos de Bacalhau, aka salt-cod croquettes, at Pavao Azul in Copacabana (walking distance from the Adega Perola). It was really crowded when we went and there were no English menus, but I read about this place on our tour guide's website and knew what to order ahead of time. The waiters were friendly and tried to be as helpful as possible even though we could barely communicate (I only knew a few Portuguese phrases). If you are polite, smile, and at least make an attempt to speak Portuguese (not Spanish, as some tourists do!), people are generally nice and will be accommodating.

        Meat Restaurants (again from Tom of Eat Rio Food Tour):

        1. Porcão: Probably the biggest and considered one of the best churrascarias in that style that everyone knows. You pay a single price (around R$95) and then eat as much as you like (or as much as you can!). You sit in a large hall and an army of waiters visit you at regular intervals offering up all kinds of different cuts of (mainly) beef, but also some other meats. The food is excellent and it’s definitely a fun experience, but it’s not exactly personalized dining and afterwards you will be absolutely stuffed! If you prefer a slightly cheaper option in the heart of Ipanema (which is still really excellent), try Carretão, right on Praça General Osório.

        2. Majorica: This is a traditional, local place to eat meat. The interior is kind of old fashioned and a bit dark, but the meat is excellent. You can ask the waiter to show you the different cuts they have on offer (kept in a glass fronted counter next to the huge grill) and pick out the one you like best. The format is more like a traditional restaurant – no ‘all you can eat’ option.

        3. CT Boucherie: Tom reviewed this place on his site and we went here based on his recommendation. We were not disappointed!! It's excellent. According to him they have THE best beef in Rio and he's probably right.

        A twist on the traditional churrascaria rodizio format (waiters on rotation offering you meat) is that you order your meat and then the waiters offer you unlimited (and delicious!) side orders to eat alongside your chosen meat. This place is modern, stylish and not cheap.

        Seafood:

        1. Sobrenatural - this is a low-key kind of place in Santa Teresa. The stand-out dish is Sopa Leão Veloso, a kind of Brazilian version of Bouillabaisse.

        2. Bar Urca - lovely place to go on a sunny day. It's quite close to the Sugarloaf Mountain and they do delicious shrimp pastel and a really yummy seafood broth (caldinho de frutos do mar). See the review on Tom's website. Upstairs- the actual restaurant where you can order the camarão na moranga, aka whole pumpkin with shrimp stew inside.

        As far as Trancoso, I would recommend that anyone considering visiting this area seriously prepare for a bit of trek getting there. You really need at least 4-5 days here. We had to take two planes plus drive for about an hour to get to our hotel, the Tangara (right next to Villas de Trancoso). The hotels in general are a little more low key but very warm and welcoming. No, you can't find the Ritz, the Hilton, or anything like that. It's mostly family run places. The main tourist area is called the "Quadrado", which is a little courtyard in the town where a lot of restaurants are located. Beware: the prices in this area are crazy expensive, on par with Sao Paolo or Rio. Apparently, a lot of well-to-do folks from the big cities visit Trancoso and it's sort of a supply/demand kind of situation. Be prepared to pay up!

        We liked Silvahna's in the Quadrado a lot. They had fish wrapped in banana leaf which was delicious. They also had moqueca, which is a kind of stew made of various seafood (sometimes just fish, sometimes mixed seafood, it depends). Moqueca is a very popular dish in this part of Brazil and is worth trying. It comes with farofa (tapioca powder which usually had some kind of protein in it, like egg) and rice on the side generally. Most restaurants and hotels will also have it.

        Restaurant o Cacao- also in the Quadrado; delicious fish and excellent caipirinhas. I cannot speak as to their a la carte menu because our friends hosted a big dinner party here and all the food drinks were included.

        Capim Santo- Chef Sandra Marques, a São Paulo émigré, runs this place and cooks great fish dishes like salmon in leek sauce with black rice. Like everything else in the town, it's on the pricey side.

        El Gordo- a chic place straight out of South Beach. The bar serves 50+ varieties of cachaça and has a seafood-focused menu. The panoramic clifftop views are also what a lot of people like to come here for.

        Delicia da Praça- Locate them in or around the Quadrado for delicious sweet and savory tapiocas (it's a stand).

        Sabor da Bahia- One of the first restaurants when you enter the Quadrado, they serve Brazilian ‘Picanha’ with toasted vegetables, pineapple and french fries. They also have good homemade yogurt.

        Uxua- Bahian cooking with a very regional emphasis. Ingredients include produce from their own garden and other organic farms of Trancoso, as well as fresh fish caught using traditional techniques. You can eat at the poolside restaurant or beach lounge, or be seated at a rustic table on the Quadrado.

        Cantinho Doce- Bahian cuisine, this place is right by the main church in the square. Leave room for thei famed doces (desserts), which are renowned throughout the village.

        Portinha- Per kilo buffet restaurant also at the Quadrado.

        We also went to Espelho beach, about an hour's drive from our Trancoso hotel. It was very beautiful but, again, quite a trek. The roads in this area of Brazil are VERY bumpy. Once we got there it was paradise, but a friend told me that there was no hope of getting the roads fixed because the locals prefer them that way and want to keep tourists from invading their space.

        Anyway, I hope this helps. If anyone has any specific questions, drop me a line!