The Rio de Janeiro Botequim
The Best places to Eat, Drink & Relax!
A Botequim, in addition to serving excellent chopp (draft beer) and freshly made Caipirinhas (Brazil's national drink), can also be a great place to eat superb traditional Brazilian food. Many botequins also serve pizza, so it's easy to see why these bar/restaurants are so popular.
However, the best food to order in a botequim may be the pestiscos (appetizers), and each restaurant has its specialty. There are a wide variety of pestiscos available, including espetinhos de carne (small skewers of grilled meat), empadas (meat pastries), batatas fritas (french fries), fried camarão (shrimp), and the famous bolinho de bacalhau (deep fried cod fish balls).
On the 8th day God created the humble Pastel. There probably isn't a person alive in Brazil who hasn't eaten one of these wonderful appetizers. There is no equal to this very light crescent shaped pastry that's filled with ground beef, palmito, cheese, or chicken, and then lightly deep fried. Pasteis (the plural of Pastel) are more common in São Paulo than in Rio de Janeiro, but any respectable botequim will have these delights on the menu.
If there are just 2 snacks you will eat during your visit to Rio, make it an order of bolinhos de bacalhau and pasteis!
Our Favorite Botequins in Rio de Janeiro
Botequim do Itahy - $$
Location - Ipanema at Rua Barao da Torre, 334, at the corner of Rua Joana Angelica. They have an indoor restaurant of the same name on the other end of the block on Rua Maria Quiteria, which has the same menu.
Botequim do Itahy is a classic Ipanema neighborhood haunt, located on a tree lined street across from the city park Nossa Senora da Paz. It's an open air seating restaurant which is popular all year around, and the place is packed on weekends. Portuguese tiles cover the walls and pillars that hold up the low ceiling. Wrought iron railings separate the diners from the street. When it's busy the waiters will set tables up on the sidewalk. The ambiance in the evening at Itahy can't be beat.
Itahy is blessed with long tenured and skilled waiters (ask for Vava) who keep careful watch over the restaurant to make sure its patrons don't go hungry or thirsty. The chopp here is cold and excellent, and the wine selection is also pretty good.
Itahy serves a wide variety of high quality Brazilian food for reasonable prices. Most popular is The Picanha Churrasco, which is grilled by the waiter at your table side, and includes sausage, french fried potatoes, farofa, and rice.
Also popular is the thin crust pizza, which is offered in many varieties. Try the "Mista" pizza which includes calabresa (Italian sausage), presunto (ham), azeitona (olives), cebola (onions), and oregano. Why pay more at one of the upscale Bistros when you can get equally delicious pizza at Itahy?
Itahy also serves excellent pestiscos for about $R 8, including Pasteis and Bolinhos do Bacalhau.
Insider's Tip - The "single" serving of Picanha Churrasco (steak) costs about $R 38, and easily serves 2 people. The double portion will serve 4 people. This is a classic Botequim meal and is one of the most affordable steak dinners that you will find in Rio.
Devassa - $$
Location - Leblon at Av. General San Martin 1241, in Ipanema at Rua Visconde de Pirajá 539, and Rua Prudente de Moraes, 416.
Devassa started years ago in Leblon and is still a classic watering hole. In recent years it has added locations in other Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods and has expanded its menu. The food is really quite average, but the hamburgers and various lunch plates (pratos) are inexpensive and reliably decent.
Devassa is locally famous for their chopp, which is probably the best in Rio and is simply outstanding. Devassa brews their own beer and has 5 varieties, including Loura (a blond pilsner), Ruiva (a light pale ale), Negra (a dark or "escura" ale), India (India pale ale), and Sarara (wheat beer). Try a "Mulatta" which is a blend of Negra and Loura chopp. Just tell your waiter "Eu quero uma Mulatta !", and he'll know exactly what you want... :>
Link to Devassa Website
Garota de Ipanema- $$
Location - Ipanema at Rua Vinicius de Moraes 49. Just one block from the beach.
This is the botequim where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes wrote their most famous song "The Girl from Ipanema", for which the botequim is now named. Legend has it that a "..tall and tan and young and lovely girl from Ipanema went walking.." by the bar on her way to the beach, while these 2 Bossa Nova songwriters/poets drank beer in the late morning. (they were Bohemians after all..) The songwriters were "inspired" by watching her walk, and the rest is history.
The best time to stop at Garota de Ipanema is after leaving the beach on your way back to your hotel or apartment. Hang out with the rest of the sunburnt Gringos drinking cold chopp and eating pestiscos (appetizers). The food here is pretty good but not worth going too far out of your way for.
The ambiance at Garota de Ipanema can't be beat, and no visit to Rio de Janeiro is really complete without stopping here.
Botequim Informal- $$
Locations - Copacabana at Rua Domingos Ferreira 215; in Ipanema at Rua Barao da Torre 348, in Leblon at Rua Conde de Bernadete 26,and other locations in the city.
Botequim Informal opened its first location in the Leblon neighborhood in 2000, and has since opened 12 other locations throughout the city. Botequim Informal's claim to fame is the unique method they use to brew and pour their pilsner chopp,which has a light body and creamy foam (espuma). They actually pour the beer from one tap into the glass, and then pour just the creamy foam into the top of the glass from different tap. This results in a pleasant surprise to the first time visitor to this botequim, and makes for a great "combination" chopp on a sweltering day in Rio.
Botequim Informal is built in the style of other "modern" botequins that are popping up all over the city, with a covered open air bar and table seating. Dark wood interiors give this place a old time feel in a modern beach front city.
The dinner menu is fairly extensive, but it's their pestiscos that are really fantastic. Their large and freshly made Pastel may just be the best of the "chain" botequins in Rio de Janeiro. They offer a wide variety of Pasteis (ground beef, cheese, Crab, shrimp, and jerked beef, and mixes). The Bolinhos (deep fried balls) are also tasty and varied such as bacalhau (cod), and Bolinho de Aipim (made from a tubor similar to mandioca) with several different fillings including shrimp, cheese, and jerked beef (carne seca).
On a rainy day try a cup of the local favorite, Caldinho de Feijao, which is a puree of bean broth topped with with pork rinds and parsley.
Link to Botequim Informal website
Conversa Fiada- $$
Locations - Leblon at Rua Ataulfo de Paiva, 90; and in Ipanema at Rua Vinicius de Morais, 75; and 3 other locations in Rio.
Conversa Fiada is another in the line of newly created "old style" botequins in Rio. the expression "conversa fiada" translates to "making small talk". The atmosphere here is pleasant and relaxing. The chopp is pretty standard as is the food. The service can be spotty and this place is best to stop for a cold beer on the way back from the beach, or for a late night snack and beer after clubbing.
Conversa Fiada's best food offerings are the "Espetinhos" which are grilled skewers of beef, chicken, and seafood. The camarao (shrimp) is great as is the carne (beef) with onions and peppers. Servers move from table to table with these freshly grilled meat skewers. Take what you want and the price is added to your tab.
Link to Conversa Fiada website
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