Rio city guide: Finally a way to share my obsession
Have I mentioned that I’m an obsessive-compulsive holiday planner? I think it could be a sickness. Lately I’ve rocked my own world by coming up with this amazing new way of planning holidays with Google Maps. I simply research the restaurants, galleries, shop and sights I want to see and drop a pin into the map. When I’m there, I can simply check my phone and see if I’m near any of the places I wanted to visit and all the info is at my fingertips without having to take out a big map with “TOURIST” written all over it.
Over some caipirinhas on our Christmas trip to Rio de Janeiro, Mikee and I had a bright idea that perhaps other people could benefit from my maybe over-zealous holiday planning. Because, well, it’s all saved on Google Maps right? And after the trip I could easily edit the map keeping only the places that I really recommended. Well we thought it was a stroke of genius…
So here’s my map of favourite places to see and eat at in Rio and a quick write up about why I loved each place. There are a few bits on the map that I didn’t get to see but come highly recommended by locals and credible magazines like Monocle. Hopefully this city guide is useful to you if you’re travelling to Rio. If you’re not, you should definitely plan a trip – what an amazing city it is! Enjoy! x
RIO DE JANEIRO – TOP 10 HIT LIST
Market Ipanema Restaurant
Mikee uttered the words “best lunch ever” after we ate here. He could have been really hungry or really excited but we were definitely impressed by the creative menu, fresh ingredients, young beautiful crowd and urban summer setting.
Porcao Brazilian BBQ
Starve yourself for at least a day before you eat here but you can expect to be rewarded with as much high quality meat as you can eat – a proper meat feast. There’s a salad bar if you need a break.
Best bit: No need to say you’re ready for more meat – simply turn your little card green-side-up and the waiter will be right over to slice you another piece of that succulent meat.
A bustling lunchtime pit-stop for healthy, gourmet, organic salads, wraps and burgers (without the bun).
Best bit: Get a seat outside as you’re on the best street in Ipanema for people watching
Believe the hype that Sushi Leblon has the best sushi in Rio but be prepared to line up for it.
Best bit: The grilled asparagus sounds simple and boring but it’s juicy and charred to perfection.
We ate here 3 times in 2 weeks and ordered the same thing every time – you would too if you tried it.
Best bit: Grilled spring chicken in an amazingly spicy, zesty and buttery sauce with broccoli rice, fresh salad and some hot chips if you’ve got the room. I’m literally craving it now.
Bar do Mineiro
This was the source of my inspiration to cook Brazilian food. An old school bar where a local friend would take you if you were lucky.
Best bit: Get a pot of feijoada (pork and black bean stew) with rice, steamed thinly sliced kale and pork crackling. You’ll be addicted.
The ambience of this restaurant alone is reason enough to go – it’s on top of the Santa Teresa hills and you dine outside amongst friends, food and nature.
Best bit: Roasted heart of palm served to you still in the palm!
It is amazing to see how the artist (known as Selaron) has transformed these steps in Lapa from a dark and dingy drug hideout to a world famous piece of art that people from all over the world have contributed to.
Best bit: See the steps then take a photo with the eccentric artist himself who still spends all day on the steps. Careful not to sit on them for too long, as he’ll be sure to shoo you away!
This famous antique store turns into a great live samba club at night. Enjoy caipirinhas and dancing with a nice mix of locals and travellers.
Best bit: The interiors of this old mansion are special – a real treat for the eyes.
Bar e Restaurante URCA
Locals spill out of the bar and sit on the wall outside to enjoy the harbour views with ice-cold beers and fried cod balls.
Best bit: The restaurant is outstanding. We had serious food envy when we saw another table order the grilled octopus.