Rio de Janeiro restaurants offer an endless variety of cuisines to indulge in, and the best news for visiting dining enthusiasts just might be the fact that good eateries can be found in virtually every neighborhood. Ipanema is just one of the top dining hot spots. Rio natives, or Cariocas as they are known, enjoy eating out, and lingering for a relatively long time over a meal is common practice. In other words, you won't usually feel rushed while dining in Rio, as the restaurants tend to allow diners to linger as long as they please. The best food in Rio de Janeiro isn't only to be had at restaurants, however. Visitors are also encouraged to keep the street vendors in mind. Some grilled prawns that are seasoned with salt and lemon are among the street vendor favorites and can hit the spot when you get a desire for some seafood.
As you might expect, many Rio de Janeiro restaurants specialize in seafood. The city borders both the Guanabara Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, so fresh seafood is in very good supply. Shrimp, lobster, shellfish, and a variety of fishes are plucked out of the area waters and end up on many plates or buffet table. In addition to specializing in seafood, many Rio de Janeiro restaurants also offer up plenty of meats. When it comes to food in Rio de Janeiro, meat is most often grilled over a charcoal fire and can be found in especially good supply at the churrascarias. These steakhouses usually serve up as much grilled meat as you can handle, and there's more to choose from than just beef and chicken. Pork, lamb, and even fish is commonly grilled up as well.
When looking to get some food in Rio de Janeiro, a number of "kilo" restaurants will be at your disposal. These Rio de Janeiro restaurants offer large buffets and charge diners by the weight of what they choose. Dining at a kilo restaurant is a good way to approach Brazilian food on the whole, as variety is the name of the game. Brazilian food in general has a very international appeal, though some local twists are put on various dishes. If you want to try something that is traditionally Brazilian while dining in Rio, some feijoada might be in order. This meat and black bean stew came from Portugal and is considered to be Brazil's national dish. Salted pork or beef is the meat of choice, and the stew is often served with rice, collard greens that have been chopped and fried, farofa, and a slice of orange. A spicy pepper sauce is also usually provided on the side.
Farofa, it is worth noting, is ubiquitous in Rio. You'll find that it is served with virtually any dish at the more traditional restaurants. Manioc (cassava) roots are ground into a flour and roasted with oil to make farofa, which is a gritty bread of sorts. Some like it, others don't, so you can make your own mind up about the subject when dining in Rio. As for snacks that you might look to try while eating out in Rio, pastels are popular. Pastels are essentially crisp pastries that are filled with a variety of different things. Whereas some pastries might contain chicken, beef, shrimp, or cheese, those on the sweeter side are most often filled with chocolate, guava jelly, or banana before being fried. Brazilian pastels are thought to have their origins in Japan. Rio de Janeiro, it should be noted, has a large Japanese population, and good sushi isn't hard to find while in town.
While Rio de Janeiro restaurants can be found in good supply across the city, some neighborhoods have established themselves among the best places to dine. If you are seeking gourmet restaurants, it's hard to beat a visit to the affluent neighborhood of Leblon. The Rua Dias Ferreira in Leblon is arguably the top fine dining street in town. Leblon is right next to the famous neighborhood of Ipanema, and next to Ipanema on the other side is Copacabana. These famous neighborhoods are also among the best places to go if you want to do some quality dining in Rio. In the City Center (Centro), some of the best traditional restaurants can be found, and when you're not checking out the museums in Flamengo, this neighborhood has more than a few gems of its own on the dining front.