The biggest event in Rio de Janeiro isn’t its lively annual carnival – this year. Instead, during the months of August and September, the city will be playing host to the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, welcoming an expected 400,000 guests from around the world. This huge wave of visitors will cascade outside the stadium and into the city’s historic sites, shops, beaches and restaurants. If you’ll be getting in on the action, don’t be disappointed by not getting a seat at one of the city’s most popular restaurants. Plan ahead with these valuable insider tips on the best places to dine in the city provided by our local experts at Matueté Villas.
Matueté’s top choice and one frequently featuring on the list of the best restaurants in South America is this Michelin-starred restaurant located in the graceful Lagoa district near the Botanical Gardens. Claude Troisgrois, joined by his son Thomas and their team employ French culinary techniques combined with Brazilian regional ingredients to create new and original haute-cuisine dishes. Their changing tasting menu might feature scallop ceviche with sweet and sour sweet potato and edible flowers, or sauteed squid, blackened yuca, fried quinoa and jataí honey vinaigrette. A special vegetarian tasting menu is also available.
Website | Address: Custódio Serrão 62, Lagoa | Tel: +55 21 2539 4542
Where to stay near the Botanical Gardens.
The famous Copacabana Hotel is home to one of the city’s best restaurants; Cipriani. In the contemporary, elegant dining room you can enjoy exceptional northern Italian cuisine with touches of Brazil. These shine through in dishes like puff pastry and sesame crusted taleggio cheese with truffled mushrooms, and roasted mahi mahi fillet with potato crust and green tomato jelly. For the full experience, book the Chef’s Table, where you can watch the chefs prepare an exclusive menu just for you. Formal attire is recommended.
Website | Address: Belmond Copacabana Palace, Avenida Atlântica 1702, Copacabana | Tel: +55 21 2548 7070
Where to Stay on Copacabana Beach.
This very popular restaurant serves contemporary cuisine with a coal grill as its centerpiece. It’s situated in fashionable Leblon on Dias Ferreira street, known for its restaurants. The modern dining room is buzzing with lively locals reveling in the inventive creations, which may include seared tuna in truffled ponzu and egg yolk, white fish ceviche with Brazilian pepper biquinho, or tenderloin steak and potatoes stuffed with blue cheese cream and 10-year-old port wine. They have an excellent wine list to accompany these exquisite dishes, or you can opt for one of their fresh fruit cocktails.
Website | Address: Rua Dias Ferreira, 233, Leblon | Tel: +55 21 3205-7154
Where to stay in Leblon.
Found in the vibrant district of Santa Teresa, Aprazível has fabulous views over Guanabara Bay and the city. Enjoy the vistas on its relaxing and rustic terrace, the perfect place to dine on warm Rio evenings or to celebrate a special romantic occasion. Chef Ana Castilho cooks up contemporary Brazilian cuisine with an international twist, using mainly tropical and organic ingredients. Try her fried cornflour polenta risolle stuffed with spicy minced meat, confit leg of free-range pork from Minas Gerais, or typical Rio fresh fish stew.
Bar do Mineiro
This is Matueté’s favorite traditional Brazilian restaurant, also situated on the busy streets of Santa Teresa. This old-school “boteco” is fun, lively and much loved by the locals, always a good sign of authenticity! The dining room is fuss-free but full of charm with old photos and folkloric images. The feijoada here is a must, accompanied by an authentic caipirinha.
Website | Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno 99, Santa Teresa | Tel: +55 21 2221-9227
Martin Frankenberg and his team at Matueté Villas are the foremost exclusive luxury villa experts in Brazil. To accommodate discerning travelers attending the Olympics in Rio, they have added to their already excellent repertoire of villas for stays this coming August. Martin is your local Rolodex for Brazil and he can make your trip to the 2016 Olympics, or anytime, phenomenal. Matueté Villas still has some properties available, but don’t wait too long! Contact them here.