Best Restaurants in Rio De Janeiro for Vegetarians and Beyond

Restaurants of Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Unfortunately, I’ve come to find that I don’t really enjoy eating out in Rio de Janeiro.

I’m a vegetarian, and like healthy, fresh food.

The standard Carioca vegetarian options of pizza, fries, cheesy bread, and desserts don’t really cut it for me… so I’ve been having a rough time.

When I lived in Bangkok, I ate out almost every day. Low prices and high quality were a match made in foodie heaven.

But in Rio de Janeiro, I can say I’ve come across the opposite.

Prices are high, and quality is soooooo low. The vast majority of of the meals I’ve had in this city, I finish thinking that I could have made it better myself at home. I feel like can make almost any of the vegetarian offerings I’ve had in any restaurant in Rio better and 1/10 the price of in the restaurant. Which I guess can be considered a positive, since I’m eating out less while saving money and eating healthier.

But it is a bit sad – I haven’t found a single good Indian restaurant, and the Mexican restaurants aren’t great either.

Anyways – I’ve come to find the following restaurants as pretty good standbys, if a night calls for celebration or I just need to get out of my house for a bit. Most of the main dishes are under 40 Reais, and the quantity and quality are passable.

Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro

Best Arabic Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro for Vegetarians:

MY FAVORITE: Amir’s (Copacabana) –

Located on the far edge of Copacabana towards Leme, Amir’s is a cute and atmospherically decorated place that would be perfect for a casual date. The hummus was great, labne was good, tabbouleh and fatoush were nice as well. The pita are sometimes dry and hard however.

Arab Restaurant (Lagoa) –

Located right on the Lagoa, with a beautiful view (pretty sparkly lights at night, and candles). The labne and hummus were two of the best that I’ve had in Rio. The falafel was awesome!
The salads (including the tabbouleh) were pretty weird, not really Arabic, but not bad – but I likely wouldn’t order them again. The pita was fine too.
(Don’t get the cheapest red wine unless you like super sweet.. it was too much for me)

Arab Restaurant (Copacabana) –

The Copacabana branch of the Arab restaurant is much better! The labne, hummus, and falafel are great, and the salads here are a bit better. The pita is consistently nice.
The wine options are lacking.

Best Mexican Restaurants in Rio de Janeiro for Vegetarians:

Si Senor (Ipanema) –

Conveniently located on Farme De Amoedo, Si Senor is possibly the best (overall) restaurant I’ve been to in Rio. But the price is steep! All of the Mexican choices are great, the margaritas are classic and the pitcher of sangria is a good bargain.
I wouldn’t recommend the vegetable quesadillas – they were barely edible.

Blue Agave (Ipanema) –

Also conveniently located, Blue Agave is on Vinicius Moraes. Formerly, it was the best quality for money that I’d encountered in Rio. With a friend, you can get an appetizer, two mains, and a couple drinks each for around 100BR (less than 40 dollars).
However, my most recent visit left me really disappointed. There was shredded carrot (and only shredded carrot) on everything – the nachos, the tacos.. it tasted like baby food. It isn’t something I would eat if you paid me. I haven’t gone backsince.

Blue Agave Restaurant Carnaval Rio Brazil

The carrot catastrophe night (but the drinks were awesome as usual!)

Best Kilo Restaurant in Rio de Janeiro for Vegetarians:

Frontera (Visconde de Piraja)

Located in Ipanema, this is a great spot for a quick lunch. The choice of salads is awesome, as are the hot dishes. The best and most varied option for vegetarians that I have found (also tons of meat options as well!), and all ingredients are listed on the dishes’ name tags, so it is easy to see what contains meat (with a tiny bit of Portuguese knowledge).

Best Japanese Restaurant in Rio de Janeiro for Vegetarians:

Nik Sushi (Garcia d’Avila)

The prices are good (but I’d recommend going ala carte and not “all you can eat” for the best deal), and even the wine is nicely priced. There are great vegetarian options, and the vegetable tempura is one of the most colorful, flavorful, and inventive that I have ever experienced. The eggplant skewers are deliciously sweet and salty, and all the desserts I’ve tried are top class as well.


I LOVE FOOD.

Love love love.

I picked up this obsession when living in Thailand – it seems like so much conversation there revolves around food (maybe because Thai food is so delicious and varied). A popular greeting even translates to “Have you eaten?”

So, moving from my (vegetarian) foodie paradise of Thailand (it must be noted that many dishes are actually NOT off-the-menu vegetarian friendly as they contain fish sauce, but there are still many options, both in Thai and in the abundance of ethnic restaurants) to Brazil, I was already a bit worried, as I knew Brazil to be the land of the all-you-can-eat meat. But I figured there would still be a wealth of ethnic restaurants that I would enjoy, like in most every other big city in the world.

So far – I’ve been proven wrong.

Help me!

I’m on the lookout for a great Indian restaurant that won’t break the bank. And more Mexican options. Any advice, Cariocas?


Necessary Details: Rio de Janeiro

What Else to Do in Rio de Janeiro
Check out my full guide to Rio de Janeiro here, which includes the best suggestions for hiking (including my favorite Morro do Leme hike), where to eat, weekend getaways from the city (including Buzios), and the best beaches.
You can read every article I’ve ever written about Rio de Janeiro (and there’s a lot: I lived there for almost two years!) here.
Viator offers a bunch of different Rio de Janeiro tour options, including for visiting Christ the Redeemer, and provides excellent customer service and refunds if anything goes wrong — much more than local operators would do.
Where to Stay in Rio de Janeiro
If you have around $100 per night to spend, you can’t get a better value than Rio 180 hotel — each room is a suite and has its own private hot tub along with incredible views!
For a wider range of pricing options, check here  or Airbnb is a great value in Rio de Janeiro. You can use this link for 39USD off your first stay!
How to Arrive to Rio de Janeiro 
You can take the bus into Rio de Janeiro from many destinations within Brazil, but most people choose to fly. While Copa Airlines isn’t my favorite carrier, they do usually offer the cheapest flights. To check the latest low prices on airfare to Brazil, try Skyscanner , or if you have some date and/or destination flexibility and want to score the absolute lowest prices, try Kiwi.com.
Visa information for Brazil and Visa Renewal in Rio de Janeiro
I’ve written an extensive post (along with Q&A about the topic in the comments) here
Steph

A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. 6 years later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and Puebla, Steph is on to her next adventure and living in sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She is traveling and living around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Facebook

9 Comments

  1. Monica
    April 19, 2015 / 10:13 am

    Love this article and the others as well ! Can you give me recommendation of a place to to go for a nice dinner with my BF in Ipanema???
    We really like Mexican food !! :))

    • Steph
      Author
      April 19, 2015 / 10:22 am

      Si Señor is a great place for a date especially if you go in the evening and sit in the patio area.. The sangria and margaritas are really tasty!

  2. June 4, 2015 / 8:45 pm

    I have a love/hate relationship with Brazilian food. I agree that Arabic, Mexican and Japanese are the most prevalent ethnic cuisines and not always done well, though in my city there are two fabulous Arabic places I’ve become devoted to. And I’ve had no Indian food since I’ve been here which kills my soul. I eat meat so I’m in a slightly easier boat, but I loves my vegetables and sometimes just want a beautiful salad so badly I could cry. All that said, have you tried ZaZa Bistro in Ipanema? I have a really good experience there. It’s not super cheap, but good quality food with unique flavors for Brazil.

    • June 6, 2015 / 7:34 am

      Actually I haven’t been to ZaZa yet – it’s on my list! I’ll be sure to check it out.
      Since writing, I’ve found an Arabic place I adore, right by my place that has decent pricing
      Agreed completely – salads aren’t so popular. I’ve found kilo places to be pretty decent for a DIY though.. in general.

  3. December 28, 2015 / 10:54 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m planning a trip to Rio currently and will be traveling with a vegetarian, so it’s nice to have some ideas of places we can eat. Sounds like we should also look for accommodation with a kitchen 🙂

    • December 29, 2015 / 6:55 am

      Happy to help! Feel free to email me too if you’re looking for any specific recommendations or further help – Rio can be frustrating for veggies.

      If you get a place with a kitchen (Airbnb has GREAT prices most months for nice big apartments, less than $50 per night with sleeping space for 4 people in an awesome area of the city), Zona Sul grocery store has the best range of veggie options, including a variety of tofu and mushrooms.
      Watch out for soup and also the feijoada (beans) – unless marked specifically veg they will contain meat stock / base. Asking “does this have meat?” won’t help as they think you’re referring to meat chunks (not stock in the recipe).

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