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