Eating Out: Rio de Janeiro

Alex Bourke of Vegetarian Guides and Brazilian vegan nutritionist Scarlet Hughes are in the 2016 Olympic city.

Eating Out: Rio de Janeiro

Rio is visually stunning, with miles of perfect sandy beaches, towering forested mountains, and the downtown old Centro full of museums and galleries. To really experience the views take a coastal cruise or – for the more daring – hang glide. Bronze on Copacabana or chic Ipanema, and feast in over 30 vegetarian restaurants and cafés, where lunch buffets (£5–£8) often feature the national dish feijoada, a slow-cooked black bean stew with tempeh or smoked tofu.
Tropical fruit juices include acai, which looks and tastes just like chocolate milkshake. Org Bistro is a fabulous vegetarian restaurant one block from the 18-kilometre beach in upmarket Barra, home to half the Olympic venues and the biggest shopping centre in South America. Chef Tati Lund and her crew serve up colourful, seasonal dishes such as moqueca coconut milk stew with bananas roasted in farofinha cassava flour; or quinoa with purple onion, chestnuts and roast pumpkin with passion fruit sauce. Finish with vegan Brazil nut cheesecake with berries, or cocoa almond cake with pecan coconut cream filling.
Bio Carioca vegetarian restaurant in Copacabana has a menu in English and dishes of the day (£5). Most popular are feijoada or rustic penne, and they also have gnocchi, soups, salads, and pizzas in the evening. Nearby Rio Vegano is
a vegan lunch restaurant with feijoada, stroganoff and pastel, a pastry with different fillings each day such as tofu and carrot or heart of palm. Both places have banana and Brazil nut pie for dessert.

Vegetariano Social Clube in Leblon, between Ipanema and the Botanical Gardens, is Rio's top vegan restaurant. Come for the lunch buffet (£6–£8) with six hot dishes, four salads and a soup. Thursday is pizza night while Friday and Saturday there are comida de boteco bar snacks. Try stroganoff, feijoada, quinoa risotto, shiitake pancake or banana pizza, and finish with chocolate cake. If you've overdone the sightseeing or sunbathing, they also deliver.

Also recommended:

Reino Vegetal is a big weekday lunch restaurant in an old mansion in Centro, with a pay-by-weight buffet and northern food like acaraje bean fritters, moqueca plantain stew, and coconut tapioca mousse.
Refeitorio Organico is one of several veggie lunch restaurants around Botafogo, an area with cheaper accommodation between Copacabana and Centro.
Vegana Chacara is a tranquil hidden gem in a cul-de-sac garden amongst trees.
Further inland, Prana Cozinha Vegetariana is in front of Corcovado station, from where trains wind through the forest up to the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer. Hareburger veggie fast food restaurants all over town serve burgers, salads, desserts and juices.

Key Information

Need to know:
Org Bistro
Bio Carioca
Rio Vegano
Vegetariano Social Clube
Reino Vegetal
Refeitório Orgânico
Vegana Chácara
Facebook: Vegana Chácara
Prana Cozinha

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