As a backpacker in Brazil, it is especially easy to find tasty, quick, on-budget meals. Some of my food highlights from Brazil:
Lanches – this Portuguese word for snack is used to describe a category of eateries. At busy intersections, 2 of the 4 corners are usually occupied by a lanche, a food establishment similar to a juice bar or snack shop. These shops sell quick to prepare, fresh foods including suco, petiscos, and acai. Most lanches are standing room only affairs where patrons eat at a bar. Many lanches are open more than 12 hours each day.
Suco – the Portuguese word for juice. Brazil has an incredible variety of tropical fruit available at relatively low prices. Restaurants and lanches almost always sell fresh juice blended to order.
Petisco – is a Portuguese word without an exact translation however Spanish tapas, finger-food, canape, or bite are words with a similar meaning. My favorite food coxhina is one example of a petisco. Petiscos are available at lanches, on street corners, at bars and at restaurants.
Acai – a drink with a slushy consistency made from acai fruit. This antioxidant rich drink is lightly caffeinated and perfect for cooling down. A typical acai is served with bananas, either blended into the drink or on top, granola, and honey. It is a high calorie snack and it tastes wonderful.
A few of my favorite foods in Brazil: pao de queijo (cheese bread), coxhina, and suco (fresh juice). Coxhina are made with mashed potato or other bread dough and filled with shredded chicken.
After a multi-hour, afternoon, 2 bus journey, I arrived in Arraial do Cabo with an appetite. I ate spit roasted chicken served with sides at a traditional churrasqueria, or BBQ restaurant. On a day-long boat excursion in Cabo de Arraial the on-board chef with a sense of humor grilled hot dogs. My second day in Arraial I made breakfast in the hostel and, after a sunset workout, ate ice cream overlooking the sea.
A coxhina for breakfast before beginning the 9-hour journey to Belo Horizonte (BH) with my Bla Bla Car friends Maria and Victor. For lunch, we stopped at a per-kilo restaurant. The following day I savored a pao de queijo and espresso at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brazil in the BH city center.
Meals I prepared at my hostel in BH. I enjoyed eating fresh, healthy food. The Brazilian beer 14-Weiss became a favorite.
I ate the best pao do queijo of my entire visit to Brazil at INHOTIM, the art-park located about one hour from BH in the state of Minas Gerais. This state is known for producing excellent cheese (queijo), one of the namesake ingredients in pao de queijo, so most Brazilians believe the best pao de queijo is produced in this region. At INHOTIM the bread is served hot with a chunk of semi-melted cheese in the middle. I ordered seconds. And thirds. I also packed a lunch and ate my salad at a peaceful place on top of a hill.
Acai in Ouro Preto. This city produces a beer named Ouropretana, I sampled their wheat beer and enjoyed it. In Ouro Preto, Monika, Lidiane, and I waited out a rain storm at a coffee shop. Hostel breakfast at Lidiane’s hostel.
Lunch with Monika at a per-kilo restaurant in Ouro Preto. We tasted local specialities including chicharron, fried pork rinds.
Tiago, who works with Lidiane at the hostel, was craving pizza from a restaurant in town offering all-you-can-eat pizza on Tuesday evenings. The 3 ladies kept him company as he sampled all of the pizza varieties. The dessert pizzas looked especially tasty. Similar to most restaurants in Brazil, servers walk around with the food and customers signal to waiters when they would like to be served a specific dish.
Traveling from Ouro Preto back to Rio de Janeiro (Rio) the bus visited a per-kilo rest stop. I ate pao de queijo and coxhina. First though, there was a photoshoot with my food. The sign in the bathroom instructing customers to keep hold of their electronic entrance ticket would have been helpful to me a few weeks before when I first experienced the per-kilo restaurant process for tracking purchases and charging customers.
Homemade meals in Rio included fresh fruit from the farmers market. Atemoya, a cross between the cherimoya and the sugar apple, is a fruit I tried for the first time in Brazil. The flesh is soft and the flavor is sweet.
Before touring the Museum of Tomorrow I ate bolo (cake) with espresso at the museum cafe. This bolo was served with chocolate to be drizzled on top of the cake. Wandering around Rio I tasted street food including a ham and cheese bread and pineapple cake. My local host Greg directed me to CT Boucherie where I ate an outstanding steak dinner and tasted wonderful sides. Like other restaurants in Brazil, the sides are included with the cost of the meal and the servers pass through the restaurant offering and serving each dish.
A relaxed morning with a book, an espresso, and an almond croissant at Talho.
I tasted a traditional Brazilian food, seasoned dried beef baked into a mashed potato and cheese filled ramekin, at late-night spot Jobi in Leblon. Jobi is a popular place for drinking draft beers. To indicate how many beers have been consumed at your table, the servers make markings on the paper tablecloth. Before departing Rio I grabbed some quick to-go food, an empanada, at Natural y Sabor.
A per-kilo restaurant meal eaten at a rest stop on the bus journey from Rio to Sao Paulo (SP). Feijoada, a beans and meat dish, is a traditional Brazilian food.
Fresh green juice followed by coffee and cake at Mr. Baker, a bakery and cafe in SP’s upscale, business neighborhood called Itaim Bibi. I sat at a table outdoors eating and observing the activity on the street.