10 Best Botequins Of Rio

For a carioca (a person born in Rio) that moved to the U.S., one of the first things I like to do when I arrive back in my hometown is to go to a botequim. It gives me the sensation of going back to my local culture, allowing me to be the Brazilian that I really am, and to participate in the local culture of eating in botequins.

A botequim (botequins, plural) is a simple type of restaurant that started in Brazil in the late 1800s, by and for Portuguese immigrants. The idea was to be a restaurant where immigrants could unwind, meet, eat petiscos (finger food) and drink, but mostly, to take a break from home and work. 

Botequins are really an official institution all over Brazil, but especially in Rio de Janeiro, where Portuguese culture seems stronger than in other regions of the country.  It serves Portuguese and Brazilian food on the cheap. Or that, I should say, was the whole premise of a botequim. As the Brazilian economy is booming, going to a botequim these days has changed in a monetary sense, which is why, I choose carefully where I go.

Here are the places that I'll hit every time I'm back in Rio, and where you should go for a real taste of the city...


Aconchego Carioca:

Katia Barbosa, the chef at this exciting botequim located near the Praça da Bandeira section of the city, is playing with the most traditional dishes of Brazilian cuisine and creating new classics. As a tourist, you might have never heard of Praça da Bandeira. Trust me, you want to go there.

The food being served at Aconchego is captivating diners from all over town and fueling the

Actually, she does that a lot; stew dishes tend to be reinterpreted into fried morsels in Katia's kitchen, and she strikes a homerun with every one of them. But she doesn't stop there. Other dishes like the costelinha de porco na goiaba — slow roasted pork ribs with guava paste served with cornmeal turnovers (pictured) — is one of the most creative and delicious plates of ribs I have ever tasted. She continues to dazzle on the dessert end; a cachaça pudding is prepared with tapioca, sugar cane, and cachaça.

This whole meal, this whole place, elated me. And it persuaded me, as much as any other talented, passionate, and devoted chef, that Katia Barbosa — born and raised in Rio de Janeiro — is the chef of the moment.

Aconchego Carioca

Rua Barão de Iguatemi, 379

Praça da Bandeira

Tel: (55 21)2273-1035



Located on a perfect corner of Leblon, Jobi represents the quintessential carioca spirit. For over 50 years, this place has been enchanting the city with its impeccable Portuguese cuisine prepared in a tiny little kitchen. Like wine, Jobi gets better with age.

On my last visit, I met with a friend from Rio for a quick chat. I ordered cod fritters with a super cold chopp (beer) and she ordered some empanadas that should be the model for all empanadas in the world; golden, buttery, and flaky — they melt in your mouth. When I am in the mood for a meal, I order purê de abóbora com carne seca mashed pumpkin puree with jerk meat — in my opinion, the best in town. Jobi is located just a few steps away from my house in Rio, and I am always smitten, surprised, and convinced that one of things I miss the most about my life in Rio, is this place.


Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva, 1,166/ Loja B

Leblon, Tel: (55 21) 2274-0547



If you are wondering why a Spanish tapas bar has made into this Rio list, I will tell you that this is one of the few botequins that have embraced the spirit of Rio combined with Spanish influences as heartedly as Venga.

Before it opened its doors in 2009, Fernando Kaplan, one of the partners, traveled to Spain to research

When I went early last year, Venga in Leblon was already a hit. Recently, they opened a branch in Ipanema, which is just as cozy as the previous one. The room is as charming as ever, thanks to a world of bottles decorating the walls. Bar tables, regular tables, and communal tables add the perfect flair for conversations to sparkle and flow while you wait for the food to arrive.

Ok, the paella croquette: Each small sphere of Spanish rice is enriched with golden saffron and enrobed by a carioca crust. And that is just a prelude of what's next. The potato croquette stuffed with ground meat is also divine. Shredded cod fish with eggs and paprika potatoes is a delight, and the churros with chocolate sauce are the perfect finish to a meal (and a place) that deserves many cheers.


Rua Dias Ferreira, 113/Loja B

Leblon Tel: (55 21) 2512-9826

Rua Garcia D'Avila 147/Loja B

Ipanema tel (55 21) 2247-0234


Academia da Cachaça:

If the caipirinha had a birth restaurant, then Academia da Cachaça would be it. The fragrance of the national cocktail drips from the glasses as waiters carry dancing trays. You can choose from a wide variety of cachaças, from Magnifica to Seleta to Leblon cachaça. My favorite cocktail is called Leblon Caipira, prepared with passion fruit, basil, and Leblon cachaça.

While savoring the best of Brazilian cocktails, you might want to savor some petiscos (finger food). A basket with twelve mini pastel de queijo (fried cheese empanadas) is a great snack. I cannot go to Academia without eating their famous escondidinhos (Brazilian-style Shepherd's pie), which comes in individual portions in a variety of combinations; the original one is made with jerk meat, mashed yucca, and Brazilian cream cheese. Other options include shrimp, salt cod, trout, chicken, and vegetables.

Academia da Cachaça

Rua Conde Bernardote, 26/ Loja G

Leblon, Tel: (55 21) 2239-1542


Pavão Azul

Under the leadership of Vera and Bete Afonso, this tiny place in Copacabana has a spot in the carioca's heart. Pavão Azul specializes in comfort food, as if you are eating a dish prepared by your grandmother. Pavão Azul is your most basic neighborhood botequim, and it keeps getting louder and better, with dishes like pataniscas de bacalhau (cod chips), arroz de camarão (shrimp rice), and octopus rice. A great lunch dish is sole served with rice and beans, which are perfectly seasoned, not to mention, prices here are extremely reasonable. Lunch at Pavão Azul totally fits in my wallet, that's why I always go back for more. 

Pavão Azul

Rua Hilário de Gouveia, 71- A


Tel:  (55 21) 2236-2381



No matter what time of the day, or night, tables at Bracarense are always occupied. If you look around

The cod fritters must occasionally bore those behind the stove who fry thousands of them, day in and day out. But the most amazing value of Bracarense, is that even after 30 years, new ideas keep coming. A sweet cauliflower bolinho stuffed with shrimp arrives as a new twist. Bolinho de abobora com carne seca stands out, particularly the thin juicy shreds of meat in contrast with the sweet, tender pumpkin, also prepared as a bolinho. It tastes terrific and confirms that a visit to Bracarense always offers excitement.


 Rua José Linhares , 85-B

Leblon, Tel: (55 21) 2294-3549


Chico e Alaide

As Brazilian chefs and waiters worked for Portuguese immigrants long ago, they also dreamed of opening their own restaurants. This classic tale is the story of Francisco das Chagas Gomes Filho (aka Chico) and Alaide Carneiro. After working at Bracarense (mentioned above) for 15 years — he as a

Located at the beginning of the most bustling street in Rio, Rua Dias Ferreira, the ambience is slightly more polished than that of an old timer, reflecting the young age of this botequim, which I don't mind at all. I love it because of its bolinho de bobó de camarão (shrimp bobó croquette), for its empadinha de bobo de camarão (shrimp stew empanada), and most importantly because everything is cooked by Alaide herself.

Chico & Alaide

Rua Dias Ferreira, 670

Leblon, tel: 2512-0028


Filet de Ouro

Just as you cannot go to Bahia and not eat acarajé, you cannot go to Filet de Ouro and not eat filet osvaldo aranha, a simple piece of filet mignon topped with golden fried garlic accompanied by rice, potatoes, and farofa (toasted manioc flour).

Curious about the name? Oswaldo Aranha (1894-1960) was a Brazilian politician and diplomat who served as the head of the Brazilian delegation at the United Nations and lobbied intensely for the creation of the state of Israel. So? Well, it turns out he was also a gourmet and his favorite food was a simple piece of steak covered with fried garlic and that he would mash all of the sides together. When I go to Filet de Ouro, I do the exact same, and it's perfect.

Filet de Ouro

Rua Jardim Botânico, 731

Jardim Botânico Tel (55 21) 2259-2396


Braseiro da Gávea

If one restaurant can represent an entire neighborhood, then Braseiro da Gavea is the highlight of its neighborhood, Gávea.  It captures the bohemian atmosphere of the place and the flamboyance of the carioca crowd.

If you are looking to flirt the carioca way, Mondays and Thursdays are your best bet with a traffic jam at the door and lines on the sidewalks. But the real reason to go there is the food. A simple picanha ao braseiro (hump steak in the style of the restaurant), arrives as the main course for two, with broccoli, rice, Portuguese potatoes, and farofa. The meat had a crazy richness and a spectrum of textures: crunchy at edges, tender at the center. I had to keep reminding myself to take it easy, to slow down.

Braseiro da Gávea

Praça Santos Dumont, 166

Gávea, Tel (55 21) 2239-7494


Enchendo Linguiça

It's impossible not to be swayed by the amount of sausages offered at Rio's botequins. Enchendo

Enchendo Linguiça is really a sausage production space, but the owner decided to make a little restaurant to serve his product as well. All sausages, up to 660 pounds per month, are prepared in an open kitchen. I couldn't contain myself and had to try as many kinds as they brought to the table, but my favorite was the linguiça croc, or crunchy sausage, enrobed in a piece of a potato that is fried and served with 3 kinds of sauces: mustard, barbeque, and cheese. 

Enchendo Linguiça

Av. Engel Richard, 02-loja A

Grajaú, Tel: (55 21) 2576-5727

(All photos courtesy of Leticia Moreinos Schwartz)