10 Best Botequins of Rio
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
the world of tapas. The result is simply terrific: Spain on a plate as seen from Rio de Janeiro.
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
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.
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
you’ll see a mix of regulars, beachcombers, people straight from the office, and business people from all over the world who now call Rio home. A squad of speedy waiters keeps the beer flowing while also distributing Bracarense’s signature’s bar delicacies, which are devoured piping hot.
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