10 Best Botequins of Rio
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
waiter, she as a cook — Chico and Alaide gathered their savings, rolled up their sleeves, and opened this excellent botequim, doing exactly what they do best: serving and cooking bar food.
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
It’s impossible not to be swayed by the amount of sausages offered at Rio’s botequins. Enchendo
Linguiça, however is the “it” place for sausage lovers. The name translates to "stuffing sausage" and apparently that is what they do all day long.
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.
Av. Engel Richard, 02-loja A
Grajaú, Tel: (55 21) 2576-5727
(All photos courtesy of Leticia Moreinos Schwartz)