In a country primarily known for its trademark churrasco barbecue, vegetarians may think it would be hard to find great vegetarian options near Brazil's top tourist attractions. After all, a popular appetizer is coxinha (breaded, deep-fried balls of ground meat) and locals traditionally eat grilled cheese while on the beach.
But fear not, Brazil’s top destinations have hot spots that cater to any dietary restrictions, with versatile offerings that still celebrate the native flavors and products representative of Brazil. The key to discovering these lesser-known digs is talking to locals and looking for the home-grown ingredients that are as cherished as churrascarias and caipirinhas, like açaí berries, cassava, fish, beans, and nuts.
São Paolo: Fall in love with açaí over breakfast or lunch at Frutaria São Paulo. This refreshing restaurant and market serves guests fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, and smoothies in an equally refreshing setting, an open-air, octagonal patio with hanging vines. The natural setting is both relaxing and romantic and the fresh, healthy fare is the perfect fuel for a day of exploration. Steps from Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo’s equivalent to New York City's Central Park, the futaria is the perfect place to fuel up before a walk in the park.
Manaus: While it may not be the healthiest option, La Scarola Pizzeria is one of few places open late in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state in northern Brazil, which is a popular starting point or terminus stop for an Amazon adventure. The diverse pizza menu covers every range of toppings from arugula to oregano and delivers thin-crust, brick-oven delights as well as salads. The pizza joint is right off the city center where Teatro Amazonas, the opera house, and Igreja São Sebastiao, an historic church, are worth seeing.
Salvador de Bahia: Savor sushi and sashimi on the water at Salvador favorite SOHO. Chef Rogério Bispo puts a Bahian spin on Japanese cuisine with local fish and traditional ingredients added to the menu offerings. Bispo's fusion menu has taken off, as the trendy, upscale restaurant rarely has open tables. It's just up the street from the Museum of Modern Art, and we suggest that you arrive early and take advantage of watching the sunset on the Bahia Marina.
Rio de Janeiro: You can’t visit Rio without having a fruit juice on the beach, and Polis Sucos is the perfect place for you and your carnivore companions. The Ipanema juice stand offers the classic açaí with granola, and other native fruits like caju (the fruit of a cashew tree) and caqui (persimmon). This pit stop lies between the beach and Rodrigo de Freitas lake, both blocks away. If your travel companions can't live without meat, Polis Sucos also serves American-style sandwiches, from ham and cheese to a bacon burger.
Foz do Iguaçu: At the end of the trail along Iguazu Falls, grab a bite in Iguazu National Park’s restaurant, Porto Canoas. A shuttle bus out of the park stops just outside the restaurant, which is located along the water. Those who eat meat can enjoy traditional feijoada (a beef, pork, and bean stew) and vegetarians can choose from 17 different salads. An extensive buffet and salad bar are also available. Feast on these healthy treats while admiring the rushing water above the Devil’s Throat portion of the famed falls.
Ashley Day is the New York City Travel Editor for The Daily Meal.