Two words have greatly helped revolutionize Brazil’s dining scene throughout the past decade: Alex Atala. The talented Atala, who helms his country’s, and the world’s, best restaurants, D.O.M. in São Paulo, along with husband-and-wife team Daniel Redondo and Helena Rizzo of Maní and several other inventive chefs in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have helped to Brazil to climb into the global culinary arena as a force to be reckoned with.
Brazil’s dining scene is also remarkable in its diversity. “…Atala and…Rizzo have finally got the world's attention via their outrageous success on the coveted World’s 50 Best Restaurants list," says travel writer and Lonely Planet author Kevin Raub (they are currently ranked at numbers 7 and 36, respectively), "but there is plenty more where that came from, including out-of-this-world Japanese, Middle Eastern, and Italian.”
Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, and Japanese cuisine is part of the fabric of life in Brazil, with restaurants like São Paulo's Jun Sakamoto and Kinoshita considered some of the country’s best and most sought-after eateries.
Our list of the 10 Best Restaurants in Brazil draws from our second annual ranking of the 101 Best Restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean. In order to find the best, we consulted industry experts, local food guides, reviews, and listings, and compiled our own knowledge from experiences at restaurants in the different regions. What we ended up with was a shortlist of 214 restaurants from 25 different countries and regions. This list was then shared with our illustrious panel of judges (comprised primarily of restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, and assorted bloggers from across the globe), who undertook the tough task of voting for their favorites across a broad geographical area. In the interests of accuracy and fairness, panelists were asked only to vote for restaurants where they had eaten within the past 12 months.
The voting — based on region, cuisine, and the style of the restaurant (budget, casual/neighborhood, and serious dining/special occasion) — narrowed the list to an honored group of 101. The final list includes a versatile mix of restaurants from all the 28 different countries and islands nominated, with 13 restaurants from Brazil represented. Here are the 10 top winners.
As you click through our list, reflect on your own opinions and thoughts on our selections — how did your favorite restaurant rank, and which do you think should have been numero uno? Let us know by tweeting @TheDailyMeal.
#10 Sushi Hiroshi (São Paulo)
This two-floored, 100-seat restaurant located on a quiet street in São Paulo is easy to miss. Sushi Hiroshi is locally considered a must-visit restaurant for sushi in the city, which has a huge Japanese population. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, the service exceptional, and the dishes well-prepared and creative. On the menu is a variety of sushi and sashimi, some that stray from the more traditional side of Japanese cuisine, with house favorites including sushi ebiten, or nigiri breaded shrimp with sweet and sour sauce and mayonnaise; sushi ciro, with salmon, green onions, and breaded shrimp; and the Romeo, made with tuna or salmon in sesame crust, fried cabbage, and pepper jelly.
#9 Esplanada Grill (Rio de Janeiro)
Esplanada Grill is a traditional churrascaria that has kept diners coming back to the Ipanema area of Rio for more than 20 years. The restaurant is small, with tables situated close together, but it has a lively atmosphere to match its terrific offerings. The portions sizes at Esplanada are hearty, so be sure to bring your appetite. On the menu are starters including typical pastéis, cod fritters, smoked sausage, lamb spare ribs, and chicken hearts. For your entrée, tuck into the incredible selection of quality meats — there are more than 30 kinds of cuts on offer — from the grill, especially its picanha (rump cap). Also from the grill are lamb rump, pork tenderloin, ostrich, salmon, and shrimp, among many other dishes to suit a variety of palates. Side dishes might include fried palm hearts, seasoned rice, and a choice of fried, baked, or sautéed potatoes.