Acai, mate (cold tea) in a barrel, juices, healthy sandwiches… These are all types of food that make you think of one specific part of the city: the beach. It’s more than natural that everybody that comes to visit Rio ends up trying these items, whether it’s on the sand or at snack bars. But there’s another carioca institution: a specific kind of bar called “botequim”, where kitchens are filled with creativity. Below, we listed five plates of carioca finger food that represent the bohemian style very well. They will put a big smile on anyone’s face after just a few bites. Whether you are from “the yolk”, which means to be a true and proper carioca, or a tourist that came here to enjoy the Olympic games. Oh! These areall accompanied by a cold beer and chilli sauce!
For those who don’t know, it’s one of the most prizewinning botequins in the city. So it’s not a surprise that the pair who runs the house, Leandro Amaral and Luiza Souza, creates finger food that goes all out when it comes to flavour and creativity. This is the case for the polenta with rabada dish (cooked corn meal with oxtail), which has made it to other lists of Top5 Rio, check it out here. This traditional dish was made into a lovely appetiser. The fried polenta cubes are decorated with a portion of shredded meat with the excess fat taken off (R$ 40.00). Have it with an Antartica Original or a Heineken (R$ 11.50; 600ml).
The tables are spread out on the pavement, and on busy days you have to wait to get a seat. Father and Son, Tonhão and Toninho, run the kitchen of this boteco (a small bar). The former looks after the day shift, when robust and well- made dishes are sent out. The latter is responsible for creativity with juicy hamburgers, and inventions like jiló (scarlet eggplant) guacamole – delicious! But the classic there is the rice dumpling, with a crunchy outside, and a creamy inside, a result of the obscene quantity of cheese used in the recipe (R$ 6,00; the unit).
The geniality and charisma of Katia Barbosa can win anyone over, whether you are someone that can barely chop an onion, a famous chef from Brazil, or a famous chef from anywhere in the world. It’s easy to understand why, it just takes tasting some of her creations. Among them, one of the most copied plates of finger food in the city, and even in the country: bolinhos de feijoada (pork and bean stew dumplings). But don’t be fooled. She was the one who, for the first time, in 2002, actually turned this dish into an appetiser. There, they come in portions of four units, filled with bacon and kale, served with a side of crackling, and to accompany, batida de limão (a lime alcoholic drink) (R$ 29.90).
The house ran by the Rabello family since 2008 is simply the official carioca night cap. This botequim, open until 5 o’clock, has a large group of fans, among them, journalists, musicians, chefs, bar owners, and assured bohemians. A glass of Brahma beer costs R$6.50 and is the perfect combination to the most celebrated finger food there: a portion of chicken hearts (R$ 24.00). Seasoned with a mixture of garlic, onion, herbs, and wine. The hearts are cooked on the grill, not on a stick, and come to the table rare - which keeps the juiciness. To make it even better, ask for some garlic butter.
This is one of the most popular spots in bucolic Santa Teresa. Everyone that goes up there, seeks the very well made feijoada (pork and bean stew), and the fantastic batida de gengibre (a ginger alcoholic drink). At the weekend you need to have patience to get a table in the long room, which is decorated with pictures of artists and movie posters. We recommend you order a delicious portion of Brazilian pasties filled with feijoada, the most celebrated appetiser there. (R$36.00 18 units).