Destination: Brazil: Rio de Janeiro
For a quick break, think coffee, juice and beer. Brazilians in general, and cariocas in particular, drink coffee almost like they breathe—all the time, day and night. This is, after all, premium coffee country. Traditional carioca coffee is served mild, very sweet, in espresso cups, but in the past decade, espresso and cappuccino (always served with chocolate somewhere in the cup) have gained in popularity. A wide sample of Brazilian coffees can be had at Armazém do Café (Rua Rita Ludolf 87B, Leblon; 2259-0170, plus four other locations). For strong espresso and great pão de queijo (cheese bread, a favorite carioca snack), go to any Casa do Pão de Queijo. And for an unforgettable taste of the local version of cappuccino, try any Kopenhagen shop (you’ll probably want to buy their chocolates, too). A proper high tea (and coffee) is offered at all good hotels, but Confeitaria Colombo’s (see below) is particularly delightful.
When a healthier snack is in order, locals crowd the myriad casas de suco, or juice stands, located throughout the city. It is, indeed, the ultimate carioca experience, one of the most common snacks for harried businessperson and cool, just-back-from-the-beach surfer alike: standing on a counter surrounded by the colors and scents of a rainbow of tropical fruit, having a tall glass of pineapple and mint, watermelon and coconut or simply pure mango juice. Bowls of açaí —a purple rain-forest fruit packed with flavor and protein—and sandwiches are a good choice, too. Polis Sucos (Rua Maria Quiteria 70-A, Ipanema; 2247-2518), Bibi Sucos (Av. Ataulfo de Paiva 591-A, Leblon; 2259-4298, plus three other locations) and Balada Sumos (Av. Ataulfo de Paiva 620, lj A, Leblon; 2239-2699) are some of the best casas de suco in town.
Café du Lage
For sheer ambiance, nothing surpasses this lovely bistro, inside an early-20th-century mansion in Parque Lage. Walls of green, orchids and hummingbirds provide the scenery, and chef Adriana’s pão de mel (honey cake) the gustatory ecstasy.
The salads at Celeiro are truly worthy of a meal—no small feat in a town where fruit and vegetables are exalted and eating well is a daily ritual.
For a particularly delightful proper high tea (and coffee), visit the centuries-old Downtown location on Rua Goncalves Dias, and for a spectacular view, try the outpost at Forte de Copacabana, which feels like it’s in the middle of the ocean.
Rio’s top ice cream parlor, Mil Frutas serves mini tapiocas (grilled crepes made with tapioca flour) with local farmers’ cheese and apricot jam, among other delicacies.
Cariocas come here after a morning jog for strong espresso and bread that makes great build-your-own-sandwich breakfasts.
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