There are lots of choices for food in Brazil. Sometimes it’s cheap, sometimes expensive, but there are some interesting options.
First, rodízio options range from more traditional meats at a churrascaria to pizza and sushi. This is where a server constantly comes to your table with different varieties to choose from. Prices are typically fixed, not including drinks and dessert, and are all you can eat. Some of them will give you a card with one side red and the other side green. Green means “bring me more” and red means “stop”.
I mentioned churrascaria above. This is a restaurant specializing in different cuts of meat – beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and sausage – usually rodízio style. Warning: don’t go unless you are extremely hungry!
Another dining option is “a kilo”. This is a self-service buffet style meal where you load up your plate and weigh it before you eat. The price is usually listed per kilo or per 100g. The variety of food is usually good. Quality is hit or miss.
The most cost effective option for lunch is to do a fixed price executivo menu. You’ll be able to find meals that are normally priced much higher for much less at lunch time.
For traditional food, try feijoada. It’s black beans cooked with meat and sausage inside, served with rice and greens. Picanha is also good. It’s a popular Brazilian cut of beef with a juicy fatty end. You can find feijoada and picanha at a lot of restaurants.
Many cafés and convenience stores offer salgados (snacks) like pastel (empanada), esfiha (Arab “pizza”), or coxinha (croquette). You can get them filled with many different ingredients – Queijo (cheese), carne (meat), frango (chicken), palmita (hearts of palm), camarão (shrimp) and other options are available. Pão de queijo (cheesy bread) is another favorite. These aren’t meant to be a full meal but a snack food.
The national drink of Brazil is the caipirinha. It’s made with cachaça (fermented sugar cane) and sugar poured over ice and lime wedges. There are several other variations, such as caipivodka (vodka instead of cachaça) and caipifruta (fruits other than lime). It’s nice and sweet, and goes great in the tropical Brazilian climate.
One of my favorite things about Brazil is the juice bars. You can find a seemingly endless variety of fresh fruit juices (sucos) and açaí made to order. I’m partial to the abacaxi (pineapple). Sometimes I get asked if I want sugar included or not (sem açúcar). It’s also worth trying caldo de cano (sugar cane juice) if you see it offered. Expect to pay anywhere between BRA$4-13 depending on ingredients and the city you’re in. These juice bars sometimes serve snack food like pão de queijo and fast food like burgers.
On many of the beaches, you’ll be able to get a fresh coconut sliced open. Put in a straw and enjoy the coconut milk!