I would say that São Paulo is the Brazilian restaurant capital of the world and Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s street food capital.
During my month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I rarely sat down in a restaurant to eat and instead bought food on the street to eat on the beach. Many people who sell food or drinks on the streets don’t typically speak English very well, so I would try to pick up on a bit of Portuguese, so that you can order food politely and eat like the locals. Ordering in Portuguese can help you bargain better and maybe even help you make a new friend. Brazilians are very friendly and appreciate it when you try to learn a bit of their language.
Here is how to order food in Portuguese:
Bom dia/tarde/noite! Tudo bem? = Good morning/afternoon/night! How are you?
Brazilians will typically respond with a tudo bem/bom and bom dia/tarde/noite back.
Then you can say: Por favor, eu quero um (insert food name) = Please, I would like one (insert food).
Depending on the amount here are some other numbers in Portuguese:
Dois/duas = two, três = three, quatro = four , cinco = five
Finally, you must say obrigada (feminine thank you) or obrigado (masculine thank you) after you receive the item.
Bonus! you can also respond with a tenha um bom dia (have a nice day!)
Now, onto delicious street food paired with a Brazilian drink:
Coxinha com uma Caiprinha (Brazilian Fried Dough with a Lime and Cachaca Alcoholic Drink)
Coxinha is a classic Brazilian snack composed of fried dough with different types of filling. It resembles a cone and you can purchase it nearly anywhere on the streets of Rio. I think that coxinha is a bigger (and better) version of French croquettes. I would pair this tasty snack with a Caiprinha because it is such a Rio classic! These two delicious items together are a perfect combo to prepare for a lively and fun night out. You can find caiprinha’s with various tropical fruits from the classic lime (limao) to passion fruit (maracuja). All a caiprinha needs to be authentic is the famous Brazilian rum called cachaca.
Pão de Queijo com Guaraná (Cheese Bread with Brazilian Soda)
I ate pão de queijo nearly every day in Rio. It is incredibly addicting. This Brazilian cheese bread is guaranteed to melt in your mouth and satisfy any craving. For this snack, I would compliment it with an energizing Guaraná soda. This soda is made from the guaraná berry of the Amazon. This berry has a lot of caffeine, nearly twice as much as a coffee bean, and is often used in other energy drinks such as Redbull, Monster and Rockstar. This snack and drink combo will energize you for a long day at the beach or a full night out at the club.
Açai com pastel (Açai with a Brazilian pastry)
Açai was my daily refreshing treat in Brazil. I believe it is infinitely better than ice cream and WAY better than the $13 hipster American version. Brazilian Açai is a MUST. If you are in the Copacabana neighborhood, definitely check out Casa do Açai. Otherwise, you can find açai establishments everywhere. I paired this refreshing treat with a pastel. Pastel is similar to coxinha in that it is fried dough with various fillings. This dough, however, is a lot flakier and lighter, making this perfect combo extra refreshing and delicious.
Coração de frango com farofa e cerveja (Chicken Hearts with Farofa and Beer)
This street food dish was recommended to me by a friend and at first I was hesitant. I wasn’t sure if eating a chicken heart would be that good. But, it ended up being the best street food I had ever had in my life. The juicy hearts on a stick with the fluffy farofa grain tastes like a warm home-cooked meal. I would pair this dish with a light Brazilian beer like Bohemia or Brahma. Have an open mind and enjoy!
Suco de Goiaba com Tapioca (Guava Juice and Tapioca)
I was so shocked to see the abundance of fresh, tropical fruits for a low price. This is something you rarely come across in the United States. So while I was in Rio, I took advantage of the fresh fruit juice. Guava (goiaba) is my favorite, but think of any fruit, and the streets of Rio will have it. Another easy to-go snack that you can find in Rio is tapiocas. Tapiocas are a Brazilian version of crepes made from cassava root with any filling that you desire. With this snack combo you will fit right in with the Carioca locals.
Queijo Coalho em Espetos com um Coco (Cheese Skewers on the Beach with Fresh Coconut)It’s not advised to relax and sleep on the Brazilian beaches because there is too much action happening, from street vendors to soccer players. Street vendors are everywhere, especially on famous Rio beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana. The best vendor of them all are the people who carry mini grills for cheese. Brazilian grilled cheese skewers are delicious and refreshing even on a hot beach day. To go along with the beach cheese skewers, I would recommend a fresh coconut to rehydrate after basking in the sun. The Rio sun is intense and it is important to be well fed, but also hydrated!
Mamão e cafezinho (Papaya with a little coffee)
Brazil is blessed with so many fresh tropical fruits. A personal favorite is papaya (mamão). My daily breakfast in Rio was very simple, a papaya and coffee and in my mind it’s the perfect breakfast. In Brazil, the coffee is stronger and Italian-like, so don’t expect a normal American cup of joe. If you don’t like strong coffee, ask for an Americano, but still be sure to get a papaya, mango, or any fresh fruit from the street. It is out of this world.