From the excitement of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches to the delightful family-run restaurants lining the streets, Rio de Janeiro offers a vibrant tapestry of culinary experiences.
One of the most delicious meals I had in Rio de Janeiro was at a small restaurant called “Bar Café Rex,” open only in the mornings.
Let’s delve into the details and savor the juicy highlights of this restaurant located near Praça da Bandeira in Rio de Janeiro.
If your travels are fueled by a passion for gastronomy, places like Bar Café Rex should be your first stop in Rio.
Bar Café Rex dubs itself a “bar” and a “snack shop,” catering to everyone with its diverse menu.
Whether you fancy snacks, appetizers, or a hearty meat feast for lunch, this is the place to experience typical Brazilian cuisine.
After tasting almost all their dishes, we discovered that the most exciting offerings were often related to perfectly juicy meats.
Perfectly juicy meats are something Bar Café Rex excels at.
Beautifully rotating chicken on hot charcoal—there’s nothing more enticing than this.
The sight of this massive rotisserie machine turning the succulent chicken is irresistible.
The chicken leads you to…
Find a spot at the tables near the restaurant’s street side (or at the bar), and you’ll be facing the heart of the eatery.
While Rio de Janeiro is a sprawling city, in narrow alleys like this, the atmosphere is tranquil, charming, and filled with the delightful weekday buzz.
If the captivating display of their beautiful roasted chicken doesn’t immediately make you sit down, wait until you see the sizzling beef on their enormous main course platter—it will gladly persuade you.
This is the kind of place where you’ll find every excuse to extend your lunch or, better yet, not return to work at all.
Experience a variety of their star dishes with the “Pratos Executivos” combination menu.
Bar Cafe Rex offers several set menus, each providing a lavish lunch spread.
How to Dine the “Bar Café Rex” Way
Family-style dining here is excellent, ensuring everyone gets a taste of each dish.
While each main course platter is a hearty lunch for one, sharing each dish makes everything even more delicious.
Bar Cafe Rex’s menu is extensive, a place where you can indulge in any lunch order.
They offer an abundance of meats, with or without vegetables, appetizers for snacking, and satisfying starters. They even have some unique drink concoctions.
I recommend trying various types of meats— their flavorful sausages, tender beef, or the downright amazing roasted chicken. Scroll down to learn more about each meat.
Give their coconut cachaça a sip—it’s served in a coconut shell.
Aperitifs and Digestifs
In Rio de Janeiro, you can find many restaurants serving aperitifs, digestifs, or both (especially if the manager is intrigued by your meat-heavy order).
At Bar Cafe Rex, the manager might bring you a piece of crispy bread and a glass of their coconut cachaça. The bread is freshly made every morning, and the alcohol content in the cachaça is definitely higher than that of beer or wine. Whether it’s Brazilian cachaça, Peruvian pisco, or Laotian lao toh, locally brewed drinks like these enhance the flavors of local dishes.
One of my favorites is the one made with ginger. The taste, especially the full-mouth vibrancy (quite strong), combines the kick of ginger with the sweetness of sugarcane liquor in an incredible way.
The drinks are usually served in a large bottle, often communal, and are typically “free” (the waiter pours for you, or sometimes even allows you to pour yourself, depending on the waiter). If you’re unsure about the quality (or cleanliness) of any of these, you can, of course, decline—hey, why not just order directly? But I assure you this is cultural (it’s also a way of respecting their hospitality), and toasting with them in a small cup will make the hosts very happy!
These sausages are an excellent start to any meal in Rio de Janeiro.
Begin your culinary adventure with some smoked, fatty, delicious chunks of pork.
Fatty and flavorful sausages should never be too far from you during your time in Rio de Janeiro.
Linguiça (sausage) is a delightful Brazilian snack, squeeze some lime juice, and a bit of chili oil for an even more delicious experience.
The texture is what I love the most, almost a chewiness, with lots of tasty fat in the middle of each sausage. How wonderful would it be to have such delicious sausages every morning?
Brazilian cheese is incredibly delicious and goes well with any lunch.
Now, this is grilled cheese.
Everyone gets a piece of grilled cheese, presenting a beautiful brown color after a brief grilling. Pay attention to the texture, the indentations on the hot grill, and the warmth of the cheese throughout the process, taken off the grill just at the moment when the cheese starts to lose its shape.
Cheese is a very traditional and essential part of any meal in Brazil, with each province or state having its preferred cheese variety.
This is an openly accepted European culinary influence in Brazil. You can order at least a large piece of cheese at any lunch (I particularly recommend doing this in Salvador).
Any Brazilian meal should be accompanied by a big bottle of red chili.
Chilies slow-cooked by the hundreds, sprinkled on anything you see.
Pro Tip—Sprinkle chili oil on everything.
Take a small plate, fill it with chili oil. Grilled cheese is good on its own, but dipping it into the oil (or even adding some chili as a garnish in one bite) elevates the taste to incredible heights.
Bar Cafe Rex has very large serving platters, making it a great place to share some Brazilian meats with friends during lunch.
Four kinds of meat, cheese, and some spicy sides—this looks like my perfect day.