Featuring delectably fresh seafood accompanied by a sea breeze and ocean views, Brazil's beachside restaurants make for a delightful dining experience. From a restaurant on Belém's waterfront promenade to tables laid out on the sand on the tropical island of Ilha Grande, here are Brazil's best waterfront eateries.
O Barco, Búzios
Try O Barco's fish and shrimp moquecas, a local speciality
The coastal town of Búzios is often referred to as the Brazilian Saint Tropez, a nickname coined after the French actress Brigitte Bardot visited in 1964 to escape the Paparazzi. This A-list endorsement led smart boutiques and bars to sprout up around town, though it’s still a sleepy fishing village at heart. One of the best places to lap up Búzios’ low-key, beachy vibe is at the oceanfront O Barco, a fuss-free restaurant run by a local family where the servings are generous, the prices are reasonable and the fish beautifully fresh. Tuck into dishes like grilled king prawn, calamari, grilled anchovies, moquecas and seafood risotto, while enjoying the sea views. Stay at Eco Vila Beija Flor and enjoy more impressive coastal vistas from the swimming pool and terrace.
Cabana Ariramba, Itacaré
Freshly caught fish filleted and battered into crispy fish fingers at Cabana Ariramba
Located on Praia da Concha Beach in the small, cocoa-scented coastal village of Itacaré, Cabana Ariramba is a wooden shack where tables are laid out on the sand and shaded by palm trees. It’s a place of pure relaxation, where you can feast on fresh moquecas, prawns with coconut and mango rice, and freshly caught fish filleted and battered into crispy fish fingers. Order an icy caipirinha and watch marmoset monkeys dangle from the palm trees, capoeira being practised on the beach and surfers cresting the Atlantic waves. Itacaré sits on Brazil’s ‘Cocoa Coast’ and is surrounded by rainforest, mangroves and waterfalls but it’s also long been popular with surfers – so it’s a great place to learn how to catch a wave. Check into Mar Ilha Pousada, just a few hundred metres from the beach in Itacaré.
Lá em casa, Belém
Head to Belém's waterfront promenade, Estação das Docas, and restaurant Lá em casa
The port city of Belém is located in Pará state at the mouth of the Amazon and is one of the region’s most underrated cities, with a cuisine specialising in seafood that uses a range of saltwater and Amazon freshwater fish. Head to the waterfront promenade, Estação das Docas, to find live music, ice-cream parlours, bars and restaurants like the family run Lá em casa, where you can sample typical Pará dishes like grilled Pirarucu fish or tacacá, a golden soup filled with seafood. Another Belém restaurant (admittedly without the seafront location) that’s worth visiting is Remanso do Peixe, a local favourite run by the Castanho family, where the fish is delectably fresh – be sure to try the moqueca paraense with shrimps. Stay in a regal, cream-painted building with a tropical courtyard at Atrium Hotel Quinta De Pedras, just 23 minutes’ walk from Estação das Docas.
Restaurante Pe Na Areia, Ilha Grande
Try the steaming moqueca de peixe at Restaurante Pe Na Areia
The name of this restaurant translates to ‘foot in the sand’, since seating is laid out right on the sugar-white Abraão Beach on the island of Ilha Grande. This car-free island can be found off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, from where it’s an easy day or overnight trip by boat. The island only opened up to tourism in the 1990s, meaning its beaches and lagoons remain relatively deserted, with howler monkeys and rare wildlife found clambering through the rainforest canopy. The restaurant’s lantern-lit setting beneath the palm trees makes for a dreamy dinner setting – try the moqueca de peixe, a seafood stew served in a big clay pot. And it becomes particularly magical after dark, with decorative, illuminated rainbow umbrellas, a bossa nova band and fantastic caipirinhas. Check into the highly rated, peacock-painted Marlin Hostel Ilha Grande in the village of Abraão.
Dine on the waterfront in the coastal city of Recife
Great seafood is easy to come by in Recife, a coastal city where beach vendors carry around buckets of oysters on ice, which are then opened right before you and topped with olive oil, lemon and seasoning. The waterfront is lined with glassy skyscrapers and restaurants including the popular Bargaco, located at the mouth of the Capibaribe River. Here, you can try crispy, incredibly moreish cod croquettes, steaming, colourful moquecas served in clay pots, and enormous fried, juicy prawns with garlic and parsley. Or – for a real treat – opt for the grilled lobster, which is succulent inside but cooked to golden perfection on top. Check into Hotel Luzeiros Recife, just a 7-minute walk from Bargaco.