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Rio de Janeiro

caipirinhaThe quintessential Rio dining experience is eating rodizio (or all-you-can-eat) style in one of the many meat-focused "churrascarias." There are numerous restaurants in the city where platters of delicious grilled meats and sides are brought to your table until you say "no more!" Most of these popular establishments feature expansive salad bars as well. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices for a satisfying lunch. There are many other dining choices in this international city as well, but while in Rio, you must try feijoada, a dish of black beans and pork served with rice, and pair it with a caipirinha, a typical Brazilian cocktail made of sugar cane rum, lime and sugar.

For convenient and easy lunch choices, we've had great luck wandering the streets of Ipanema and Copacabana and just going to any local lanchonetes (lunch counters), where you can sample any kind of fruit juice imaginable, along with a good selection of sandwiches and snacks (one example is Big Nectar at 34A Teixiera de Melo in Ipanema). Also, look for restaurants in the tourist areas with menus that are posted outside. Most are excellent and offer fresh selections and good value. Make sure that you verify whether credit cards are accepted. And note that some churrasco restaurants charge based on what you take, rather than a fixed, all-you-can eat American-style buffet.

Here are some highly recommended restaurants to sample typical or interesting cuisine in the city:

Confeitaria Colombo (Rua Goncalves Dias, 32): This ornate historic restaurant is a magnificent showcase for Brazil's Belle Epoque architecture, as well as the best in local meats and seafood, served buffet-style. Tourists and locals alike rave about the selection and quality here.

Marius Degustare (Av. Atlantica, 290, Leme): This traditional all-you-can-eat Brazilian rodizio restaurant has evolved -- into an all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant, located right next door to its carnivorous cousin. Besides the delicious buffet of antipasto and cold seafood, ravenous diners can look forward to the prime catch that waiters bring to your table: fresher-than-fresh lobster, prawns, salmon, tuna and more.

Casa de Feijoada (Rua Prudente de Moraes 10, Ipanema): The Brazilian national dish of feijoada (bean stew) is usually served only once a week, but you can join the locals who have a hankering for the ultimate comfort food any day of the week at this popular Ipanema restaurant. The actual bean stew is served in a traditional clay pot with whatever meat you choose (bacon, sausage, dried meat, etc.). A plethora of side dishes as well as a large cocktail menu make for a memorable taste of the city.

Bar d'Hotel (Av. Delfim Moreira, 696, inside the Marina All Suites Hotel): This hip eatery located inside the coolest boutique hotel in the city is the place where the trendy, younger set and in-the-know diners come to enjoy innovative Brazilian dishes like duck magret with fried gnocchi.

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