By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Anyone living in Rio de Janeiro for a while is bound to have a favorite buffet a kilo restaurant. These are places, often catering exclusively to the lunch crowd, which follow a simple formula: the customer fills their plate from a buffet and then pays for their meal by weight.
Buffet a kilo restaurants, both basic and sophisticated, can be found all over Rio de Janeiro. “My favorite buffet a kilo restaurant has to be Celeiro in Leblon.” comments Julia Michaels, writer. “It’s among the more expensive buffet a kilo restaurants but the food is delicious! You also get the added bonus of being able to spot the odd O Globo actor or local celebrity from time to time.”
Celeiro is a Leblon institution and perfect for someone looking for a healthy lunch in one of Rio’s most exclusive neighborhoods. They use a lot of organic ingredients and offer plenty of inventive and delicious salad options as well. Quiches, stews and other freshly prepared dishes are also complimented by a mouthwatering dessert menu.
“I like to go to the vegetarian and vegan buffet a kilo restaurants, such as Dona Vegana or Health’s, which are both located in the city center.” comments Lui Boniface, teacher. “I’m not a vegetarian myself, but it’s nice to try something a bit different, and I feel you get that with the buffet a kilos that are vegetarian.”
Dona Vegana has a reputation as one of the best buffet a kilos in the city center, vegan or otherwise. Their lunch buffet is often extremely popular with people who work nearby. Another classic buffet a kilo restaurant in Rio’s city center is Kilograma. The restaurant offers an amazing range of great quality food, including excellent sushi and oriental dishes too.
For those staying in Copacabana, Cardamomo is the best kept secret among locals. This unassuming buffet a kilo restaurant – located just two blocks from the beach on the corner of Rua Barata Ribeiro and Rua Constante Ramos – offers a small but expertly-prepared buffet, with specialties like Mexican chicken and Chinese pork ribs. The staff are attentive and helpful, and they even offer a free jelly dessert with every meal.
“Sometimes you find a great buffet a kilo in the most unusual of places.” says Martina Farmbauer, journalist. “I remember I recently went on a Clarice Lispector tour, and they took us to a restaurant that she used to frequent: Restaurante Veneziana in Leme.”
She continues, “The pizza, which they are known for, I didn’t particularly like. But they had this amazing buffet a kilo. It was also quite memorable to imagine Clarice Lispector sitting there doing the same thing.”
For the party-goers and nearby workers in Lapa, many swear by the buffet a kilo at Bar Arco Íris on the lively thoroughfare of Avenida Mem de Sá. During lunch hours, and for a time after, the bar offers a tasty selection of Brazilian favorites such as feijoada and fried fish, alongside staples such as chips and grilled chicken.