By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Despite its expensive reputation, the vegan and vegetarian cuisine has become accessible for all budgets in Rio de Janeiro. From Tijuca, in Zona Norte (North Zone), to Botafogo in Zona Sul (South Zone), Rio offers excellent restaurants for all types of vegans and vegan food enthusiasts.
Located in Tijuca, Zona Norte, Radhe Shyam is a hidden vegan sanctuary run by the Prabhupada Vani Mission, from the Hare Krishna movement. Situated close to the Varnhagen square, the restaurant stands out for its diverse (and very cheap) dishes, including different recipes of rice (like the cashew nuts rice, for R$7); vegetarian “feijoada” (R$9); vegan samosas (R$17 for 10 units) and cauliflower “pakora” (R$7).
Serving vegan, vegetarian and lacto vegetarian options, Radhe Shyam also delivers food in Tijuca’s region from Wednesday to Saturday. Except from Mondays and Tuesdays, the restaurant is open the whole week, including holidays. To check time details, see Radhe Shyam’s page.
For the best vegan food deal, Rio’s Centro is the right place to go. In the heart of Rio’s downtown is Dona Vegana, whose highlight is its mouth-watering lunch buffet. Situated a few minutes away from Uruguaiana Station, Dona Vegana charges from R$18 (300 grams of food) to R$21 (500 grams) for a plate. For those looking for a quick vegan snack, the restaurant also serves sweets, “salgados”, sandwiches, among other options.
Politically engaged, Dona Vegana frequently hosts cultural events related to the vegan cause, such as workshops, book and documentary releases, shows, but also food tasting events and happy hours. The restaurant is open from Monday to Friday, from 8AM to 6PM.
Another vegan house worth to check out is Tempeh, a self-service organic and vegan restaurant in Centro, at Rua Primeiro de Março. Working on the second floor of an old house, Tempeh surprises its clients with its very creative homemade dishes.
From Monday to Friday, Tempeh charges R$39,90 per kilo; after 2PM, however, the price falls to R$29,90. Spinach and tofu burger, vegetarian “paella”, vegan “pastel” and “empada” and banana gnocchi are among the various delights on Tempeh’s everyday table.
Right at the side of Lapa, the Las Vegans restaurant is proud to be the first vegan “boteco” in Rio de Janeiro. Recently inaugurated, the house offers two different vegan meals per day, not mentioning its burgers, snacks, sweets and juices.
As a typical bohemian “boteco”, Las Vegans is also known for hosting music attractions. The venue opens every day from 9AM to 10PM (Monday to Wednesday); 9AM to 12AM (Thursday); 9AM to 2AM (Friday and Saturday) and 12PM to 8PM (Sunday).
In Zona Sul, one of the best low budget vegan restaurants is Refeitório Orgânico, in Botafogo. Placed in a cozy house, Refeitório serves delicious meals for lunch, with prices varying from R$14 (two-option meal) to R$22 (five-option meal).
Among its specialties are the shiitake and palm heart “bobó”; banana “moqueca” and the saffron and leek spaghetti. Refeitório Orgânico opens from Monday to Saturday, from 11AM to 4PM.
Also in Botafogo, Vegan Vegan is known for serving exclusively organic vegan dishes. Situated at Rua Voluntários da Pátria street, Vegan Vegan offers two different meals per day, which always include vegetables, spices, beans, mushrooms, grains, among other ingredients.
What’s more, the main dish is always accompanied by the soup of the day. The restaurant works from Monday to Friday (11:30 AM to 3:30 PM) and Saturday (12AM to 4PM). Prices vary from R$27 (small meal) to R$34.50 (big meal).