The great Brazilian bar food competition

Back in 1999, a guy called Eduardo Maya came up with an excellent idea. Eduardo has a rather inspiring story I think – a native of Rio, he spent some of his adolescence living in London during which time he developed an interest in food. After graduating in Mathematics, he moved back to Brazil to work a job in finance (we haven’t got to the inspiring bit yet, that’s coming up next).

After some time, Eduardo realised that he didn’t want to work in finance anymore and somehow landed himself a job hosting a culinary themed radio show (I had no idea such things even existed!). And then came his idea: A competition between all the botecos (bars) in the town of Belo Horizonte, state capital of Minas Gerais, where he was working at the time. The competition was dubbed Comida di Buteco.

Eduardo Maya. Chucked in his job in finance and decided to do something he loved. Seems like it worked out well for him. When I look into those spooky eyes though, I'm just glad he decided to use his powers for good...



The format for the competition is disarmingly simple. Each bar creates a single tira-gosto (a light snack that would typically be nibbled alongside a beer or three), especially for the competition. Sometimes there is a theme, or there are restrictions on what ingredients can be used, other times anything goes. Each year, each bar must come up with something new.

This is the point that we get involved! For several weeks (the exact dates and length of the competition varies between cities), members of the public can visit the participating botecos and taste the snacks. Diners rate the bars on 4 categories:

  • The tira-gosto
  • The hygiene of the bar
  • Service
  • The temperature of the drinks (remember this is Brazil, so the beer must be freezing…)


Just this side of freezing - beer the Brazilian way...


There is also a jury of culinary experts who vote (weighted 50-50 with the public) and at the end some lucky bars are named the winners (though one suspects that everyone is a winner here in terms of increased business for the bars and increased quality and value for the customers).

This year the competition runs for a full month in Rio – 13th April to the 13th May and 31 bars are participating. When I realised I would miss most of the competition I was disappointed (not that I deserve much sympathy, given all my gluttony back in London), but now that I’m back I have been making up for lost time!

In my next posts I will tell you how things went, but for now let me leave you with a little taster…


That's a prawn/shrimp in a pocket of buttery, creamy goodness, surrounded by soft mashed mandioca, fried until golden. Spectacularly good.


7 replies
  1. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:

    The pimenta in the background looks awesome (snack looks scrumptious as well; but I just loves me a good hot sauce).
    I am guessing that the tangerine juice is spiked with cachaça.
    Comida de Buteco dude once invited Michael Caine to be a juror. They ended up sitting together during the São Paulo edition of the competition.

  2. Alex
    Alex says:

    Ok, stop. I’m trying to get my girlish figure back. Just got done 5 miles on the treadmill, I almost died, wrote a blog, came here and see beer and fried stuff aka coxinhas. I may just run to my local padaria (100 miles to the north) to get some coxinhas now.

    That guy is so unstereotypically carioca it’s not even funny, but his idea is pretty cool. He probably needs a lot of sun screen.

    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      Heh heh – sorry Alex, I’m a bad influence. This week it’s been caipirinhas and bar snacks, next week I’ll be recommending the best places for you to get your heroin (I know you’re a big fan… 😉 )

  3. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    I’ve been lucky enough to go to a couple of the bars participating in this competition this year, and they are DELICIOUSSSSSSSS omgomgogmogomg. I actually had a dream about one of the snacks I ate, it was that good.

    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      Ha ha! Great to hear someone else is getting as enthusiastic as I am about this thing! I’ve sampled three so far and they’ve all been great!!


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