Zazá Bistrô is quite different to most, if not all, other restaurants in Rio. When I first arrived in town I wanted to try the best restaurants in town – and yet often I would be sent to places that looked more like airport lounges: massively air-conditioned and with a soulless emptiness that depressed me. Well Zazá is nothing like that! The decor oozes style and personality. From the beautiful wrought-iron verandah to the lovely interior decoration, full of interesting touches and details.

They take the drink making seriously and offer a great cocktail list (I haven’t had a better Bloody Mary in Brazil). The menu is really interesting – I know ‘fusion’ is a term that annoys some people, but I think it fits in this case. Obvious influences include North Africa, the middle east and south-east Asia with an emphasis on using interesting ingredients and flavours of the Amazon.

The restaurant is located in a fairly fancy part of Ipanema (probably Rio’s fanciest neighbourhood) and so, unsurprisingly, Zazá is not cheap. Zazá is also very popular – don’t even dream of just turning up at 8pm and expecting a table (on any day of the week). They’re used to English speakers (it’s that part of town) so either call to make a booking, or just drop by earlier in the day to reserve a table.

Pros: Great ambience, interesting food, excellent cocktails.

Cons: Really popular/busy so don’t expect super-snappy service.

Expensive: 4/5

Address: Joana Angélica, 40 – Ipanema

Telephone: +55 (21) 2247-9101