Eat Rio Food Tours – we’re up and running again!

Good news has been in short supply this year hasn’t it? Well I’ve got some here for you now: Eat Rio Food Tours are back up and running! 2020 has been a long slog for so many small businesses and here at Eat Rio it’s been no different. But I’m delighted to report that our walking food tours are back, better than ever and respecting all the necessary Covid-related precautions.

Our first ever Eat Rio food tours went out on the backstreets of Rio in 2013. In the following seven years, my little team of guides and I took more than 6,500 guests out on small group walking tours, eating and drinking our way across the city. We made countless friends and received hundreds of massively positive reviews, in TV spots and newspaper articles to guidebook recommendations and, most importantly, our guests recommending us to other travellers through word of mouth and on review sites. We won TripAdvisor’s “Certificate of Excellence” every year from 2015 onwards, leading to induction into their “Hall of Fame” in 2019.

Good times and happy guests in the early years of our Rio food tours.


The end?

In short, things were going really well, and we were on the verge of launching an exciting new venture, Eat São Paulo. Then the pandemic came to Brazil and we realised that everything had to stop. In late March, Vinicius took a group of 5 guests out on what was our 929th tour – at the time, we had no idea if we’d ever run the 930th.

After so many years of hard work — developing delicious new culinary and cultural experiences; providing magical moments to guests from around the world; forging friendships with waiters and market traders — it was heartbreaking to think it had all come to an end. Against that dark background, we kept our heads down, stayed indoors, worked on side projects, and hoped that one day we could return to doing what we love.


The return of our food tour in Rio

Well, that day has finally arrived! Although the Covid situation is far from being resolved globally, here in Rio many small businesses such as ours have adapted and reopened for business. Hygiene was always of utmost importance to us — long before the pandemic, my guides and I had huge stashes of alcohol gel and latex gloves as part of our tour gear. And the majority of time spent on our tours has always been out in the open air, getting to know the city at ground level (we were never interested in those tours where guests sit in air-conditioned coaches while a guide reads out scripted information using a microphone).

Long lines to gain entry to severely overcrowded tourist attractions are a thing of the past.

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Eat Rio Food Tours enters the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame

Although Eat Rio, the blog, started life back in 2011, Eat Rio Food Tours didn’t get going until late 2013. Since those early days a lot has changed – a few guides have moved on to new pastures (shout out to Diana in Vermont, Angela in Melbourne and Felippe in Bristol!) and a few guides have joined (high fives to Vinicius and Marie-Lou!). We’ve also expanded our repertoire from a single walking food tour to a range of delicious activities (see the full list here).

We started out as a fairly informal operation (I was still working a proper day job at the beginning), but pretty soon it became clear that we would need to do everything officially. After a lot of hassle and paperwork Eat Rio became a proper tax-paying Brazilian company, registered with the tourism board and doing things by the book.

Eat Rio and TripAdvisor

As the months turned into years, Eat Rio’s reputation spread and we found ourselves busier and busier – to date we have received a total of 5,465 guests and run almost 800 tours! A huge contributor to our success has been the travel review site TripAdvisor. Now I know that many people have their doubts about TripAdvisor but like it or not, it’s a massive player in the travel and tourism industry and although trends (and the site) have changed over the years, it’s still many people’s go-to resource when considering booking a hotel, restaurant or travel activity.

The reviews that we’ve received (548 at the time of writing) have been overwhelmingly positive and every year since 2015 we’ve been awarded TripAdvisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’, a sign of consistently positive reviews throughout the year. This year we received our fifth consecutive CofE which means we’ve been inducted into the TripAdvisor ‘Hall of Fame’:

Say what you will about TripAdvisor, it’s lovely to have all our hard work recognised so I hope you’ll forgive a little self-satisfied trumpet tooting.

Google Business Listings

Of course TripAdvisor isn’t the only review site in town, so if you’ll allow me to indulge in one last piece of review-bragging, I’d like to present our latest review from Google listings:

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Where can I find…?

The 12 months after the Olympics were tough for everyone working in tourism in Rio. It seemed like people just stopped coming here. I know plenty of businesses went under during that year and the rest of us suffered.

Everyone seemed to have a theory for this decline – perhaps it was because of the scare stories of crime and corruption published around the world while Rio ‘enjoyed’ the Olympic spotlight? Was it the woeful economy? Were people still worried about Zika? My money was on the more general idea that anyone who wanted to visit Rio probably did so between 2014 (when we hosted the World Cup) and 2016 – after that they went elsewhere. In any case, it was a tough time for tourism.

One thing that kept our spirits up during that lean period was that the people who did come to Rio were still absolutely loving the experience (both of Rio in general and of our food tours specifically).


O Rio de Janeiro continua lindo…


Well I’m delighted (and relieved) to report that things have been picking up over the last 6-12 months. Things are by no means back to their best, but here at Eat Rio Food Tours we’ve seen a noticeable and sustained improvement in visitor numbers. And despite the rampant Rio scare stories still doing the rounds, people are loving the tours and loving Rio in general. Here are the titles of our last 6 reviews on TripAdvisor:

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Eat Rio Craft Beer Tours

NOTE: (April 2023) We are hoping to re-launch our craft beer tours later this year, but for now these are not running. However, if you’re looking for some excellent places to try craft beers in Rio, get in touch and I’ll point you in the right direction!

In last week’s post I made a brief mention of a failed attempt to visit beer supply shop (this went down shortly after I had experienced a mellow kind of nirvana at a nearby snack bar). Well I expect you’ve all been eaten up with curiosity ever since, plagued by questions such as:

Why a beer supply shop? and Did you go back another time when it was open? and, erm, What did you buy there? 

Well settle down people, because I’m going to respond to your pressing perguntas. The answers, respectively, are:

I was looking for some supplies to make beer; and Yes, I went back 2 days later about an hour before they were due to closeand I bought malted grains, hops and yeast.


These are malted grains of barley. The process of malting is unthinkably cruel. First you encourage a grain to start germinating by adding water. Then, just when it gets going, dreaming of a full and happy life as a stem of grass, perhaps with plans to one day have its own child grains to continue the wondrous circle of life, you kill it by exposing it to hot air. Makes you think doesn’t it? Still, cruel or not, it’s essential for making decent beer so what can you do?


Regular readers will remember that I’ve made beer a couple of times in the last few years. On those occasions it was just some carefree fun which resulted in about 40 bottles of passably delicious home-brewed beer. But this time around things were different; this was serious. This time I was making beer with my Eat Rio colleagues and it wasn’t fun – it was work (…but also fun).

In this excruciatingly circuitous way (is anyone still reading?) I’d like to announce that we will soon be releasing our latest culinary tour experience – the Eat Rio Craft Beer Tour.  The beer scene in Rio is blowing up! Since 2012 there have been a plethora of local breweries popping up in Rio. When I first got here in 2010 you were lucky if you could find a place selling Heineken – nowadays there are dozens of speciality bars selling IPAs, APAs, Golden Ales, Bocks and Porters. Some are made in accordance with the old school traditions, others are flavoured with all kinds of exciting Brazilian fruits and spices. For a beer enthusiast in Rio it’s a wonderful time to be alive.

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Eat Rio Bar Food Tours



From time to time I’m reminded of how different my experience of Rio would have been if I’d come here alone, without the guidance, recommendations and explanations of a local (a Carioca da Gema, no less). I’m especially struck by this feeling when I meet someone who’s been living in Rio for years but still insists that “there’s nowhere good to eat here” and “all the bars suck”. While trying to suppress my indignation, I rattle off a few of my favourite places and feel somewhat relieved to see a blank look on their faces.

Actually there are great places to eat in Rio

With a little bit of effort and research you’ll find all kinds of hidden gems dotted around neighbourhoods across the city. There are the old stalwarts that have been doing things right for generations – Nova Capela (more on this place in a coming post), Galeto Sats and Botequim do Joia are great examples. Then there are the places giving traditional Brazilian food a light touch and/or modern twist – Café do Alto, Noo Cachaçaria and Puro are firm favourites. For those looking for a cheaper option there are low-cost restaurants all over the city – try Restaurante Adriano in Botafogo, Esquimó in Centro and Lilia in Lapa.


“There’s no good food in Rio” – pffff!

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