“Best of Recife” Awards
written by Stephen Guild and Paul Barnett
Each year, Vejá Magazine, the foremost Brazilian news and features magazine, with the largest circulation of any magazine in Brazil, publishes a “Best Of” issue for Recife. The magazine evaluates a wide range of restaurants, bars and other food purveyors and chooses what its reviewers consider the best in Recife. As with any listings of this kind, different people may have different opinions about individual listings, but as a whole, you can’t go wrong at any of the restaurants or bars, and the purveyors of the “Best Foods” are generally the top in the city.
The listings below are taken from the magazine, and you can find more detailed information about many of them elsewhere in the Recife Guide. We have provided links in those instances.
Chef of the Year: Douglas Van Der Ley
Recife Guide recently interviewed Douglas and we strongly recommended his restaurant É. Best Chef in Recife is definitely a title he deserves for his innovative approach, passion and flair. He is a leader, and he sets the standard to which many restaurants in Recife aspire. Perhaps he is also the reason that the overall standard of restaurants in Recife has improved so fast and reached such high levels.
Best Wine List: Weilla Bistro
This restaurant has been on the “Best of” list for three years because of its extensive wine list, with fine wines from all over the world. The food is as fine as the wines are. Avenida Domingos Ferreira, 1274, lojas 14 a 16, Boa Viagem, 3463-3108. www.wiellabistro.com
Best Brazilian Food: Oficina do Sabor
The restaurant, which is located in a charming house in Olinda, serves contemporary regional cuisine. The hallmarks are pumpkins filled with seafood, chicken and other ingredients in delectable sauces.
Rua do Amparo, 335, Olinda, 3429-3331. www.oficinadosabor.com
Best Meat: Spettus
In addition to the excellent meat selections, this restaurant serves an extensive cold buffet of salads, vegetable and cheeses – a meal in itself. At twice the price of its nearest rivals, it has had to establish a similar gap in terms of quality.
Avenida Agamenon Magalhães, 2132, Derby, 3423-4122; Avenida Engenheiro Domingos Ferreira, 1500, Boa Viagem, 3326-3070; Shopping Center Recife, Boa Viagem, 3463-4640. www.spettusboaviagem.com.br
Best French Food: Maison do Bonfim
Here you will find traditional French cuisine with a Brazilian flair. The restaurant consistently achieves positive reviews, but despite the excellent reputation remains, relatively affordable. Readers of Recife Guide have all given excellent reporst to date.
Rua do Bonfim, 115, Carmo, Olinda, 3429-1674. www.maisondobomfim.com
Best Italian Food: Pomodoro Café
Italian food is very popular in Recife and throughout Brazil. The competition in this category is therefore pretty tough. The strategy at Pomodoro Café is to perfect old standards and offer choice, something it achieves with sixteen different sauces.
Rua Capitão Rebelinho, 418, Pina, 3326-6023. www.pomodorocafe.com.br
Best Oriental Food: Taberna Japonesa Quina do Futuro
With an extensive menu of over 130 dishes, this establishment combines the old with the new for an exciting dining experience. The restaurant is always popular with a very loyal clientele from the neighborhood. It is a finer dining option compared to the more casual alternative SUMO at the opposite end of the same street.
Rua Xavier Marques, 134, Aflitos, 3241-9589. www.quinadofuturo.com.br
Best Fish and Seafood: Bargaço
Fish and other seafood prepared in every imaginable way is a highlight of this restaurant. The quality is consistently high earning Bargaço an enviable reputation that has already lasted many years. For visitors to the city who love fish and seafood, Bargaço is a must. Avenida Antônio de Góes, 62, Pina, 3465-1847.
Best Pizza: Pizzeria Armazém Guimarães
Using a classic wood-fired oven, classic pizzas in sixty different varieties are featured in this eatery. As everyone knows, pizzas cooked well are a very nice meal, but so often they fail to deliver. An excellent dough cooked in the right way for just the right length of time with toppings made of fresh ingredients that achieve the right balance of flavors the science of a good Pizza. Getting it right is not as simple as it seems, but this pizzeria has.
Rua Baltazar Pereira, 100, Boa Viagem, 3325-4011. www.armazemguimaraes.com.br
Best Variety: É
Combining French, oriental and regional cooking with flair, innovation and excellent presentation are the hallmarks that earned Douglas Van Der Ley his justly deserved title of the Vejá “Best Chef of the Year.” (see above)
Rua do Atlântico, 147, Boa Viagem, 3325-9323, www.egastronomia.com.br
Best Good and Cheap Food: Chica Pitanga
Good food does not have to cost a lot, and this place proves that with a variety of cold and hot dishes using regional ingredients. It is also an example of a restaurant concept that is typical across Brazil. You select from the buffet and pay by the kilo. Rua Petrolina, 19, Boa Viagem, 3465-2224. www.chicapitanga.com.br
Best Beach Bar and Draft Beer: Bar da Praia
You can’t get much closer to the beach unless you are sitting on it at this establishment. With a wide array of snacks served by a roving team of waiters, a wonderful ambience and an extensive drink list, this is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening. It also has the approval of Veja top Chef Douglas Van Der Ley (see the Recife Guide recent interview). Avenida Boa Viagem, 760, Boa Viagem, 3326-8403.
Best Small Bar and Caldinho: Bar do Neno
By the name of the award, it is clear that the caldinho (a small soup of fish, shrimp, shell fish, sea food or beans) is the tops in the city. They also serve a wide selection of other nibbles in a friendly neighborhood bar. Often on Tuesday evenings they also have live traditional music called Chorinho.
Rua Padre Roma, 722, Parnamirim, 3441-4141.
Best Food and Best Happy Hour: Bar Central
Journalists, artists, musicians gather here for drink, excellent food and even better conversation. It is small, friendly and frequented by regulars. The menu is excellent quality and good value for money; the waiters and waitresses are very friendly and the ambience is always pleasant. There is also a juke box with a selection of sophisticated national and international tunes.
Rua Mamede Simões, 144, Boa Vista, 3222-7622.
Best End of Night/Closing: Burburinho
As other bars are closing this place is just getting start with plenty of drink, food and live music of samba, rock and Brazilian popular music.
Rua Tomazina, 106, Recife Antigo, 3224-5854.
Best Guaiamum (Type of Crab): Guaiamum Gigante
If you want these local crabs prepared in a variety of ways, this is the place to go for the quality of the crab. But you had better like large and noisy restaurants too, as this place when busy has a fish market-like noise level. It is also in a difficult location for tourists unless you are travelling by car or taxi (approx. R$30 each way from Boa Viagem or Olinda).
Rua Doutor José de Góes, 299, Parnamirim, 3441-1509; Rua Artur Muniz, 82, térreo do Edifício Califórnia, Boa Viagem, 3327-1413. www.guaiamumgigante.com.br
Best Live Music and Best Flirting: UK Pub
Music and drink combine to make this place a popular destination for those who would like to find someone else for a night…or a lifetime. Named UK pub, but nothing like one in terms of design, it does British drinks and is one of the few places in the city you can get a Guinness. There is an entrance charge.
Rua Francisco da Cunha, 165, Boa Viagem, 3465-1088. www.ukpub.com.br
Best Bar for Romantic Evenings: Raval Bistro
If you want a quiet evening with just you and someone else special, this is the place to go. Soft lighting, soft music (bossa nova or jazz) and excellent food make this the right choice. Rua do Cupim, 166, Graças, 3222-4677. www.ravalbistrot.com.br
Best Bolo do Rolo: Casa dos Frios
This regional favorite – light fluffy cake rolled around guava (traditional), chocolate and other filling – makes this a perennial favorite for guests or as gifts.
Avenida Domingos Ferreira, 1920, loja A, Boa Viagem, 2125-0231;Avenida Rui Barbosa, 412, Graças, 2125-0219,www.casadosfrios.com.br
Best Expresso: Deltaexpresso
Brazil is known for its coffee, but at Deltaexpresso the coffees are from all over the world and include blends for the connoisseur. All kinds of coffee, coffee and chocolate drinks, and confections can be found here. Shopping Center Recife, piso inferior, Boa Viagem, 3464-6511; Avenida Marquês de Olinda, 302, Recife Antigo, 3224-4884; Shopping Plaza Casa Forte, nível L4, Casa Forte, 3442-3511. www.deltaexpresso.com.br
Best Crepe: Anjo Solto
If you are looking for a crepe, then you need to look no further than here. With over 90 different fillings, you are sure to be pleased and satisfied. The creperia is located in a favourite nightspot. This is not a place to go in the day. It also serves as a bar and is surrounded by other options that make this an evening gastronomic/bar hang out. Originally it was frequented only by the gay and Lesbian and the “alternative” crowd. Today it is still gay and lesbian friendly, but far more mainstream and attracts the followers of fashion and the “Wanna´be” crowd. This is reflected in the ever increasing prices which have forced the alternative crowd to move on to other places. The Vejá award confirms its mainstream status. Avenida Herculano Bandeira, 513, loja 14-A, Galeria Joana D’Arc, Pina, 3325-0862. www.anjosolto.com.br
Best Patisserie: Dalena Torta Finas
Brazilian’s love their sweets, and thus have high standards, which Dalena more than meets. The cakes are fantastic and very high quality. They also sell pastries and the empada de frango (small chicken pie) are the best you can get. They also serve an excellent Brazilian coffee. Rua da Hora, 345, loja 13, Espinheiro, 3427-5223; Ar; Avenida Rosa e Silva, 431, Aflitos, 3423-2526. www.dalena.com.br
Best Bakery: Santa Cruz
It is easy to find bread all over the city, but if you want not just bread but a taste of a heavenly food, be sure to stop here. Padaria is the name for a bakery, but they are usually much more than just bakers of bread. They will also have cakes, savories, sandwiches, sweet and savory biscuits, plus nibbles for parties that you can buy by the kilo. Rua de Santa Cruz, 101, Boa Vista, 3231-3009.
Best Pastel: Pastello
Although this is a franchised chain of restaurants throughout Brazil, the company manages to maintain high standards, and produce an excellent treat. They offer 17 different varieties of pastels to choose from. A pastel is a deep fried light pastry that is served hot and crispy and filled with savory or sweet fillings.
Aeroporto Internacional dos Guararapes – Gilberto Freyre, Praça Salgado Filho, s/nº, Imbiribeira, 3342-030; Shopping Center Recife, 1º e 2º pisos, Boa Viagem, 3464-6451. www.pastello.com.br
Best Savory Snacks/Appetizers: Mutti Delicatessen
There are many, many places in Recife where you can purchase salgados (savory snacks), usually by the kilo. But none equal this deli for the freshness, presentation and flavor. Avenida 17 de Agosto, 61, Parnamirim, 3268-9800; Shopping Plaza Casa Forte, loja 314, piso L5, Casa Forte, 3304-7011.
Best Sandwich: Pin Up Burgueria
You can find hamburgers all over Recife, but for an old-fashioned hamburger in a retro 1950’s style American diner, there is nothing like Pin Up. Recommendations are the Picanha Burger and the Shitake Burger. For those that are not big lovers of meat, the Salmon Burger is a good choice. Avenida Herculano Bandei a, 204, Pina, 3466-000; Shopping Center Recife, piso térreo, Boa Viagem, 3328-5822. www.pinupburgueria.com.br
Best Ice Cream: Santa Doce
There are several places offering good ice cream, flavored with many exotic and tropical fruits. Coconut, Caja, Mangaba, Mango are amongst the most popular fruit flavors. Of course there are also plenty of chocaholic choices here. Rua Doze de Outubro, 15, Aflitos, 3241-2034.
Best Juice: Sucão
Offering over 100 combinations of healthy and tasty fruit drinks, Sucao’s reputation is well deserved. They also serve healthy sandwiches and snacks.
Rua Carlos Pereira Falcão, 112, loja 1, Boa Viagem, 3326-3015.
Best Tapioca: Alto da Sé
Olinda has over 30 tapioqueiras (small stalls selling Tapioca), near the Cathedral , but this one run by Lúcia Rosa do Nascimento (Auntie Lu) offers the very best in 16 different varieties. The Tapioca is not a pudding. It is cooked like a crepe or pancake and comes with a choice of sweet or savory fillings; cheese or shredded coconut are the most common. Alto da Sé, Olinda.
The author gratefully acknowledges the many sources that were consulted in the writing of this article. While they provide the foundation, the interpretation and opinion are entirely those of the author.
Paul Barnett is Founder of Recife Guide. Stephen Guild is Executive Editor of Recife Guide.