24 Best Restaurants in The Northeast, Brazil

Coco Bambu Frutos do Mar

$$$$ | Meireles Fodor's choice

Lovers of seafood should look no further than this elegant spot overlooking the beach, which serves prawns in all imaginable forms. Its popularity has reached such heights that there are now 12 Coco Bambus across Brazil. Start with the giant king prawns encrusted in coconut and served with mango chutney, and then follow that up with grilled lobster with Sicilian lemon risotto. Portions are often big enough for two. The spacious restaurant has a number of different areas for dining, from the ample open-air terrace to an air-conditioned salon

Mangai

$ Fodor's choice

Choose from more than 40 delicious regional specialties at this immensely popular buffet restaurant. Tourists and town residents eat together at communal wood tables, which fit the typical rustic decor of the sertão. To top off your meal, consider ordering the cartola, a popular dessert made of caramelized banana, cheese, and cinnamon.

Mesa da Ana

$$$$ Fodor's choice
The most unique dining experience on the island, this closed-door restaurant cooks up four high-quality dishes for a maximum of 10 guests per evening, served at the long table in a lovely garden. During high season, reservations need to be made up to a month in advance.
Estrada da Atalaia 230, Fortaleza, 53990-000, Brazil
081-3619–0178
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No lunch. Closed weekdays. Closed May–June, Reservations essential

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Rola Peixe

$ Fodor's choice
Fantastic seafood and tapas are the specialties at this family-run, laid-back spot. While the decor may be unpretentious, the Basque owners ensure that the service and the quality of dishes, like octopus carpaccio, tuna tartare, and grilled robalo, are flawless. For non–fish eaters, the daily changing menu offers several options of meat, pasta, and salad.

Tapas

$$$ Fodor's choice

There are several good reasons why this hole-in-the-wall restaurant has an almost religious following: their tapas dishes fuse Spanish and Asian flavors and make the most of local seafood, and the wine list is one of Pipa's most varied and reasonably priced. Choose from favorites like sesame-crusted seared tuna alongside daily specials written on a blackboard menu hanging from the crimson walls. The relaxed yet sophisticated design creates the perfect spot for sharing food with friends—two to three plates per person should do it.

Rua dos Bem te Vis s/n, Praia da Pipa, 59178-000, Brazil
084-9414–4675
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No lunch

Tio Pepe

$$$ | Boa Viagem Fodor's choice

Specializing in innovative yet traditional dishes, this lively restaurant has loyal locals queuing out the door for juicy portions of carne de sol (sun-dried beef) and porco vulcanico (pork fillet served with a special house sauce, beans, and manioc). The menu revolves around the grill, with a wide variety of fish as well as meat dishes generous enough to be shared. Opt for a table among the tropical plants on the breezy terrace, where colorful tablecloths and eclectic design add to the character.

Vojnilô Praia

$$ Fodor's choice
An excellent option for lunch on the beach is this chic spot that combines Mediterranean dishes with good music, beautiful people, and reliable service. Freshness and quality are guaranteed. Specialties include whole roasted fish and ceviche. On Thursday, stop by for whole crab and live music; on Saturday, a DJ spins tunes at sunset. Reservations are recommended on the weekends.

Bargaço

$$$$ | Pina

For those looking for an authentic taste of Bahia, this pleasant restaurant serves up golden moquecas baianas (fish cooked with onion, tomatoes, peppers, parsley, and coconut milk) and flavorful caju caipirinhas (cocktails made with cashew fruit). Service can be slow and the prices are high, so make sure you aren't in a hurry or on a budget when you come here.

Camarões Potiguar

$$$
Locals and visitors alike rate this classic seafood restaurant as one of the best dining options in town. The house speciality is seafood, with fresh shrimps prepared in an impressive number of ways (try the shrimp cooked in pumpkin or shrimp fondue) and served in portions big enough for two. Be prepared to wait for a table if you haven't made a reservation, or head for happy hour of fresh fruit caipirinhas and tasty pasteis de camarão (shrimp pasties). Although there are now four branches of this family institution, this converted house is the chicest.

Chica Pitanga

$ | Boa Viagem
The wide variety of freshly prepared, tasty dishes at this reliable, per-kilo buffet restaurant makes it a popular choice with business workers and families alike. There is an extensive selection of meats and fish, a sophisticated salad bar, and a dessert counter. While you may need to wait for a table, the lines tend to move quickly.

Colher de Pau

$$ | Varjota

Ana Maria Vilmar and her mother opened Colher de Pau more than a decade ago in a small rented house in the Varjota district. The regional cuisine here has become so popular that there is now a sister spot in São Paulo. The sun-dried meat is served not only with paçoca but also with banana and baião-de-dois (rice and beans). The shellfish dishes, many prepared with regional recipes, are also standouts. Generous portions serve two or three people, and live music is performed nightly in the alfresco courtyard.

Ecologiku's

$$$$

This small restaurant is known for its seafood, especially lobster. If you can't decide what to order, the sinfonia ecologiku is a sampling of every type of seafood on the menu. Ask your pousada to call ahead and the restaurant will send a transfer to collect you, since finding this tucked-away establishment can be a challenge.

Estrada Velha do Sueste, Fernando de Noronha, 53990-000, Brazil
081-3619–0031
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted

L'Ô Restaurante

$$$$
This elegant restaurant serves sophisticated Mediterranean-Brazilian fusion dishes. The surrounding area may be a little run-down, but inside the decor is art deco–inspired and there is a beautiful alfresco bar in the garden. Highlights include slow-roasted lamb served with cashew nuts and an extensive wine list. While pricey, the experience is classier than most of its Fortaleza competitors.

Leite

$$$$
For a memorable lunch, look no further than Leite. Since 1882, this Recife institution has served expertly prepared Portuguese classics in a refined setting, where white-coated waiters serve delectable dishes such as bacalão com nata (cod in buttermilk) amid live piano music. Even though its downtown location requires something of a detour, it's well worth the effort.

Mergulhão

$$$$

This contemporary restaurant serves fresh seafood with attentive service. With deck chairs, a breezy terrace, and beautiful views over the port during sunset, this is a great spot for a romantic date.

Na Casa Dela

$$$

Slip off your flip-flops and tuck into pizza, pasta, and regional specialities in the charming garden of this friendly restaurant. Even though some dishes can be hit-or-miss, the wood-fire oven and romantic atmosphere keep locals and tourists alike coming back for more. Most of the tables are outside, so the restaurant doesn't open when it rains.

Rua Principal 20, Jericoacoara, 62598 000, Brazil
088-9717–8649
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sat.

Oficina do Sabor

$$$

Setlle down in the leafy dining room of this regional restaurant, and take in the views of the coconut palms of Olinda while sampling the house speciality of stuffed pumpkin for two. While there are 15 different fillings, it is the abóbora com camarão (pumpkin stuffed with shrimp and served with a pitanga cherry sauce) that really stands out.

Olinda Art and Grill

$
Good-value hearty meals, such as whole roast chicken with rice, beans, and salad, are served at this popular restaurant on a lovely terrace, which has spectacular views over Olinda. Because of its popularity, service can be on the slow side.
Rua Bispo Coutinho 35, Olinda, 53120-130, Brazil
081-3429–9406
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No dinner Sun.

Parraxaxá

$ | Boa Viagem

Waiters at this popular restaurant wear the bent orange hats of Lampião, a Jesse James–like folk hero who made his way through the interior of northeastern Brazil during the early 20th century. The buffet has a wide selection of the regional specialties that Lampião might have encountered back then. The food is priced per kilogram, so the cost will depend on how hungry you are. Try the amazing escondinho (a wonderful meat and cheese dish), charque (dried beef), and carne sol (brisket).

Piazzale Itália

$$$ | Ponta Negra

During the high season (July and December–mid-March), it's necessary to make a reservation at this popular joint, or you'll be among the many waiting outside, salivating from smells of fresh tomato sauce and garlic. The restaurant's popularity is a result of reasonable prices, a romantic atmosphere, proximity to the Ponta Negra Beach, and skillful preparation of pasta, meat, and seafood dishes. Particularly recommended is the tagliolini allo scoglio (pasta with lobster, shrimp, and mussels).

Pizzeria dall'Italiano

$

The thin-crust pizza at this lively spot is a serious contender for the best in Brazil. Originally from Italy, owners Paulo and Michela designed and built their own wood-fire oven to ensure that their secret recipe for pizza dough turned out just like at home. Regulars stop by for caiprinhas, making it a great spot to chat with the locals.

Av. Baia Dos Golfinhos 731, Praia da Pipa, 59179-000, Brazil
084-9152–8651
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues.

Restaurante Apolinario

$$
The decor may be rustic at Restaurante Apolinario, but the fresh, innovative dishes and warm, professional service are anything but. Chef Apolinario left an illustrious São Paulo Italian restaurant to fulfill his lifelong dream of opening his own place. Highlights include robalo com cajú (sea bass with cashew nut sauce) and polvo maluco (octopus, lobster, and prawns in a spicy-sweet sauce).

Santa Grelha

$$$$ | Meireles

In a restored colonial house, Santa Grelha is off the tourist path and specializes in exceptional grilled meat and fish, served with legendary home-made farofa (roasted manioc flour). Black-suited waiters and a climatized wine cellar of more than 600 options add to the air of elegance.

Siwichi Cebicheria Peruana

$$$
The sophisticated decor, fresh ceviche, and innovative cocktails at this family-run Peruvian spot make for a welcome alternative to Recife's northeastern standards. Highlights include the assorted ceviche, Nikkei tuna with caramalized onion, arroz chaufa (a Peruvian fried rice dish), and decadent churros (doughnuts).