In Gramado, you’ll find no shortage of fondues (beef and cheese), fresh river trout, and chocolates. Although plenty of cheap fondue rodízios have sprung up, if you want the real cheesy deal, you’ll have to pay for it.
Often touted as one of Brazil’s finest Swiss restaurants, Belle du Valais (Av. das Hortênsias 1432, tel. 54/3295-1146, www.belleduvalais.com.br, R$50–70) is decidedly romantic with lots of dark wood paneling, sparkling crystal, and a glowing fireplace. Aside from the ubiquitous fondues, try the pierrade (filet mignon and chicken cooked over volcanic rocks and served with various sauces) and the lamb with mint puree.
You’ll find delicious fondues as well as traditional German dishes at Gasthof Edelweiss (Rua da Carrière 1119, Lago Negro, tel. 54/3286-1861, www.restauranteedelweiss.com.br, noon–3 p.m. and 7:30–11 p.m. daily, R$45–60), the godfather of Gramado’s Alpine eateries. Signature dishes include rabbit in black beer sauce and honey-roasted pheasant. The wine cellar is so vast that it doubles as a dining room.
A more unusual dining experience can be had at La Caceria (Av. Borges de Medeiros 3166, tel. 54/3295-1305, www.casadamontanha.com.br, 7 p.m.–midnight daily, R$50–70), located in the luxurious (and kitschy) Hotel Casa da Montanha. The dining room decorated with hunting rifles and stuffed animals heads is the perfect setting for tucking into game such as partridge, duck, wild boar, and even capybara. The wine list features an impressive array of regional vintages. Reservations are essential.
For something lighter and more contemporary (and more affordable), head to O Lugar (Rua Prefeito Waldemar Frederico Weber 1815, Mato Queimado, tel. 54/3295-1305, 7:30 p.m.–midnight Thurs.–Fri., noon–midnight Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun., R$25–40), an airy and very attractive bistro designed using rough-hewn stone, wood, and glass. The prix fixe menu (an appetizer, main course, and dessert) is prepared daily by chef Carol Heckmann, based on the freshest ingredients at hand.
For snacks, light meals, coffee, or a glass of wine head to the cafés along the Rua Coberta, a covered passageway leading from Avenida Borges de Medeiros and Rua Garibaldi, where you’ll find lots of inviting restaurants and cafés, open from morning to midnight, among them Armazém 31 (tel. 54/3286-6988), Petit Café (tel. 54/3286-4793), and Bistrô Brillat (tel. 54/3286-6900), where you can get a mean bowl of soup.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition