By day, the center of Floripa boasts many inexpensive eating options. At night, however, most people head to the chic Beira Mar neighborhood or to Lagoa da Conceição. Downtown, a classic spot to eat and hang out is at the Mercado Municipal, where you can fill up on fish and seafood while slugging back icy beers.
Box 32 (Mercado Municipal, tel. 48/3244-5588, www.box32.com.br, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Sat., R$10–25) is a Floripa institution that draws locals and tourists. The delicious shrimp-stuffed pásteis are particularly addictive, as are the bolinhos de bacalhau. More substantial fish and seafood entrées are also available (for a heftier price).
Another traditional downtown spot is Fratellanza (Rua Trajano 342, tel. 48/3222-1416, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–11:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., R$20–30), facing the staircase leading up to the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário. The food is hearty Italian fare—served as a per kilo buffet at lunch and à la carte in the evenings. In the summer, a piano is hauled out onto the stairs, turning the place into one of Floripa’s main musical attractions. (In the winter, the piano is moved inside for more intimate shows.)
In Beira Mar, Café das Artes (Rua Esteves Junior 734, tel. 48/3322-0690, 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 4–11 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$10–20) is a swish, arty little café/gallery. Works by local artists are exhibited on exposed stone walls that reveal the whale oil formerly used for mortar instead of cement. Caffeine fans swear by the aromatic house blend, whose flavor is enhanced by the likes of chocolate-brazil nut torte and blackberry cashew muffins. There are also savory items such as chicken empadas as well as tasty light meals.
The finest seafood in town can be had at the Toca da Garoupa (Rua Alves de Brito 178, tel. 48/3223-1220, www.tocadagaroupa.com.br, noon–3 p.m. and 7 p.m.–midnight daily, R$50–60). This refined yet unpretentious Beira Mar restaurant was founded by a group of friends whose hobby was deep-sea fishing. Grouper is the main ingredient in the reputed moquecas. Other specialties include seafood and bacalhau risottos and penne with shrimp and pesto. Leave room for desserts such as walnut “stroganoff.”
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition