Looking out onto a whitewashed courtyard inside the Paço Imperial , Bistrô do Paço (Praça XV 48, Centro, tel. 21/2262-3613, www.bistro.com.br , 11:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–7 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$12–18) offers a tranquil oasis from the surrounding noise, heat, and traffic of Centro. Lunch is a rapid but tasteful affair with delicious salads, sandwiches, and daily specials. At around 1 p.m., it gets quite crowded with hungry execs.
Brasserie Rosário (Rua do Rosário 34, Centro, tel. 21/2518-3033, www.brasserierosario.com.br , 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Sat., R$20–30) is a gourmet café, delicatessen, bakery, wine cellar and bistro all rolled into one very attractive, high-ceilinged, stone-walled building dating from the 1860s. Light eaters can choose from myriad antipasti, salads, and unusual sandwiches made with freshly baked breads, while those with serious hunger pangs can attack the likes of artichoke herb risotto or grilled bass served with couscous and topped with a basil froth.