Located in the Mercado Público, Gambrinus (Av. Borges de Medeiros 85, tel. 51/3226-6914, www.mercadopublico.com.br, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun., R$20–35) has been around for 120 years—making it the oldest restaurant in the city and a culinary and cultural institution. The tavern-like decor with its tiled walls, soaring ceilings, and old-fashioned wooden tables is simple and welcoming. The forte is fish and seafood, and daily specials range from bacalhau (salted cod) to grilled eel with shrimp sauce. Since there is no dessert, head across to Banca 40 for sorvete.
Another restaurant with a charming setting is Chalé da Praça XV (Praça XV de Novembro, tel. 51/3225-2667, 11 a.m.–midnight Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$15–30), located in a historic art nouveau-ish building whose steel structure was sent over in pieces from England. This is a good place to try regional specialties or for a happy hour drink and snack.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition