If you’re too lazy to leave the beach, Barra has its own fair share of eating options aside from the more obvious tourist traps. For a light and wholesome lunch between bronzing sessions, head over to the jasmine-scented Ramma (Rua Lord Cochrane 76, Barra, tel. 71/3264-0044, 11 a.m–3 p.m. Sun.–Fri., R$10–15). The owners, a Bahian-Danish couple, have elaborated on a healthy yet appetizing largely vegetarian menu with oriental leanings. Service is por quilo, so you can eat as much or as little as you want. It’s a favorite with Salvador ’s upscale yoga and pilates crowd.
Another quilo favorite that draws a more business-like crowd is Spaghetti Lilas (Rua Professor Fernando Luz 75, Barra, tel. 71/3237-9592, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$12–17). The decor is cool and clean and the mouthwatering buffet has plenty of appetizing local and international choices to fill up on.
Two of Barra’s most unpretentious and appealing neighborhood bars are Bar Chico I (Rua President Kennedy, 179. Barra, tel. 71/3336-3134, 9 a.m.–last client daily, R$15–30) and Bar Chico II (Rua Florianópolis 86, Barra, tel. 71/3267-4386, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon., 11 a.m.–last client Tues.–Sun., R$15–30), which have been watering holes for Barra residents for 30 years. Aside from being owned by the eponymous Chico, both are located on leafy residential streets and offer menus that feature nicely prepared Bahian fare—both as appetizers and full-fledged meals. Great for snacking on with a few friends (and a cold beer) or as a meal in itself are the arrumadinhos and escondidinhos, which mix your choice of meat (sausage, smoked pork, sun-dried beef, and roasted goat) in an arrangement with beans, salad, and toasted manioc flour (arrumado means “tidied up” or “organized”) or beneath a layer of pureed manioc (escondido means “hidden”).
Often overlooked by tourists, but long a favorite with Salvador ’s artist and intellectual crowd is Bate Boca (Rua Alameda Antunes 56, Barra, tel. 71/3264-3821, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. and 6–11 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–11 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$35–45). Entering the cozy interior of this house, only a stone’s throw from Porto da Barra , is a pleasantly discombobulating experience; you’ll find yourself in the midst of a Marrakesh-inspired decor with Moroccan ceramics vying for wall space with over 500 paintings. The owner’s mother, Dona Indaía, inspired local author Jorge Amado to create one of his unforgettable fictional characters, Candoca from Tieta do Agreste. In return, the Bahian novelist inspired one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, the filé à Jorge Amado, consisting of a filet mignon in madeira sauce, served with fried banana da terra, crunchy manioc flour, and sautéed potatoes. Other items on the menu are eclectically international. Though portions are generous, try to save space for the excellent homemade desserts.
Being surrounded on all sides by blue ocean might incite cravings for fish and seafood that aren’t necessarily fried or bathed in palm oil and coconut milk. When the urge for fresh fish becomes overwhelming, head to trendy Sato (Av. Sete de Setembro 3959, Barra, tel. 71/3264-6464, www.satorestaurante.com.br , noon–3:30 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 6 p.m.–last client daily, R$35–45) for some sushi as well as original Japanese dishes served in a clean minimalist environment overlooking Porto da Barra . The downstairs contains a sushi bar, grill, and wooden deck, while the sleek upstairs gets downright loungey with a DJ and big plasma TV. Weekday lunch buffets cost R$22.50, while Wednesday evenings and Sundays feature the Festival Tomodachi, a special menu featuring some 60 items, for the price of R$45.