Taberna do Darwin.

In general, I have been pretty disappointed by Brazilian cuisine. Locals tell us that the food in Rio is a fusion of the countries favourites, and thus doesn’t seem to have an exact identity. We have found it to be incredibly heavy, with constant salty fried food and heavy doughy snacks. Fresh, healthy food and fish -surprising considering the geographical location- seem pretty scarce in the city.

But our visit to Taberna do Darwin was a totally different story, and definitely one worth mentioning. Located across the water in Niteroi, this small family run rainforest restaurant blew our minds. A taxi from the ferry port took around 45 mins and got sketchier the closer we got; the cab driver was noticeably worried about the condition of his car after taking on some very questionable roads. We visited the small restaurant with our new friend Leo, who provided us with stimulating conversation and acted as a very useful translator at points!

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Creator and chef Sabino built the restaurant and 2 rooms from scratch. Deservedly, the restaurant has won awards and has been discussed in top publications like The New York Times. Their charming and incredibly welcoming family set the whole vibe of the restaurant. It is intimate, open, rustic, simple and plush all at the same time. Looking out over the tropical hillside, the views were absolutely breathtaking. There is a real sense of tranquility and calm that makes the whole experience so unique.

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The beautiful views are matched by the exquisite food. The menu was very limited, although very often that is a sign of a good restaurant offering fresh dining. For around 120 Brazilian reales (approx £20) we were able to feast on the most amazing vegan buffet, tuck into a super flavoursome fish or steak main and then desperately find space for pudding. The vegan salad bar was particularly exciting, with vibrant colours, creative combinations and beautiful home made sauces. All the food is made fresh daily and either grown on the site or sourced locally. The self sufficient, wholesome nature of the place really is reflected in the dishes. Herbs were even being picked from the balcony boxes as we eat. Fresh really is the word to describe the food; after a few days of heavy eating my stomach and general body was noticeably happier!

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This photo taken by the wonderful Amy Williams

Love, Lottie xx

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