Since I live in Leblon and Ipanema is close by, I have covered a number of the restaurants in the area and have decided it was time for me to branch out. Botafogo has become one of my new favorite areas to discover restaurants; the area offers a variety of cool bars, tapas, and contemporary restaurants all located in old houses which makes for a unique atmosphere. I recently went to Iraja Gastro, a new contemporary Brazilian restaurant situated in a 1930’s house named after Rua Iraja where it is located.
Walking up to the house you will see a long hallway leading to the back garden area, it’s beautiful and covered with plants but there was a private event the night I was there so unfortunately don’t have any great pics (sorry). However, on the right hand side there is a dining area/lounge that is very cozy, with 70’s inspired decor, very high ceilings and funky furniture. Iraja offers an extensive and inventive drink menu; try the Sex on Ipanema Beach (cranberry ice cubes in vodka with orange juice) while you look over the menu, its very refreshing;)
I know the picture above looks like dessert from this angle, but believe me, this barbecue rib served with warm corn bread is jam packed with flavor and more tangy then sweet. The meat melts in your mouth and the corn bread has that ‘warm country style home-made’ taste that you would not expect from a restaurant in Brazil (more like Dukes in NYC). And those little balls along the outside are little spoonfuls of apple sauce which really brings the dish together quite nicely. Since the menu is not available in English look for Costelinha ao barbecue, bolo de fubá ao grana padano, maçã caramelada on the menu. If you aren’t in the mood for meat there is a variety of risottos, and fish options to choose from; as well as a number of small plates/ tapas style snacks. Make sure you save room for dessert! You are NOT going to want to miss out on the ‘Bolo quente de brigadeiro’ ie Brigadeiro cake (shown above), seriously WOW. It is like a chocolate tres leches with brigadeiro oozing out of the middle and is simply devine (I was swooning over each bite). It is very rich, but you will absolutely love it, definitely make sure you try it!
My only complaint and to give you a ‘heads up’, Iraja Gastro is on the pricey side…for the food above + 2 glasses of wine it cost about R$100 per person, which is a little high considering we didn’t order that much. But with trendy neighboring restaurants like Oui Oui, Among Tapas, Beiju, and Brevitar (which I will be covering soon), I guess it is safe to say you can expect the restaurants on Rua Iraja to be a bit more costly. Don’t forget to keep checking back for more restaurant reviews!
Is there a particular type of food or restaurant in Rio you would like to learn more about? Let me know!