The grub from Ipanema: A guide to snacking on Rio’s beaches

June 19, 2018
Sophie Ormond

“Açaí, açaí! Queeeeeijooooo!

Strolling along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, food vendors advertise their delicacies with melodious shouts that cut through the noise of thousands of beach-goers. Local Cariocas (residents of Rio de Janeiro) typically leave their own snacks at home and treat themselves to the diverse array of cheap food available right on the shore. After all, there’s no need to cut your tanning session short in search of a bite to eat.

These vendors will come right up to your canga (similar to a sarong) and sell you refreshments. As far as culinary experiences go, a day at the beach in Rio is truly unique — your new tan and your taste buds will thank you.

Here are some unique snacks you can buy on the beach in Rio, courtesy of our in-the-know local Rio de Janeiro tour guides.

acai treat on the beach

Hot day, cold snack | Photo by Rio Urban Adventures


It’s hard to resist the craving for a cup of cold, fresh açaí bem caprichado, when you spend the entire day in the Ipanema sunshine. By far one of the most popular snacking options available on the sand, this purple smoothie comes deliciously thick. It can be blended with bananas or strawberries, covered in granola or peanut candies, and smothered in honey, chocolate sauce or condensed milk.

Queijo Coalho

Cheese vendors meander along the shoreline with portable charcoal stoves in hand, parking their equipment alongside hungry customers and grilling small kebabs of fresh cheese. Once the cheese is a toasty golden brown, it’s sprinkled with dried oregano and drizzled with honey for an indulgent, melt-in-your-mouth treat.

No need to leave the beach for delicious eats in Rio | Photo by Rio Urban Adventures

Comida Árabe

Arab cuisine is highly prevalent on the beaches of Rio, and vendors of Lebanese and Syrian descent weave between the cangas and beach umbrellas, cloaked in traditional white dress, baskets resting on their shoulders. Their baskets contain a huge array of savoury goodies, like esfihas (a pie-like dish) stuffed with shredded chicken and cheese, accompanied with a side of baba ghanoush.

Mate com Limão

It’s understandable why Cariocas drink mate almost as frequently as water — the iced tea is so cheap, sweet and refreshing that beach-goers will gulp it down all day long. Hauling two huge metal dispensers filled with mate and lemonade on their shoulders, vendors pour the two beverages into a big plastic cup, infusing them as customers desire. If you ask politely, sometimes they pour you a free refill!

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Biscoito Globo

Many beach snackers pair their mate drink with a bag of Globo crackers (if “crackers” are even the best way to describe them — they’re hard to compare). Made from baked manioc flour (derived from the cassava root), these doughnut-shaped puffs are strangely addicting and available in both salty and sweet flavours.

Here’s a bonus #localsknow tip: Caipirinhas (and other classic Brazilian cocktails) are commonly sold along the beach, but Cariocas typically will not buy them. Why? The lime juice that give these drinks their refreshing twist can burn you if it touches your skin under the hot sun. Instead, treat yourself to an ice-cold Brahma beer and save the caipirinha for a post-sunset happy hour!