Like most countries, especially the United States, fast food has becomes a means to obtain quick and filling meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Brazil is no exception and in Rio this demand for fast food began to increase in the early mid 1990s.
History of Fast Food in Rio
In 1993 there were only two American Fast food chains in Rio de Janeiro. As the demand for fast food grew, so did the fast food companies that moved into the neighborhoods of Rio. Today visitors can see such hometown favorites as McDonalds, KFC and Subway. Pizza Hut, Domino’s is also popular in Rio. Local fast food chains include Bob’s and Habib’s.
Eating Fast Food
Cariocas rarely pick up food and eat it by hand. For example, pizza is usually eaten with a knife and fork. To eat sandwiches, locals wrap them up in a napkin. It is not considered sanitary to touch the food you are eating. At most restaurants napkin dispensers can be found at every table.
Italian Fast Food
The best known Italian fast food restaurant is Spoleto. Customers may choose a kind of pasta that is prepared in real time and toppings such as shrimp, nuts, mushrooms and several other cheeses and sauces to be added to the dish. Created in Rio won a loyal audience among the many options and now is located in more than 20 neighborhoods. The specialties are spaghetti, lasagna, risotto, salads and Polpetones.
Many Cariocas take good care of their bodies. They usually take plenty of exercise and often try to eat right. To this end, there are healthy fast food eateries in Rio. Juice bars are very common. Two of the most popular are Polis Sucos in Ipanema and Balada Mix in Leblon. All juices are fresh squeezed and you have the option of choosing from several traditional as well as exotic fruit. These juice bars usually serve healthy sandwiches too.
There are many fast food eateries owned and run by locals. While not part of a big chain, these establishments are still very delicious and cheap. Expect selection to be limited consisting mostly of meat or chicken with rice and beans and usually some type of vegetable. In most eateries you will be expected to eat standing up.
For the homesick, several fast food restaurants around Rio will offer a little taste of home. There are other restaurants owned by locals that have cheap and delicious traditional dishes.