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A tourist visiting Rio is very likely to hear mention of Baixo Gávea, or B.G. It’s a very famous square, surrounded by bars and restaurants where young, rich and beautiful cariocas get together.The place is packed almost every night and especially inside the two bars that dominate the bohemian scene there, serving cold draft beer, pizzas and grilled meat.

Baixo Gávea is undeniably cool and makes for a good time, but it can also be a bit disappointing if you don’t like crowded places or don’t have much money to throw around. But not to worry: There’s a way to enjoy Baixo Gávea without the unnecessary fuss and frippery – and to eat well while doing it (probably better, in fact, than you would in the more famous restaurants).

The place to go to is called Bacalhau do Rei (The King’s Cod), a play on the name of a popular restaurant chain in town called Rei do Bacalhau (The King of Cod). Unlike those of the sophisticated restaurants in the area, Bacalhau do Rei’s offerings are plentiful and cheap. The main attraction here, of course, is cod – specifically salt cod, the traditional Portuguese food, which turns up in all manner of preparations: baked, fried, boiled and even raw. Whatever the dish, it’s served in a portion large enough for two starving men, or two not-so-hungry couples. Nothing here costs more than US$30 per dish (a fair deal by Rio standards).

Portuguese pastries at Bacalhau do Rei, photo by Vinicius Camiza

Bacalhau do Rei has plenty to recommend it even if you’re not hungry for a huge serving of cod. We also love the abobrinhas à doré (fried zucchini) and the jilós à doré (fried eggs), both uncommon appetizers. The cod balls are also excellent, unsurprisingly, as are the draft beer and Portuguese spirits. Be sure to save some room for the wonderful Portuguese sweets, all made with plenty of eggs and sugar. Everything is delicious and far less expensive than the stuff they’re serving at the overcrowded and overhyped bars 100 meters away in Baixo Gávea.

This review was originally published on November 13, 2014.
 

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  -22.975262, -43.226965 Bacalhau do Rei, Rua Marquês de São Vicente 11 (Directions)
Address: Rua Marquês de São Vicente 11, Gávea
Telephone: +55 21 2239 8945
Hours: Tues.-Sat. 8:30am-midnight; Sun. 8:30am-8:30pm

Vinicius Camiza

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