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Escape to Santa Teresa: Bohemian Rio, Bite by Bite

$125/person USD
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  • Fee includes everything consumed on the walk
  • Group Size: 2-7
  • Start/End: 11:00am-3:30pm, Sundays
  • Duration: about 4.5 hours

Our destination on this weekend walk is the artsy, hillside Santa Teresa area – often called the Montmartre of Rio – a bohemian enclave that’s one of the more pleasurable places to spend a lazy Sunday in Rio. To get there, though, we’ll first eat our way up through nearby neighborhoods that make up a key cultural backbone of the city and also allow us to taste the both eclectic and traditional foods that define them: the sweet and savory pancakes made from the indigenous manioc root and caldo de cana  juice that was first squeezed on sugar plantations – at an open-air market, Portuguese bar snacks at an old-fashioned musicians’ stomping ground, and, in Santa Teresa, contemporary takes on Amazonian seafood from a local chef innovator.

We start our walk in the Glória neighborhood, near the site of a Tupinambá indigenous village that gave the name “carioca” to residents of this city; in the early 20th-century it became an aristocrats’ neighborhood with Parisian-style gardens and plazas and today maintains an air of charming faded glory. There, in the Sunday morning fair, peppers and fruits from across Brazil share space with local fish and honey vendors. Winding through the market leads us to the lively music district Lapa, once a red light district famed for its malandros – debonair con men and swindlers – and today home to clubs playing samba, rock, hip-hop and everything in between, as well as old school bars and restaurants that still possess the raffish appeal of the neighborhood’s past.

After a look at Lapa’s famous mosaic staircase, the work of a beloved local artist, and a quick ride uphill in the historic tram, we’ll visit the ruins of a Santa Teresa mansion where artists and composers mingled during Rio’s modernist period in the 1920s, today kept lively by concerts and a coffee shop with artisanal sweets. We’ll walk past craft shops and stop into an iconic local pub, where locals gather for leisurely lunches, to the confectionary where these sweets are made, a large, memory-filled house of 8th-generation pastry makers with Portuguese roots. We’ll finish the walk here with one of their iconic pastries.

Note: This walk does include some hills and stairs. Though punctuated by plenty of stops and transport up the hill itself, please be ready for plenty of walking.

What is included in the fee?

In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk- almost a dozen different edible specialties- are included in the price. A limited selection of alcohol is served on the walks and is included in the price.

Why is the Culinary Backstreet tour more expensive than some other walking tours?

Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for.

We practice honest tourism  and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.

How does the payment process work?

Once you have selected an available walk route and date, you will be directed to pay the fee or deposit for the walk. If you are registering for a walk that requires approval, your card will not be charged until the walk is approved.

If you have just paid a deposit, but would rather pay the full amount in advance, please click on ‘view booking’ on your confirmation email and continue to the ‘pay balance’ button.

Our credit card processor, Stripe, is certified to PCI Service Provider Level 1, the most stringent level of certification. None of your sensitive data ever hits Culinary Backstreets servers. It is all captured, processed, and housed on Stripes servers. Our booking system, Bookeo, also meets both Daily PCI Security Scanning and Security Verified Requirements.

What is your cancellation policy?

100% will be refunded if given one week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more.

Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them?

Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at walks@culinarybackstreets.com for more information.

Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk?

Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at walks@culinarybackstreets.com if you’d like to join multiple walks.

Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies?

This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at walks@culinarybackstreets.com to discuss your situation before booking.

Are your walks suitable for vegetarians, pescetarians, and vegans?

We do not recommend this activity for vegans, but vegetarians and pescetarians will only have to pass on a few offerings.

Are your walks suitable for a gluten-free diet?

We do not recommend the walks to folks with a gluten-free diet, as it is too restricting.

How physically demanding are the walks?

This walk does include some hills and stairs. Though punctuated by plenty of stops, it can be strenuous at times.

Can children join the walks?

Of course! We offer a 50% discount to children ages 12 and under, and we do not charge for children under the ages 6 and under.

Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over?

Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own.

Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.

How much food will I get to try?

This is really up to you. We generally make between 9 and 12 eating stops on our walk and try to include some breaks from eating along the way. The price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our walks often involve street food and sharing food.

Is Rio de Janeiro safe these days?

Although it is safe to be in Rio de Janeiro, it is always a good idea to keep cameras and smartphones in your bag and your bag closed while walking – the stopping points on the walk will be a great time for taking pictures.

Am I going to get sick from eating Brazilian street food?

We take food safety very seriously and only frequent places that we know to have excellent professionalism in handling food (even if they are humble places). All food stops on each of our tours have been personally tested – often multiple times – by each of our guides.

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