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Where to Eat The Best Picanha in Rio de Janeiro

Updated: Apr 19

I still remember the combed white hair, the buttoned shirt, the very friendly face and of course the Chopp in front of him. In my memories of Mr. Pereira or Seu Pereira, as we called him, he was always like that, constantly observing all the intense movement, with waiters passing over and below each other. Never saw him giving a hard time to someone, just a knot to order another chopp or calling up one of his employees and saying something in their ear, probably just adjusting service or something else...

José Pereira, one of the founders of Braseiro da Gavea.
Mr. José Pereira, or as we called him Seu Pereira.

One day me and my friend were waiting outside the restaurant for a table, when Seu Pereira passed by, and I asked probably the most obvious question till date: "Are you the owner?", in less than a few minutes he was already sharing parts of his story. Of course, I don't remember the details, only his strong Portuguese (of Portugal) accent, and he telling us that everyday he would arrive in the morning to single handedly select the best Picanha pieces for the day. For me, at that time, it showed why the Picanha at Braseiro da Gávea was the best one in town, and probably in Brazil. From this day onwards, we would always speak to him, sometimes just a small talk, other days he would share a bit of his personal story, like when - just only a teenager at the time - he arrived on a boat here in Brazil, like so many other Portuguese his age did in the first half of the 1900.

He was not the only owner of Braseiro da Gávea, but for me he was one of the reasons for it to be the best place to eat picanha in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2015. But his legacy lives on... So where to eat the best picanha in Rio de Janeiro? You know it... at Braseiro da Gávea!

Picanha at Braseiro da Gávea - Taste Rio
Picanha, Brazilian favorite meat cut.

Picanha is badly translated to Sirloin steak, it's a cut that you will find only in Brazil. And, of course, it is one of the favorite dishes of the locals. I know you probably think we all go to Brazilian Steakhouses, but that's a lie. A lot of Brazilian enjoy it, but it's heavy, too much food and money at the end of the day. So we prefer a single meat like Picanha with Broccoli rice, Potato chips and Farofa (type of cassava flour that is cooked with butter and looks sandy) with Eggs and Bananas. To order this at Braseiro, just ask for "Picanha ao Ponto (medium cooked) com Arroz de Brocolis, Farofa com ovos e Banana, e batatas portuguesas". Yes, "Batatas portuguesas" means Potato Chips, why? I have no idea... lol. It serves up to 4 (four) people, the ideal is 3 (three), and you might ask me: "What if we are very hungry?" you can ask for two or compliment it with the sausages, aka "Linguiça" also one of the best in town.

So, to help you out, here's a quick guide to when you arrive at Braseiro in your next trip to Rio. When you get your seat, while still siting down - you'll ask for your "Chopp", aka local (brahma) draft beer. When your Chopp arrives, than you will make the international mimic sign for "linguiça" which is:

Waiter holding sausages on a barbecue stick at Braseiro da Gávea. Taste Rio
We are trying to mimic this! Lol.

Step 1: Left hand - Flat Hand with the bottom facing upwards.

Step 2: Right hand - Make a fist vertically and position it between 10 and 20 cm above your Left hand.

Step 3: Look towards a random waiter (he will be far away, as always) or call "Amigo!".

Now, you should be mimicking our guy here in the picture. If done correctly or poorly - as my brother always struggles too, don't worry - in a couple of minutes you'll be served the sausages (linguiça) like in the picture below. After savoring the sausages with the "vinagrete" sauce, you will ask for the main dish as mentioned above: "Picanha ao Ponto (medium cooked) com Arroz de Brocolis, Farofa com ovos e Banana, e batatas portuguesas"

Braseiro da Gavea Picanha dish - Taste Rio
This is how your plate will look like.

Your plate should look like the picture.

Now, just enjoy and be happy.Oh, and ask for another Chopp in the meantime.

You are welcome! :)


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