8 GREAT PLACES WHERE YOU CAN SAMPLE LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL FOOD
by Holly Stanley
My first meal when I arrived late in Itacaré. Aqua invites you into one small room that seats around 20. Fairy lights adorn the walls and candles are lit to give the room a pink glow. Bubbles are also projected around the tables, giving the restaurant a quirky feel. I ate the vegan stir fry, which was a generous portion of black rice, mushrooms, carrots, peppers it was amazingly tasty with all of the added spices and very reasonably priced too. I headed back to Aqua on the following Wednesday for their curry night which didn’t disappoint – special mention to the chicken curry which had just the right amount of spice and richness.
Senzala is what springs to mind when you picture a true, traditional, Brazilian restaurant. One huge buffet counter full of warm traditional Bahian dishes such as Feijoada (black bean stew with meat) and moqueca ( a fish stew with coconut milk). They also serve the creamiest mashed potato. The idea is then that you fill your plate with as much as you’d like to try and then the plate is weighed (such a Brazilian concept!). You can get a delicious and filling meal for about R$ 10! This is such amazing value for real, nutritious and tasty food.
When I found out Itacaré is situated on the costa Cacau, (cacau coast), I realised it really was paradise, never mind the postcard perfect beaches! Artesian chocolate shops are dotted around town. Upon entering the air is filled with the bitter and sweet aroma of cacao. My favourite cafe so far has to be Vila Rosa. Located on the main cobbled street of Pituba, their brownies are to die for. Crumbly cacao that melts in the mouth and a gooey centre that oozes out. They also sell big balls of peanut butter covered in a thick milk chocolate. Eating shop bought cadburys chocolate back home in London will never be the same.
Coming from London where açaí is all the rage for its superfood qualities, it is amazing to find açaí on every corner in generous portions with many different tropical fruits I hadn’t even heard of as toppings. All of it so much less expensive and plentiful than back home. My favourite açaí is found at the pink cafe served with the rainforest fruit cupaçu, granola and banana. It is the perfect indulgent breakfast. You can also buy smaller portions of açaí at Praia do Resende which is ideal after a long, toasty day of sunbathing and swimming.
Situated in the heart of the Pasarella, this place is hard to miss on a Friday night. Live music begins at around 9, and the street soon fills with samba dancers of every level both in couples and on their own. I enjoyed the fish dinner which consisted of a white local fish with a banana purée and plenty of salad topped with a delicious grilled cheese ( Coalho). Nuuh is the perfect place to start your Friday night and enjoy the buzzy atmosphere of the samba dancing.
After having spent several weeks in Itacaré and having heard many recommendations for this Arabic restaurant, it was definitely time to check this place out. Upon entering you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re in Morocco. The whole place is decked out in traditional Moroccan fabrics and patterns and opens out onto an inviting garden filled with cushions and plants, perfect for spending an evening sipping cocktails. When ordering, I recommend the Arabe Mixte this gives you a large selection of falafel, aubergine, hummus, pita bread, and salads. Really delicious and something a bit different. The portions are huge though – you’ve been warned!
If you find yourself craving something a little less Brazilian then this hamburger shop is the one. Here you can order a selection of delicious burgers with various cheeses and salsas to select for toppings. The restaurant also offers some incredible chilli Mayo that comes in both mild and spicy varieties. A meal here will cost between 10 and 18 real, which is a small price to pay considering the joy these burgers will bring to you! Na Grelha is a small bright yellow shop located on the zigzag.
This is one for a Sunday night when you have no energy to cook and the pizza cravings start to set in! The shop is run by a lovely local family who stock a huge variety of delicious pizzas. Almost any imaginable topping is available on their home made crafted pizzas. How affordable this place is also adds to the attraction! Small pizzas which really aren’t that small can be purchased for between 22 and 30 real. The Portuguesa was a highlight, I managed to eat a grande in around 20 minutes, it was that good. Plus you can also feel happy in the knowledge that your money is going straight to the wonderful family that run it.