Scrumptious, flavourful and fresh, the cuisine in Ilha Grande is about healthy home-cooking. The usual breakfast will include an array of warm breads, cheeses, ham, cereals, yoghurt, tropical fruits and fresh juices. You can also ask for an assortment of flavoured teas or maybe a cup of delicious coffee. This island used to be a coffee plantation many years ago.
Throughout the island there are several choices of restaurants. Remember that Ilha Grande is a place for ecotourism, so forget the conveniences of urban living. No refined and sophisticated restaurants. The restaurants serve a variety of dishes, but all menus are dominated by fresh seafood.
Hungry? Check out our Ilha Grande Restaurant Guide below to really get those taste buds watering. Not only have we provided some great local cuisine information, we have also listed the contact details for some of the best known restaurants in Ilha Grande for you to consider. Follow the link to our Brazil Restaurant Guide for some information about eating out in Brazil, and for links to our local connections throughout Brazil.
Food & Cuisine in Ilha Grande
If you'd like to visit restaurants in Ilha Grande, then the bars and eateries in Abraão are worth a trip. You can reach this village from the mainland in 5 minutes if you hop onto a speedboat, or in 50 minutes if you decide to row yourself in a kayak. Once there, you can visit any of the restaurants on the island, some of which are reasonably priced; others are expensive. Hamburgers here are pretty inexpensive and you can even buy food by the kilogram.
As you walk along the streets taking in the sights of the quaint village, you can pop into one of the beach huts for a quick bite or relish a dish of delectable paella at one of the restaurants. But whether you eat inexpensive food or splurge on your meal, you're sure to enjoy delicious Ilha Grande seafood cooked with fresh ingredients.
In the others villages, the Ilha Grande restaurants usually belong to hostels, though on some beaches there are simple and rustic restaurants that serve meals, drinks and snacks.
Most of the restaurants in Ilha Grande cook their dishes with fresh fish, lobsters and crabs that are caught in the waters around the beaches. Fresh and tasty, seafood is the star ingredient in most of the dishes on the menus. It might be a good idea to order a casserole or two prepared with all sorts of seafood. Though on the expensive side, these delicious dishes are worth a try!
You may like to visit one of the beachfront restaurants in Ilha Grande. The bakery on the beachfront is a good bet, with delicious fresh-from-the-oven rolls daily.
Churrascarias is a Brazilian steakhouse where meat is cooked in many ways. The people of Ilha Grande cook a mean picanha, which literally means ‘cap of the rump'. A lot of restaurants charge a fixed price for this dish, which is served with vegetables, salads, grilled fish and sushi. While salt is the only condiment the dish is cooked with, the platter is usually accompanied with a rich sauce made of tomatoes, onions, parsley, oil and vinegar (molho da campanha).
Dried salted cod, which is a legacy of the Portuguese, is well appreciated too. Though a bit expensive, the people here like to serve a dish of salted cod on Christmas or on any of the festive days. Salted cod is usually imported from Norway and used in an array of dishes. Fried fish balls are another hit with the locals, and you are sure to find some at every eatery.
The Bar Food
If you are visiting a bar, do try the bolinho de bacalhau, which is served with chili sauce. A platter of empanadas pastries also makes for a heavenly (albeit unhealthy) snack. Calabresa, a dish made with spicy sausages and fried manioc, is a tasty snack. You may also want to team your glass of cold beer with sun dried beef or carne de sol, a dish from the northeast of Brazil. But a word of caution - do not confuse it with dried beef or carne seca because that is not as tasty as carne de sol.
Brazilians have a sweet tooth and they love their desserts. Try thecreme de papaya, passion fruit mousse, lime cake (torta de limão), biscuit cake (pavé) and mousse de maracujá.
Beer is the favourite drink around this area. Skol is extremely popular, though Itaipava is easier on the pocket. Antartica is another classic brand that you may like. Those who prefer soft drinks will like Guarana, a popular soft drink in Brazil.
You can even try Cachaça or a Caipirinha made with limes and a dash of sugar. This is the land of fresh fruits and juices and you must not leave without feasting on the array of juices, all of which are sold at affordable prices. Mango, guava, orange or just about any fruit are squeezed into refreshing juices that you can sip for instant energy and a feast of flavour.