There are more high-quality restaurants here than in any other city in Brazil north of Rio de Janeiro.
Pernambuco has a multicultural gastronomy with African and indigenous influences, among others. The national dish is Feijoada, but not very popular in Recife. It is a stew of beans, pork and beef, and served with rice and Farofa. Seafood is exotic and delicious. The regional food has some peculiarities like Carne de Sol and buchada, a dish prepared with the stomach of billy goat.
- Recife is the birthplace of two traditional and delicious cakes Bolo de Rolo and Bolo Sousa Leão.
- Do try the snacks on offer from beach vendors---little chicken and beef kebabs, oysters, prawns, and grilled cheese. Just be aware that some of the vendors may have been carrying them around for hours--if it doesn't look fresh, it probably isn't.
- A must try is Caldinho: a soup served all over the place (restaurants, dedicated carts and people with flasks selling it on the beach). Comes in a variety of flavors from black bean to shrimp. The person selling it will say "completa" when you order it. This simply means "complete", and if you say yes at this point you get a few added extras, such as a small boiled egg put into the cup of hot soup.
Fancy sitting around all day on the beach under a beach umbrella? Well, you can! The chairs and the guy that moves the umbrella are free. All they ask in return is that you buy your food and drink from them.
They all carry a menu and the food arrives quickly and freshly made on the beach. Try the seafood. The fish is usually caught locally and earlier that same day.
Apart from your own vendor, there will be a variety of vendors walking up and down the beach, selling a variety of things. Learning the language for these items is useful but unnecessary as the vendor will take the time to show you what he/she has on offer.
- Prawns (Camarao) - Be careful of the prawns-- smell them before purchase. A free sample is available with the word prova. They might have been walked up and down the beach for hours in the hot sun. A quick sniff is enough to tell you if they are fresh or not. If you decide to eat them, here is a quick tip: hold the tail of the prawn, tear off and discard the head and leg sections, hold the very tip of the tail, pop the rest in your mouth and bite off the tip leaving it in your fingers. Yes, you can eat the shell; peel it if you wish, but you will not see the locals doing this.
- Oysters (Ostra) - Vendors will be carrying a bucket full of ice and live oysters. They are prepared for you one at a time. Served with a squeeze of lime, salt and cumin powder.
- Crab - They do not come prepared, so unless you know which bits to eat and which bits to discard, steer clear!
- Grilled cheese (Queijo de Coalho) - No warnings here--just go ahead and enjoy. It's a real treat.
- Kebabs (Espetinhos) - Grilled chicken or beef. Cooked fresh right in front of you.
- Ice-cream - The prices are a lot more expensive than just off the beach. But you don't have to get out of your chair. In that heat, you will appreciate that.
- Caldinho - you will notice guys walking up and down the beach with flasks. These are full of different flavors of a soup called caldinho. Try prawn one with hot pepper sauce.
- Ovos de codorna - Small boiled quail eggs ready to peel salt and eat.
- Nuts - A variety of nuts is available, cashew being the most obvious because it is grown right there in northeastern Brazil. Also, peanuts in 2 varieties: roasted or boiled.
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