A grill with a view

The Bar do Tino in Rio de Janeiro is the perfect combination of two Brazilian virtues: barbecuing and hospitality. Come here once and you’ll always return

 Our noses discover the Bar do Tino long before we actually see it. The scent of fire and meat wafts through the narrow, labyrinthine lanes in the favela Morro dos Prazeres. The closer we get, the more intense the aroma becomes and our legs get heavier. You have to work hard if you want to eat out at Rio de Janeiro’s best favela restaurant – with a sweat-inducing climb up the steep hillside that automatically absorbs all the calories you are bound to consume here.

Ever since the panoramic view from Tino Santana’s terrace graced the cover of the city guide Veja Rio the fame of the family-owned eatery has spread far beyond the favela’s inhabitants. Last year, an expert jury awarded the restaurant the culinary prize Comer & Beber da Paz in both the categories “Best View” and “Best Food” . The experts were particularly won over by the barbecued chicken. To give it its special flavor, restaurant chef Tino Santana marinades the chicken in a secret mixture; his son Leoandro is responsible for grilling the meat.

Under the critical eyes of his father, Leoandro cooks the meat with lots of smoke under a closed top. In the kitchen, hardly bigger than a one-room apartment, mother Eleni and brother Santana prepare the side dishes. In typical Brazilian style, the grilled meat is served with beans, rice and manioc. Whether it was due to the view or the culinary skills of the Santana family, this was by far the best meal we ate in Brazil.