Dec 24, 2008

Trancoso, in Bahia: the best restaurants

Il Mercato - Restaurant with the best ambiance

Right smack in the middle of the famed Quadrado - Trancoso's main square - Il Mercato is the prettiest restaurant in town. A tiny façade hides a sprawling multi-level interior, on levels descending towards the sea. The different rooms are filled with oversize pillows and Moroccan lanterns. The open patio at the end is the best spot for breezy, boozy dinners, and has three niches separated by billowy curtains. Lamb risotto is cooked to al dente perfection, while the Caprese fetuccini, crowned with plump, soft cubes of buffalo mozzarella, is one of the top sellers.
Tel. (073) 2668-2250

Capim Santo
Rua do Beco, next to the Quadrado
Tel. (55-73)3668-1122
One of the first restaurants of Trancoso, this classic sits at the entrance of the eponymous pousada and is a perennial favorite. It specializes in fish and seafood with typically Brazilian ingredients, such as mango, coconut and farofa. The best tables are the outdoor ones.

Praça S. João (Quadrado)
Tel. (55-73)3668-1049
Right on the Quadrado, Silvana’s tables on the grass are perfect for people watching. Simple restaurant serving huge moquecas which are considered the best in town, and other hearty fish and seafood dishes.

El Gordo
Praça S. João (Quadrado)
Tel. (55-73)3668-1193

Hip and loungey restaurant serving pricey and ambitious food. Tables have ocen views and are squeezed on a patio next to this pousada’s pool. Menu is out of touch with the Trancoso vibe: dishes include rack of lamb with Dijon and honey sauce (65 reais), grilled salmon (55 reais), duck breast with caramelized apple (40 reais), risotto with lobster and aspargus (60 reais). Note: dishes and prices were accurate in February of 2008 and may have changed.

Rua Carlos Alberto Parracho
Tel. (55-73)3668-1258
Beautiful pizzeria with high ceilings and a wood-fired oven in the center of the room. Terracota roof tiles and bird prints on the wall give it a colonial feel. Frequented by posh paulistas and cariocas who flock here to see and be seen during high season. Great thin-crust pizzas – make sure to try the one topped with arugula, a specialty. Best draft beer in town.

Rua do Telégrafo
Tel. (55-73)3668-1872


Praça S. João (Quadrado)
Tel. (55-73)3668-1054
The place to go when in a hurry or very hungry. A small colonial house on the quadrado has been converted into this hugely popular restaurant where an obscene amount of food is placed on a buffet and sold “por quilo”, or by weight. The typically Brazilian dishes – think rice, beans, farofa, picadinho, etc. – are quite good considering they sit on a hot buffet for hours. A true bargain.

Pé na Praia
My absolute favourite place to eat on the beach in Trancoso. It doesn't really have an address. Simply walk down from the Quadrado to the beach and when you hit the sand turn right and walk for about 30 minutes until you're at the end of the praia do Rio Verde. Or, if you're lazy, get in a cab and say "eu vou no Peh na Praia, no rio Verde". Done.
There, you can grab a wooden table right on the sand, or a hammock. Service is fast and efficient, and the beer always served perfectly chilled. Great rice and beans, great chicken and beef skewers.

O Cacau
Praça S. João (Quadrado)
Tel. (55-73)3668-1266
Very famous restaurant with pleasant tropical-looking ambiance. Overpriced and overrated in my opinion. Annoyingly innefficient service.

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