Eat + Drink

Easy Squeezy: What to Order at Rio’s Juice Bars

A staple of Rio de Janeiro’s street life, brightly colored juice, or suco, bars dot many of the city’s street corners. These perpetually busy bars offer a wide selection of juices, smoothies and milkshakes, as well as food and other drinks, but really, it’s the fresh and fruity concoctions you’ll want to toss back.

In seaside neighborhoods like Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana, famed juice bars like Bibi, Polis, Big Nectar and Beach Sucos attract loyal crowds. With open sides and few seats, customers tend to drink and eat at the counter or spill out onto the street. Behind the bars, elaborate displays of fruit, seemingly inspired by Carmen Miranda’s famous headdress, demonstrate exemplary skill in artistry and creativity and reveal a hint of what is on offer.

juice bar
Personalize your order, choosing from an array of fresh fruits. (Photo: Alamy)

Let Your Inner Juice Fiend Run Wild

Half the fun of stopping at a juice bar is playing with flavor combinations and trying the many fresh fruits that are displayed. Regulars like to order mixes, which have most likely been perfected over years of experimenting and can contain up to four or five ingredients or added extras. Popular combinations include mango, passion fruit and ginger; orange, beetroot and carrot; fig, honey and coconut water; or, the perfect antidote to Rio’s hot weather, an ice-cold pineapple and mint blend. Experimentation knows no bounds, and the staff behind the counter have heard it all, so get as creative as you’d like.

Experiment with Lesser-Known Fruits

As well as familiar fruits on display, which seem to taste even more delicious in Brazil, you’ll also see many lesser-known varieties particular to South America. Acerola, for example, is a very sharp kind of cherry, extremely rich in vitamins and antioxidants, which is offset nicely when mixed with orange juice and honey. Cupuaçu, a relative of cocoa from the Amazon region, tastes of fruity chocolate and is also bursting with antioxidants. The fruit that cashew nuts grow on top of , called caju, has mild white flesh that juices well. Açaí, the increasingly popular purple berry from the Amazon, is packed with energy and widely regarded to be a “superfood.” It is served frozen, either in a cup or a bowl, and topped with granola, banana and honey.

rio juice bars
Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up. (Photo: Alamy)

Place Your Order Like a Local

Some fruits will only be available at certain times of the year, and some juices may be made from pulp, but most will be freshly blended for you right then and there. They can be ordered natural, meaning freshly squeezed, and it is best to ask for no sugar (sem açucar) then add it later if needed. Vitaminas are thick, filling drinks like milkshakes that might include oats or whey protein. A combo of avocado, milk and chocolate powder is particularly delicious, as is papaya with milk. Extra shots of juices with health benefits, like ginger, wheatgrass or guarana, can be added to drinks for only a couple of reais.

When Hunger Strikes

The bars also serve freshly made fast food, like sandwiches (the misto quente is a classic toasted ham and cheese), omeletes, burgers and popular street snacks known as salgados. Some sucos have more extensive menus that include main courses — traditionally meat, rice and beans — or pizzas and desserts. Order and pay at the cashier first and then hand your ticket to the attendant. It’s as simple as that.