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Nova Capela, Lapa

96 Avenida Mem de Sá
Rio de Janeiro
Tel: 55 21 2252 6228's insider take:

One of the few places to eat well in Lapa, this century-old Portuguese restaurant has become an institution, much loved for its award-winning baixa gastronomia (rough translation: honest fare). This is the cooking that lets Brazilians feel at home, even when they're out, particularly on Friday nights, when the botequim bars and samba clubs lining Lapa's Avenida Mem de Sá are bursting at the seams with suited workers bellowing out salty stories. Burly old-world waiters in cheap black tie ladle out steaming bowls of chicken soup, pickled tongue, and roast kid, all served with endless rounds of almost obligatory ice-cold chope draft beer. Don't expect ambience: Nova Capela's interior has remained unchanged since an early-1970s refurb, with its florid brown wall tiles and Formica-topped tables brutally exposed by fluorescent strip lighting. But there's a reason this place has survived so long: Despite its lack of sophistication, the food is consistently tasty.

Open daily 11 am to 5 am.

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