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Salads are very popular in Rio, and it will be easy for you to find a good restaurant near your hotel. Self-serve restaurants, listed under budget values, traditionally have a well-stocked salad counter with assorted dressings. Aptly named Gula-Gula in Ipanema is an excellent choice (gula means gluttony in Portuguese). At other restaurants like Doce Delícia, in Ipanema, you choose the ingredients and dressing, and your salad is custom-prepared for you. If you are counting your calories, be forewarned that many salad bars keep a number of very tempting desserts. You can always go for a power walk along the beach later and... you're on vacations after all!
Vegetarians and vegans: this is also the list you are looking for. Incidentally, many restaurants in Rio claim they serve natural food. This flexible concept may include anything from brown rice, to a quiche of white cheese and ham (trés natural). In Ipanema the pioneer was Natural, now renamed New Natural. Read the menus carefully, and ask about ingredients if you are in doubt. Fontes and Low-Cal serve organic food and juices. Juice & Co in Leblon is another good bet with creative juice combos.
Espaço Alimento, hidden inside a mall, owes a large part of its clientele to the gym on the mezzanine floor. As a lot of TV actors work out there, it's easy to run into familiar faces from the soap operas. In Leblon our praise is to Vegetariano Social Club, with creative dishes and a cozy atmosphere.
Celeiro is considered by most the gourmet alternative. This family-owned restaurant-cafe is a reference for its delicious salads, heavenly desserts, matzas, and Jewish delicacies. The outdoor tables are perfect, with a view to the constant parade of people - Rua Dias Ferreira is lined up with restaurants.
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