The best Açaí in Rio

On Friday, the sailing media center closed at noon to give athletes, volunteers and journalists a chance to prepare and attend the opening ceremonies. As I was ahead in my writing, that meant a free afternoon to explore Rio.

I had a leisurely lunch with some other journalists at a local restaurant. Here in Rio, many restaurants are buffet-style and charge by the weight of your plate. (Which only works if you remember to weigh the plate — whoops! I figured that out about 3 bites in…)

I made my way back to my apartment for a short siesta after running errands, but I didn’t want to waste my time here in Rio. Out of curiosity, I googled “Best Açaí in Rio de Janeiro.” The overwhelming favorite was a place called “Tacaca Do Norte” just 1 kilometer from my apartment. No excuse, I had to go.

Açaí is the name of a berry that grows in Brazil and the northern regions of South American (and also Trinidad, apparently). The berries grow on the Açaí palm tree. I haven’t read any scientific reports on the fruit, but apparently it’s loaded with antioxidants and other good stuff. It’s often called a ‘super food.’

An Açaí palm with berries. Source: Pinterest

A popular way to eat Açaí is to freeze the berries and then blend them. It produces a really tasty treat like ice cream, but a little less sweet. Some Brasileiros top it with granola or tapioca balls. (hard pass on the tapioca…)

Off I went down the street to Tacaca Do Norte. (By the way, Tacaca is the name of a sour soup with shrimp cooked in northern Brazil. Perhaps I will try that later this week!) The store is very small with a counter around the cooking area and maybe a dozen stools. No one spoke a lick of English but they have a massive sign advertising their famous Açaí, so pointing worked out.

A yummy bowl of Açaí at Tacaca Do Norte in Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro

I haven’t ever had Açaí before, so I’m not sure how it compares to any in the states, but it was tasty! Sweet enough without being overly sweet, but so filling I couldn’t finish my (very generous) bowl. I guess this just means I’ll have to try Açaí again in Rio to confirm that Tacaca Do Norte serves the best of this frozen specialty!