Ouro Preto, with its unique baroque architecture, steep cobblestoned streets and many ornate churches – is indeed a very popular tourist destination in Brazil. While this small town has a lot of charm, at the same time it is a real tourist trap and you can expect to pay somewhat higher prices for dining – even higher than RIO.
Dining for Vegetarians in Ouro Preto is somewhat challenging, as there are virtually no bonafide vegetarian friendly restaurants or cafes. Sure, you can go into almost any Italian restaurant (and there are many) and order a salad or have some pasta. In most of these Italian restaurants, the food is mediocre and the prices are a bit on the high side. A simple pasta dish will set you back at least R$15-20 ($8 –11USD) and the same for a salad.
After doing some personal reconnaissance, I was able to identify some “go to” places - the best find was this small sandwich café located on the far corner of the plaza (forgot the name of the place). Popular with the University crowd, the café had a good selection of sandwiches, smoothies as well as a soup of the day. Their vegetarian sandwich - loaded with veggies, including beets, carrots, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber and mushroom - was very tasty. It was so good that I ate there three times during my 5-day stay. The cost was $7.50USD – good deal!
My last night in town, upon recommendation of a young Brazilian couple, I went to O Passo, a very classy Italian restaurant that specialized in pizza. On Thursday night, they have a Special Pizza Buffet where you can eat as much pizza you want for a set charge of R$30. The waiters come around every 5-6 minutes or so with different types of pizza. The place was really jamming – most of the patrons were Brasileros with a sprinkling of gringos.
Surprisingly they had at least 8 vegetarian pizzas to choose from – they even had a chocolate pizza. I wolfed down about 8 slices before I said “no mas”. The slices were small and the pizza had a very thin crust. Overall the pizza at O Passo was better than most places I’ve been to in the USA. Highly recommended!