Jericoacoara is usually called Jeri which is lucky for me. I always think it’s weird when people pronounce it (Jerry-qwah-qwah, where did the last -ra go?!) I came from cities where people give you too much information, you check in to restaurants, homes, and workplaces. Every location has 500+ reviews on what exact thing you should do or order with substitutions. While that much data is overwhelming, it is quite the opposite extreme when I get to a place like Jeri and can barely find a map of the five roads. I have never felt the need to add a review to a place with hundreds, but I certainly would have appreciated a map in a town where I don’t speak the language. So in a delayed giving back of my Yelp usage, here is a hastily drawn map of some restaurants and stuff in Jeri. This is not drawn to scale in any way and probably has an inaccurate number of locations. I’ve included some of the places I found interesting below.
I consider anywhere you can grab a meal for less than R$10 to be a cheap restaurant. You can usually snag a dish at the nicer restaurants for anywhere from R$10 – R40. At many of the nicer restaurants, entrees are meant to be shared by two. I poked my head in one restaurant who saw that I was alone and they offered to cut the price in half for my un-coupled eating experience. Drinks at the barracas (carts) can be had for R$3 – $R6 depending on whether you want cachaca (cheaper) or vodka and just lime or other fruits. The cheapest place to buy the same two or three types of watery lager is in the supermarkets. You’re allowed to wander the streets with your drinks, so you may as well grab it half a block down at the market. It really only takes about 10 – 15 minutes to walk across all of town.
1 – Ah my priorities. This is the best ice cream shop in town. They are also a reasonably priced cafe and serve tapiocas, the dry manioc/yucca flour crepe that is a specialty of northeastern Brazil and the native people. I found them, and the carne de sol (sun dried beef) that often comes in them, to be a tad dry even with the olive oil that often accompanies them. I am not usually a fan of crepes in general.
2 – What I’d consider the second best ice cream shop in town. They do have the best acai in town. Acai here does not mean the magical superfruit we hear about in America as juice. Here it is a specific dish of cold blended acai puree that is just a smidge warmer than a sorbet that is often topped with granola and banana. Of all the ice cream shops, this place has the coldest one without being icy. I’d recommend getting it with all the toppings but be forewarned it’s a filling high calorie food, so the large may be too much.
3. The juice stand and the most sanitary/crowded local cheap restaurant are definitely gems. Grab a tasty pineapple with mint juice (abacaxi com hortelã) for R$1.5 if you can find the store owner who is usually too busy lounging near the truck drivers. The restaurant is tasty but can get rather busy as they only have four tables. One of the local specialties to try is moqueca, a thick seafood stew food in many regions of Brazil. In this region, it is thick and yellow, like the consistency of a curry without the curry flavor. It can come with different types of seafood, but the specialty here seems to be arraia (stingray), a bony but tasty fish. Or you can do what I did, point at a random thing on the menu (figado de boi), and then grimace slightly when the liver and onions arrive. The cheaper restaurants will typically serve your food with rice, spaghetti with a garlic or oil sauce, beans, a small salad or few vegetables, and manioc or yucca flour. The restaurant will also serve you a glass of juice for R$1.5 with the added benefit of pure juice without the added sugar of the juice stand next door. Truth be told, the juices were really quite tart or bitter and needed sugar, it’s just terrifying to think how much.
4. Dona Amélia is a restaurant I never ate at and the open air location for forro dancing on Wednesday and Saturday nights. I found this to be the most interesting late night activity as you get to watch tourists and locals meet to dance this popular local dance. I appreciate that it does not get overly crowded like some of the other venues in town but dislike that like all the other venues, the club does not really get going til two or three A.M. Consequently, the place doesn’t really shut down til past sunrise. I’m not sure if I like live accordion and triangle music to do that all the time.
5. Restaurante Carcara is a nicer restaurant (R$25-R40 for entrees) that serves some of the dishes of Brazil otherwise not really found in town. Most of the pousadas (inns) and restaurants are run by foreigners, so it was nice to find a place that served Brazilian food. I can go elsewhere to find Italian food thanks. I tried the feijoada (a pork, beef, and black bean stew with many accoutrements) that is only served on Saturdays and moqueca carcara (a tomato based variation of moqeuca stew). Of the nicer meals I had in Jeri, this was my favorite place.
6. The Fretcar (pronounced freshcar, just to confound my pronunciation understanding) stop where the cheapest option to get into town from Fortaleza arrives and leaves. It is next to a travel agency/internet cafe where you can buy tickets. There is usually a bus in the morning and afternoon that will take you into Fortaleza beach areas, the bus stop and the airport. The late night bus which occasionally leaves will take you to the Fortaleza bus stop.
So there you go, that’s the Jeri I saw and ate. I’m sure that map is missing all sorts of important things but I am doing it from memory. I hope it helps someone more than the few pages Jericoacoara seems to get in guide books. I have not even covered the hundreds of pousadas that dot the landscape. I had heard before I got here that Jericoacoara is a place many people stay longer than they intended. For most travelers, I would recommend only staying a few days if you need your days filled with activities and you are not a kite or windsurfer. For me, I think I’ve stayed just the right amount of time. I enjoyed my month long stay and I am ready to leave, thanks for the fun times Brazil. I’ll be back to check out the rest of you sometime.