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Fortaleza's restaurants are surprisingly excellent. There's fine dining, including outstanding seafood at surprisingly low prices. In the main tourist zone, Praia de Iracema, the Rua das Tabajaras and its cross streets are lined with restaurants and patios. Take care, however, as many of these touristy establishments sacrifice quality for high turnover. There are some real gems, however, so with a bit of discernment it's possible to dine well. Farther out, Meireles and Mucuripe beaches offer excellent options as well. For a fun dining scene frequented mostly by Fortalezans, head to the ever-more-vibrant restaurant enclave of Aldeota.

If you find yourself in desperate need of a high-end coffee, try Santa Clara Café Organico, Rua Dragão do Mar 81 (tel. 085/3219-6900), located inside the Dragão do Mar cultural center. It features a range of excellent organically grown coffees and a range of chocolates and pastries. Open Tuesday through Sunday 3 to 10pm.

You Buy, We Fry -- The fresh fish market in the fishing colony at the end of Mucuripe beach offers what may be the shortest distance anywhere between catch and cook. Buy fresh prawns or fish at one of the market stalls (about R$8 for a half-kilo of prawns) and the stall at the corner of the market will clean, cook, and serve your meal to you on plates with rice -- all for R$6. Cold beer is extra. Open daily 2 to 10pm. No phone.

Good Eating at Aldeota -- The restaurant neighborhood of Aldeota is becoming ever more popular with Fortalezan locals. Just a short taxi ride from the beach hotels, the area around the Shopping Buganvília mall off Rua Prof. Dias da Rocha has recently seen the opening of a number of outstanding restaurants. One of the most beautiful restaurants is Lautrec, Shopping Buganvília, Av. Dom Luis 1113 (tel. 085/3264-4020), a small bistro offering outdoor dining and a menu of French and Italian seafood -- think flambéed prawns with tarragon or grilled prawns with pesto and mozzarella. For sushi, there's Ryori Sushi Lounge (tel. 085/3224-9997; www.ryori.com.br), inside the mall itself. For a more casual night out try Zug Choperia, Rua Prof. Dias da Rocha 579 (tel. 085/3224-4193; www.zugchoperia.com.br), a lovely bar/restaurant with a large patio, live music, and fabulous appetizers, including a variety of pasteis or cold-cut-and-cheese platters.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.