By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – For those who want to try something other than Lapa, Copacabana or Ipanema, experiencing Laranjeiras and its great bohemian nightlife may be just the thing. From the open Praça São Salvador to the sophistication of Symposium Bistro, Laranjeiras will certainly please all tastes.
When it comes to cheap beer and an unpretentious atmosphere, there is no place like São Salvador’s praça (square).
Busy almost every day, the spot is a favorite for those looking for diversity and some live Brazilian music for free (specially on Sunday mornings) in an outdoor public place.
“São Salvador gathers people from all ages and tribes. It’s not rare to see cultural attractions at the square, like shows or artistic performances, especially during the evening”, says Pedro Cooper, Carioca and Laranjeiras’ resident for 24 years.
Among the square’s surrounding bars, Boteco do Seu Dodô bar is a really good deal. There, one can find extremely cold beer for good prices, a wide variety of cachaça labels and some typical Brazilian finger food.
If you really want to experience “São Salva” like a local, grab a drink at Seu Dodô and go enjoy it at the square, like most people do.
Not far from São Salvador is the Symposium Bistro, an elegant and discrete wine house. Run by Uruguayan expat José Hodara, the bistro offers the best national and international labels, which can be accompanied by a selection of cheeses, sausages or a main dishes, like the majestic Uruguayan chorizo beef.
A traditional spot for enjoying Laranjeiras’ bohemian life is Mercadinho São José (São José’s little market).
Situated at a former “senzala” (a slaves’ house), “Mercadinho” gathers a variety of bars and restaurants, including Pisco Gastrobar, specialized in pisco, Peru’s typical drink.
Besides its tasteful drinks made of pisco (like the famous Pisco Sour), the Gastrobar offers great artisanal beer labels, caipirinhas (made of cachaça, vodka or sake) and delicious Peruvian dishes, like its six different recipes of ceviche.
The picky ones looking for a more classy atmosphere should definitely try out Villa 25 Restobar. Situated at a sumptuous house that works as a boutique hostel, Villa 25 offers both traditional and authentic drinks, like the “citric momo”, made of Citron vodka, grapefruit juice and cardamom.
When the subject is culinary, Villa 25 will not disappoint you – especially its ham and mushroom croquettes with bechamel sauce.
The perfect combination of cold draught beer and real food can be found at Bar do Serafim, a Portuguese-Brazilian bar that attracts many Laranjeiras’ residents. Besides the popular beer labels for fair prices, Bar do Serafim’s most famous drink is the “maracujá da casa”, a secret alcoholic recipe made of passion fruit.
As a good traditional Portuguese house, Serafim also offers delicious dishes, like the seafood feijoada and the bolinho de bacalhau (codfish fritter).