Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The epicenter of samba music, Lapa is arguably the most colorful area in Rio to mix, dance and drink with diverse characters from all over the city. From Monday to Sunday, there is always something going on in Lapa, and while the biggest party seems to be outside along the streets, there are many great bars to wet the whistle.
As a starting point, the super casual street-party scene at Bar da Cachaça is a great place to feel Lapa’s eclectic vibe – gathering young local undergrads and adventurous foreigners – along with inexpensive drinks.
As the name suggests, the bar owes its fame to its wide range of cachaça labels. According to the owners, they offer over 2,000 different types of cachaça.
Once at this bar, make sure to try its corn and ginger cachaças, but also the “jambu” one, made of an Amazonian herb that will make your entire mouth feel numb.
For those into a more high-profile venue, Casa Momus is just the right place to go. Run by two Italian partners, Costanza Assereto and Nicola Rombi, Momus’ interior design is already worth the experience, especially for its velvet benches, imposing counter and soft, cozy lights.
Among Momus’ highlights are its carefully prepared classic drinks, like the bloody mary (R$20), the pisco sour (R$22) and the negroni (R$22). The house also offers a great culinary menu, which includes Italian risotto, salads, meat and apetizers.
If drinking without music is not going to do it, the lively Bar da Boa might be just the trick. Busy for most of the week nights, it can actually get packed on Fridays and Saturdays. The combination of extremely cold draught beer and live Brazilian music explains Bar da Boa’s great success.
“I love it during the weekends, when it gets full of Cariocas singing and dancing along with the samba groups. For me, Bar da Boa translates what Rio is about,” says Maria Luisa Soto, Peruvian anthropologist who has lived in Rio for six years.
Offering live music everyday and inviting DJs on the weekends, Bar da Boa also has great eating options, like the pork ribs with paprika and barbecue sauce (R$59,90).
Lapa Café is one of Lapa’s favorite spot for the beer lovers. The bar, which has a Land Rover motorcycle decorating its interior, offers around 480 beer labels, including the house’s artisanal beers: the pilsen “Da Lapa”, the stout “Do Catete” and the wheat beer “Da Glória”.
Among its numerous labels, Tokai’s witbier is certainly an unusual and tasteful experience, including lemon and wasabi in its recipe. On Fridays, Lapa Café invites VJ Sabino Hart to entertain the audience with videoclips from the 1990s.
Another great place where samba and beer meet is Bar da Nalva. Modest, the bar has recently started to attract a lot of young people, mainly from the independent artistic scene.
Apart from its good dishes from Brazil’s Northeast and popular beer labels for fair prices, Bar da Nalva is especially busy on Fridays, when great samba groups perform for free at the venue.