By Claire Rivé, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Rodrigo de Freitas Lake (Lagoa) is one of the most exclusive residential areas in the city, but you don’t have to live here or join an elite country club to take advantage of the cool, leafy atmosphere of the lake and its ambiance.
Like almost all areas facing the water in Rio, Lagoa is buzzing with activity, with 7.5 km of running and cycling lanes, tennis courts, exercise equipment fringing the shore and fit Cariocas dashing around. Luckily for those with a mind for a different kind of leisure, Rio has built a veritable culture around sunset drinking and eating as well.
From the pillowed wooden seating in the open air, Palaphita Kitch lays claim on one of the best views of Lagoa and maximizes its appeal by regularly having great DJs on deck and a chilled outdoor lounge vibe. It also charges a premium for the ambiance, with some of the highest food and drink prices around the Lagoa.
Patrons should expect to pay from R$12 upwards for a beer (Stella) and double that for a caipirinha. Palaphita is a gem in terms of atmosphere but with a limited and equally pricey food menu, it is not for everyone. Palaphita Kitch is located at Av. Epitacio Pessoa, Kiosk 20, Parque de Cantagalo, Lagoa (and there is also another Palaphita on the other side of the lagoon in Gávea).
Another souped-up kiosk is Kantha Galo, which will make guests feel like they’ve stepped into that exotic beach bar they dreamed would be on every corner in Rio. Specializing in exotic cocktails and imported beers in interesting snacks, the affordable pricing comes as a welcome surprise. Kantha Galo is at Av. Epitácio Pessoa, Kiosk 19, Lagoa.
Moving away from the open air kiosks is Mr Lam, one of Eike Batista‘s last remaining successful ventures – one he launched with Sik Chung Lam after enjoying Chef Lam’s cooking on several occasions in New York City. They offer authentic Chinese cuisine, and almost more importantly superb staff service – a nice treat in Rio.
If a seat on the terrace can be had, it offers a stellar view of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) and the lake. The Peking duck the imported chefs serve up is almost as famous as the clientele who often patronize the lakeside restaurant, and a three-day advance order is requested for this dish. Mr Lam’s is another pricey outing, but the experience is worth the expense. Mr Lam is at Rua Maria Angelica, 21, Lagoa.
One of the newer enclaves around the Lagoa is set in the refurbished Lagoa Rowing Club’s old grandstand, the ultra-chic Lagoon complex. The shared terrace offers patrons five establishments to choose from and items from any of the menus can be ordered from anywhere in the open-plan area.
Quadrifoglio Caffé offers light Italian bites to accompany drinks but also offer main meals for reasonable prices, and another favorite is Giuseppe Grill Mar for its fine seafood dishes. One of the best features is that the elevated seating from the terrace affords an amazing view of Corcovado and Lagoa. Lagoon also houses a cinema and live music venue, Miranda, and is located at Av. Borges de Medeiros 1424 Lagoa.