By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) is often less explored by foreigners, however, many Cariocas believe that the less white-washed, down-to-earth heart of the city offers a much more authentic experience. Where better to find this out than in the five best bars in of Zona Norte, so here is a list.
Dida Bar, Praca de Bandeira
Famed for its cozy atmosphere and personal touch, Dida Bar has been run by Dida and her children in its current incarnation since 2015. With a proud Afro-Brazilian culinary and cultural tradition, Dida offers weekly samba sessions on Friday and jazz on Saturday, while every month they cook special dishes from a different African country.
Bar da Portuguesa, Ramos
With its distinctive red and green colour scheme, this bar became even more iconic with a statue of famed Brazilian choro musician Pixinguinha, one of its more famous patrons, now sitting on the bench outside. Expect traditional Portuguese fare with a heavy emphasis on cod. Run by the same Portuguese lady, Dona Donzília Gomes, since 1972, this is a real slice of old Rio.
Bar do Momo, Tijuca
Recently mentioned as a stand-out of Tijuca, Bar do Momo has been described as a ‘gastronomic treasure’ by O Globo. It’s a small place, but offers tasty and innovative bar snacks and more: rice stuffed with sausage and cheese, shredded ox, cream of aipim, the list goes on.
Bar do Adão, Grajaú
Originating in the Zona Norte (North Zone) neighborhood of Grajaú, but now with branches in Ipanema, Copacabana and beyond, Bar do Adão was originally opened by a retiree who dreamed of running a bar. Its pastels have gone on to become famous throughout the city as some of the best. And with over fifty flavors of pastels, including shrimp, catipury and garlic, or brie with apricot and mushrooms, there’s something for everyone.
Cachambeer is a mecca for carnivores, with dishes such as the Porquinho Embriagado (Drunken Pig) pork ribs soaked in beer and then roasted, or Hipertension (Hypertension) which is definitely not for the faint of heart or stomach. The menu and the walls are filled with pictures of their crazy creations, all of which offer something outrageous and delicious in equal measure. Beware, this place is always busy, which, after you’ve visited, will make perfect sense.
Resident of Zona Norte, Karen Dantas, a professor of Portuguese, shared her feeling that there is plenty of nightlife and culture going on in the area without even having to choose a bar. “Praça Vahagem in Tijuca is a good example. It’s a place where people come to chat, to drink and to play music, like Baixa Gávea but in Tijuca!”