It’s no surprise that Botafogo made it into Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Coolest Neighbourhoods in the World recently. It was Ipanema that was jostling for the top spot, having knocked off Copacabana decades ago. Yet the bohemian, beach-chic way of life in Ipanema seemed to slow things down a bit – after all when it’s hot outside and there is a glorious beach waiting for you, why rush things? The hippest new bars in Ipanema were largely expat-owned, such as Canastra and Bar 48, but after their rise, not a lot else happened there. In the meantime, Botafogo has been quietly opening up new, locally-owned bars at an extraordinary rate and suddenly it has become the hottest spot in Rio.
Right next to the metro, I love Le Depanneur firstly for its convenience. When you live far away from the action, easy to get to places become a firm favourite. However, even if it weren’t so accessible, I would definitely still make the effort to go there. It’s one of my favourite wine and cheese night places and, although I’ve never had a date there, the candles on the table and the open-air terrace set the scene for romance. Being in a busy part of Botafogo, the streets are constantly buzzing with people going to and fro their day to day lives, making it a great spot for people-watching. Inside there is a bakery with fresh bread, homemade cakes, and savoury snacks. It’s a chilled place to eat, drink, and catch up with friends.
Le Depanneur, R. Voluntários da Pátria, 86 – Loja A/B – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 8 am to 9:45 pm
Being a wine-lover, a place with the name Winehouse was always going to win my heart. The venue is small yet cosy and the outside seating extends the bar’s capacity. Although there are a couple of beers and cocktails on the menu, here it’s all about the wine which is a mix of international exports and locally-produced wines. Brazilian wine may not be a threat anytime soon to the global players on the wine market, yet I think there are some great ones available. Try the Brut Champenoise, a sparkling white made in the south of Brazil. They also serve a selection of snacks on the menu such as nachos, homemade guacamole, bruschettas (worth trying), and cheese boards.
WineHouse, R. Paulo Barreto, 25 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday 5 pm to 12 am. Thursday to Friday 5 pm to 1 am. Saturday 5 pm to 12 am.
The heaving crowds that gather there from Thursday to the end of the weekend serve as a testimony to the popularity of this spot. Attracting mostly a younger crowd, Comuna is a hotspot for mingling, drinking, and eating their famous homemade burgers that began the explosion of Rio’s gourmet burger market. It’s a typical hipster spot with the low lighting creating an atmospheric scene and the occasional pop-up art galleries held there giving the venue a creative edge. Arrive there late by Comuna standards – and this is anytime after 7 pm – and you’ll be lucky to get a seat. But the majority of the crowd happily remain standing up, chatting amongst themselves and others nearby. Once it gets crowded inside, people simply take their beers and burgers and make the most of the roomy pavement and street outside.
Comuna, R. Sorocaba, 585 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Tuesday – Wednesday 6:30 pm to 1 am. Thursday to Saturday 6:30 pm to 1:30 am. Sunday 6:30 pm to 12 am.
A relatively new bar on the scene, Marley’s Pub has begun on the right foot. We were invited to go there when it first opened and I immediately fell in love with the place. A month later, I went back and I was pleased to see that it was reeling in a strong crowd and had created a vibrant, fun atmosphere. The exposed brickwork and the long beams on the ceiling recreate a typical pub with charming touches such as a dartboard on the wall. The live band play anything from jazz to rock, offering a break from Rio’s samba soundtrack. Thursday nights have karaoke which was something I deliberately avoided (not just for my own dignity but for the audience’s poor eardrums) but those who met the challenge face on seemed to be having a whale of a time. I love the beers here; they are all artisanal beer and have local brands such as Hocus Pocus and Jeffrey’s on the menu, two of my all time favourite beers. The pastels were amazing too, especially the cheese and apricot ones.
Marley’s Pub, R. Fernandes Guimarães, 82 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday 6 pm to 12 am
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Bar Bukowski is no newbie on the scene, having established itself a fair few years ago. However, it is important to mention as it set the standards for Botafogo and helped shape the alternative scene that this neighbourhood is getting so well-known for. Bar Bukowski is one of Rio’s only true rock bars, playing nothing other than indie, metal, and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. The crowd that goes there are a mixed bunch but generally young professionals and older. The venue is large with several floors and spaces for live music and an outdoor area for chatting and drinking. If you’re feeling nostalgic for a bit of Nirvana, Metallica, or Guns ‘n’ Roses, this is your place.
Bar Bukowski, R. Álvaro Ramos, 270 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Wednesday and Friday 6:30 pm to 6 am. Saturday 9 pm to 6 am.
Near to Praia de Botafogo, Coordenadas Bar isn’t too far from the metro and is easy to walk there. I discovered this bar just a couple of weeks ago and instantly fell in love with the place. In the centre of the bar is a long, wooden table with chairs surrounding it that provide a comfortable place to chat with friends while checking out the rest of the crowd at the same time. I drank a good red wine when I was there while my friend stuck to the cocktails which looked great. The menu has a great selection of Brazilian bar snacks which were served quickly and were tasty. The whole bar is trendy and modern yet maintains a friendly, casual vibe.
Coordenadas bar, Rua da Passagem, 19 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 6 pm to 1 am.
Rua Nelson Mandela
Rua Nelson Mandela is a street right next to the metro which is choc-a-bloc with bars. My preference of bars there depends solely on which one has space by the time I arrive, as most serve typical Brazilian snacks and food, and a wide selection of beers and cocktails. One of the most popular bars there is Cafofo bar. With large TV screens, they often show the important Brazilian football matches and the place can get packed when there is a big game on. The area is casual and focuses on happy hour which draws in a large number of people dropping by for a drink or a few post-work.
There are a few other bars in Botafogo that look cool but I haven’t been to yet. I’ll list them here and if any of you have been, let me know! Watch this space though; they are on my list of spots to check out so within a short time I will let you know what they are like.
- Junge Garden bar
- Hocus Pocus DNA
- Champanharia Ovelha Negra
- Bar Teto Solar
- Big Ben bar (it’s actually British-themed!)
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