The cocktails are good, service is smooth and the menu offers a good range of seafood spreads, as well as smaller petiscos (or "bar snacks").
Occupying the beachfront bar that for many years operated as Carioca institution Barril 1800, Bar Astor's Rio branch is a spin-off from the much-loved Sao Paulo hangout of the same name.
Bar Astor serves typical Brazilian bar food alongside fish and seafood — Photo courtesy of Bar Astor
Aiming to bring a dash of 1950s-era chic to Ipanema's drinking and dining scene, the bar has quickly become a firm favorite with locals and visitors alike, and it's a popular hangout on weekend evenings; expect a lengthy wait for a table after 8 p.m. from Friday through Sunday.
Those lucky enough to score one of the patio tables are well rewarded with a view over Ipanema beach and out to Dois Irmaos mountains, as well as a chance for people-watching.
The spot – almost at Arpoador, where Ipanema meets Copacabana – is a thoroughfare for strolling beach beauties of both genders, surfers heading out to catch some waves and, later on, to glammed-up Ipanema locals heading off on a night out.
But it's the sundown display that really gets the heart racing. After an afternoon's sunbathing at Ipanema or Arpoador beach, you can dust the sand from your toes and head right over here to nibble on finger food, as you sip the first caipirinha of the evening and watch the sun dip below the water's edge.
The bar opens at 6 p.m., and it pays to get here just before the doors swing open in order to be sure of a table with a view. Once you've secured your spot, don't hesitate to order a caipirinha – Astor's version of the classic Carioca cocktail is dependably good – before turning your attentions to the food menu.
There are hearty plates of stomach-lining comida do boteco (meaty, carb-loaded bar food), but it's the seafood and nibbles that really shine.
Seafood-lovers can tuck into a plate of oysters – a firm favorite on the menu – while other tasty morsels include staples such as pasteis (little pastry envelopes stuffed with cheese, shrimp, palm heart or meat) as well as glitzier options such as canapés of roast beef, goat cheese and fresh tomatoes on squares of toasted bread.
More than a couple of caipirinhas is usually a recipe for a sore head in the morning, so customers may be wise to turn their attentions to other drinks as the night progresses.
The cocktail list includes a dedicated gin and tonic menu, as well as some excellent Old Fashioneds – a drink that's perfectly in step with the retro vibe at Bar Astor.