Tropicalia-inspired artwork at Bar do Mineiro — Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Galindez
Santa Teresa truly feels a world apart from the rest of Rio de Janeiro. This artsy neighborhood is known as the bohemian heart of Rio. And though new bars and restaurants are cropping up with increasing frequency along the cobbled streets of this historic bairro, Santa Teresa’s hipster crowd remains loyal to one of the neighborhood’s long-standing social hubs: Bar do Mineiro.
While the well-heeled residents of upscale Ipanema and Leblon concern themselves with the depth of their tan and the sleekness of their hair, Santa Teresa’s socialites are more likely to be discussing the contents of their record collection or their latest performance art piece.
Located high on a hillside overlooking Centro and Guanabara Bay, this shabby-chic neighborhood has long been an enclave for artists, musicians and assorted eccentric intellectuals. The mountain breezes that freshen the air here no doubt make it a welcome relief from the sticky streets of downtown Rio.
Opening right onto the street along Santa Teresa’s main eating and drinking strip, Bar do Mineiro is the meeting point of choice for clued-up young locals, who head here as much for the hearty, tasty dishes as for the vibrant atmosphere and free-flowing beer.
As an example of the Rio de Janeiro boteco (relaxed bar-restaurant) at its best, look no further. On the menu are dishes typical of Brazil’s Minas Gerais region, which sees meat take center stage, typically served in a type of stew along with aipim (or yuca) and alongside those Brazilian staples rice and beans.
Hearty fare at Bar do Mineiro — Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Galindez
If that all sounds a little too heavy, then try the bar’s other specialty – its plates of mini pasteis (little fried pastries), which come stuffed with meat, beans, shrimp or cheese. Ask for a mixture to share if you can’t decide.
To wash down your food, sample a tasty, potent batida de gengibre – sugar cane rum infused with spicy ginger.
As you enjoy your meal, be sure to take note of the artworks and photographs that adorn the whitewashed walls. These celebrate the acclaimed Tropicalia movement of the 1960s and '70s, which saw politically-minded musicians, film makers and poets use their art to send out thinly veiled messages against the military dictatorship of the time.
As befits this musically-savvy neighborhood, Bar do Mineiro regularly releases mix-CDs, which are snapped up by patrons. This is regardless of the fact that there is a no-music policy here, and the only sound to be heard in this kooky boteco is the cheery chatter of the tipsy clientele.
For a great introduction to Rio’s alternative social scene, arrive here for a meal and drinks on a Friday evening or sunny Sunday evening. Then make like the locals and sip your drink while perched on the kerbside in front of the bar.