Here's Why Botafogo Is the Hottest Neighborhood in Rio Right Now

Botafogo | © Halley Pacheco de Oliveira / WikiCommons
Botafogo | © Halley Pacheco de Oliveira / WikiCommons
Photo of Sarah Brown
20 September 2018

Botafogo is hot stuff in Rio de Janeiro. What’s so great about this particular neighborhood? It’s making way for a series of quirky, unique bars that each follow their own beat rather than follow the crowd. The area has an alternative, hipster flair while maintaining its casual, welcoming vibe, giving it wide appeal. It’s experimental, edgy and at the forefront of Rio’s coolest developments. Here’s why Botafogo is on fire right now.

So, what’s the driving force behind Botafogo’s sudden coolest neighborhood status? One of the key factors is the cheaper rent and excellent transport links that make it an attractive area for budding entrepreneurs to set up shop. These market advantages are leaving popular tourist spots behind as startups struggle to pay the extortionate property prices of beachside neighborhoods such as Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon.

Botafogo | © Halley Pacheco de Oliveira / WikiCommons

Brazil’s economic success in past years opened doors for traveling like never before, granting access to new cultures for millions of Brazilians across the country. This global exposure kick-started a growing interest in trying new international cuisines and talented chefs are at the forefront of this movement. The result is a wave of edgy new restaurants and bars that serve excellent food made by creatives served in a casual, unique setting.

Some of Botafogo’s more established spots include Bar Bukowski – Rio’s most famous rock and metal bar – and Comuna. Comuna is constantly ahead of the game by collaborating with local artists to expand its bar into a multipurpose space. Each month, Comuna invites a local visual artist to decorate a wall that is reserved as an artistic creative area, allowing them to decorate it however they want. Past artworks include maps, collages, videos, animations, paintings and photos. The idea is to create an original environment held together by a collaboration between the city’s most creative individuals.

Other exciting, upcoming bars include Coordenadas, Jungle Garden Pub and Marley’s Pub. Coordenadas is a funky, casual place that promotes a social atmosphere with its long, central table where groups of people sit together to sip on the bar’s smooth cocktails and nibble on Brazilian bar snacks. Jungle Garden Pub takes an aspirational approach to design, bringing Rio’s nature inside with its jungle-themed decor that sees walls draped with vines and plants. It invites local rock and pop bands to perform, taking a distinct step away from the usual samba and sertanejo styles of other typical Brazilian bars. The exposed brickwork and beer on tap create a homely, casual setting at Marley’s Pub. Yet it still stamps its own unique mark on what could be considered a traditional pub by re-purposing pipes and barrels as sinks and adding black lighting in the bathroom.

Then there are the spots that encourage slow eating while simply living in the moment. Winehouse is one of the few establishments in Rio catering to the growing interest in both local and imported wine. South Ferro offers a quirky combination of ramen options and pizzas by the slice thanks to the global inspirations coming from the Asian-American chef. Le Depanneur puts a European spin on its bakery by serving fresh, homemade quiches and crusty, light bread. It also serves a varied cheese board and a wide selection of wine, setting the scene for a perfect wine and cheese night on their outdoor terrace.

The thriving Rua Nelson Mandela street is filled with bars that hold tight to their Brazilian traditions with a combination of typical local snacks, cold beer served in chopps and big screens broadcasting the most important football games.

The interest in international cuisine is being catered for by several pop-up events throughout the neighborhood. CoLAB is a gastropub that serves locally-brewed beers and a range of globally-inspired foods, accompanied by live music on the weekends. It also hosts regular events for aspiring chefs to create a guest menu that draws inspiration from all around the world. Void creates a creative space for its events that combine the talent of local artists with fashion designers and local chefs.

Botafogo is at the peak of a creative wave inspiring a new form of entertainment that Rio has never seen before. There has never been a better time to explore this exciting neighborhood.

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