The Quirkiest Restaurants and Bars in Rio de Janeiro

Mama Shelter in Santa Teresa | © Mama Shelter
Mama Shelter in Santa Teresa | © Mama Shelter
Photo of Sarah Brown
26 September 2017

The bar and restaurant scene in Rio de Janeiro is flourishing, with new venues popping up all the time. For a dining and drinking experience that goes beyond just good food and potent beverages, check out these quirky bars and restaurants in Rio de Janeiro that embrace all things different, jaw-dropping and unconventional.

Jungle Garden Pub

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub, Brazilian, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub, $$$
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Jungle Garden Pub, Rio de Janeiro
Jungle Garden Pub, Rio de Janeiro

The potted palms, the leafy ceiling, and the vines creeping up the walls all add to the jungly vibe of Jungle Garden Pub. Playing on Rio’s extraordinary mix of urban and nature, this pub brings the outside in to create a striking setting that instantly puts guests at ease. Coupled with the excellent cocktails and not to mention the live Brazilian pop bands there, Jungle Garden bar sets the scene for a memorable night out.

Mama Shelter

Bar, Brazilian
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Bars in Santa Teresa Rio de Janeiro
Mama Shelter Bar in Rio de Janeiro | © Mama Shelter Bar

A mix of hipster and modern elements contribute to the chilled out vibe at Mama Shelter. Quirky interior design pieces such as staircase seating, piles of cushions, and rows of potted plants all add to the uplifting and casual experience. Based in bohemian neighbourhood Santa Teresa, Rio’s artistic and creative hub, Mama Shelter is a cocktail bar, restaurant, and hotel all rolled into one.

Ten Kai

Restaurant, Japanese, Seafood, Sushi, Asian, $$$
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The dimly lit environment with low seating creates an intimate atmosphere at the Japanese restaurant, Ten Kai. With wooden features and elegant furniture, the aspirational decor is certainly pleasing but it’s the menu that deserves attention for its quirky choice of ingredients. As well as the typical food items you would expect to find on the menu, such as salmon, tuna, and oysters, other more unusual ingredients include crickets and eels.

Plage Cafe

Cafe, Contemporary
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Breakfast and brunch in Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Plage Cafe is inside this former mansion known as Parque Lage | © Fwellisch / WikiCommons

Once you’re settled into Parque Lage’s grandeur setting, you’ll find it hard to leave. Plage Cafe is located at the back of Parque Lage, a former mansion turned visual arts school and public monument. A few twisted metal chairs and tables elegantly line-up next to an Italian-inspired pool in front. Take a few steps back to see the Corcovado mountain stretching up just behind the building and the mass of trees from the Tijuca forest creating an exotic skyline. Head there for a healthy salad and a freshly-squeezed fruit juice or treat yourself with an indulgent cake and a glass of bubbly.

Zazá Bistrô Tropical

Restaurant, Bistro, Moroccan, Asian, Seafood, Brazilian, Mediterranean, $$$
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Zaza Tropical Bistro
Zaza Tropical Bistro | © Zaza Bistro

The famous Ipanema beach is just one block away from Zazá Bistrô Tropical, a quirky two-story Moroccan-style restaurant on the corner of Ipanema’s main street. The downstairs has a pleasant, charming atmosphere yet it’s the upstairs dining area that sets the scene for a memorable night. Guests take off their shoes before padding across the soft, carpeted floor to the large futons and low-rise tables. The low-lighting creates an atmospheric mood and the quirky touches such as the hanging fairies and unusual artwork all add to the unforgettable dining experience.

48 Bar

Bar, Gastropub, Brazilian, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub, $$$
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Trendy newcomer 48 Bar has brought some much-needed alternative edge to Ipanema. With artworks by local street artist Marcelo Eco adorning the walls and large steel barrels repurposed as tables and chairs, the unusual decor reels in crowds of curious travellers and Rio’s alternative crowd every weekend, where DJs play live on an elevated platform and guests spill out into the street with potent caipirinhas in hand.

CoLAB

Coffee Shop, Brazilian, Vegetarian, Coffee, Tea , $$$
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Making up a part of Botafogo’s trendy new nightlife scene, CoLAB is a bar-stroke-gastronomic hub, as well as the venue for several spontaneous pop-up events that focus on anything new and quirky from fashion to international cuisines. The minimalist design creates a bright and breezy setting and is popular among Rio’s residents for an after-work drink during the week. The night there starts chilled and calm but by 10 pm, the guests find room on the pavements outside as the venue gets packed quickly.