Perfect pit stops

As the city gears up for Formula 1, we test drive the best motor-themed bars

Press image
Bikes park up outside Vila Madalena's Bar do Santa.
Bar do Santa

With over 7 million vehicles on the roads, a racing driver for a national hero, and Formula 1 taking over Interlagos each year, it’s not surprising that the paulistano passion for all things auto extends well beyond driving to and from work each day. And with auto-themed bars opening across the city, you don’t need to be a petrolhead, ride a Harley, or even have a ticket to the Grand Prix to indulge in a little motor madness.

‘Brazilians are passionate about their cars,’ explains Patricia Romanatti, a former rally navigator and co-owner of the rally-themed bar Pé no Porão. ‘There were so many football-themed bars in the city that it’s hardly surprising bars paying homage to motorsports have begun to open,’ she says. ‘Many people consider it Brazil’s second greatest sporting passion.’

Romanatti and her former driving partner Paulo Nobre opened Pé no Porão – which loosely translates as ‘put your foot down’ – a little over a year ago, and the result is a bar that looks just the part.

Old overalls and helmets worn by champion drivers fill the shelves alongside gleaming trophies – some with Romanatti and Nobre’s names on them – while rally-driving highlights play on big screens. Park yourself at the bar, order a Pé no Porão – a caipirinha made with Jack Daniels – and get in the spirit with rock from the likes of Motörhead.

Classy chassis

A newer arrival, albeit with a more vintage take on the theme, is Car Lounge in Tatuapé. The two-storey, glass-fronted bar, which opened six months ago, is a shrine to classic cars, where you can admire everything from a coffee table fashioned out of a V8 engine, to the hood of a Ford Mustang Fastback Eleanor 67 hanging on the wall, all the while sipping on car-themed cocktails like the Martini Porsche Carrera GT.

If you turn up in a respectable set of wheels, head for the terrace upstairs where, with a view of the carpark, you can join the wheel-heeled clientele comparing notes.

For motor madness of the two-wheeled persuasion, Johnnie Wash and Bar do Santa are the places to go. At Vila Madalena’s laid-back Bar do Santa, bikers can shoot pool or listen to cover bands playing rock classics while watching their beloved bikes getting the full wash-and-wax.

Two large glass boxes separate the high-ceilinged interior and the outside terrace, and are where, with a prior reservation and for a R$35 fee, you can give your Harley the nose-to-tail treatment.

Down at Johnnie Wash in Vila Olímpia, the wash-and-wax concept combined with 1950s rock’n’roll is a draw for bikers, as well as a bike-free after-work crowd. ‘People want to be part of the lifestyle ,’ says the bar manager Romano Garotti, of the city’s growing community of bikers and bike wannabes. A packed bar on Friday nights is testament to that.

Pull up a stool, order a MaracuJack – a passion fruit caipirinha with Jack Daniels – and kick back to watch a 1955 Triumph TR5 Trophy getting the works. And then sticking with the motor theme, do yourself a favour and take a taxi home.

Bar do Santa Rua Fidalga 330, Vila Madalena (3819 0177, 
Car Lounge Rua Azevedo Soares 2150, Tatuapé (4304 1745,
Johnnie Wash Rua Dr. Cardoso de Mello 570, Vila Olímpia (3044 1195,
Pé no Porão Rua Clodomiro Amazonas 1041, Itaim Bibi (2338 8510,

By Urmee Khan


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