At 6pm, the streets of Vila Olímpia may look like a working-stiff stampede, but that means this newish neighbourhood is ground zero for the after-work cocktail. The area’s bars seem united in their mission to recreate the warm glow of early 20th century nostalgia, and it is perhaps what’s needed to counteract the somewhat cold and impersonal skyline of office buildings and tower blocks that has sprung up here in recent years.
Sidestepping the frenetic Rua Olimpiadas, head towards the inviting glow of Seo Gomes on Rua Gomes de Carvalho, with its polished, ’50s-inspired decor. Sparkling tiles line the walls and floor, set off by a decidedly retro shade of green. Smart waiters in flat-caps buzz around with trays of chopes and it wouldn’t seem out of place if Mad Men’s Don Draper were to walk in, light up a cig and order himself a whisky. The crowd is predominantly male, with brusque conversations drowning out the live duo playing an unimposing bossa nova, but the self-service kilo buffet is a winner. Order some chopes and settle in.
Back out on Olimpiadas, skip the garish and newly opened American outfit Hooters and head up to Excelentíssimo Botequim instead. Another mid-20th century inspired chopperia, but with less sheen than Gomes, Excelentíssimo has a more laid-back and lived-in vibe. The waiters are quick, greeting you with a tray of chopes – they don’t waste any time.
Nearby is Bar do Arnesto. With its high ceilings and multicoloured tiled floor, Arnesto has a somewhat more modern aesthetic than most of the other bars in the neighbourhood, but not much more. Modelled along a ’60s samba theme, Arnesto has live samba kicking off about 9pm on weekdays. There’s a younger crowd here and the pace picks up as groups of friends enjoying bottles of Bohemia and caipirinhas pack in.
To wind down the evening, head to ever-popular Bar do Juarez. The two large bar areas have a subtly art-deco-themed aesthetic, and are both packed with an older crowd, merrily eating and drinking. Juarez offers a wide selection of whiskies and cachaças and the table-top mini-grill of beef cuts is – not surprisingly – very popular.
Seo Gomes is on Rua Gomes de Carvalho 1214, (3846 3625, seogomes.com.br)
Excelentíssimo Botequim is on Rua Ramos Batista 491, (3842 4221, excelentissimo.com.br)
Bar do Arnesto is on Rua Ministro Jesuíno Cardoso 207, (3848 9432, bardoarnesto.com.br)
Bar do Juarez is on Avenida Juscelino Kubitschek 1164, (3078 3458, bardojuarez.com.br)