São Paulo may not have made the cut as one of the Confederations Cup's host cities, but its bars were buzzing nonetheless during the games. With the World Cup qualifying and Copa Libertadores championship coming down their respective homestretches, and the Brazilian league picking up steam, read on for our round-up of bars for the best game-day experience.
Rua Oscar Freire 163, Jardim Paulista (3088 7990/allblack.com.br).
The ultra-chic designer shopping street, Rua Oscar Freire, is the last place you might expect to find a good pub. True to its surroundings, though, All Black is an upmarket pub, catering to a sophisticated crowd while recreating the feel of a classic pub, with a black façade, dark wood throughout the interior and two projection screens for broadcasting big games.
All the usual suspects from across the pond are on tap behind the bar. But you can’t have it all at All Black: despite its merits, the bar is closed on Sundays, one of the principal match days.
Rua Mourato Coelho 1194, Pinheiros (2922 0314/artilheirosbar.com.br).
Set on a quiet strip of Rua Mourato Coelho, just a skip and a hop from Vila Madalena’s busy bar scene, modest Artilheiros Bar is all about football, from the array of team scarves and vintage football magazines adorning the white-washed brick walls, to its commitment to broadcasting all the Brazilian league, Euro League and Champions League football games.
The atmosphere is relaxed, and the space fills with natural light in the afternoons. The crowd is a bit more sophisticated than your average bar full of football fans, albeit some of them are decked out in their football strips. Almost every spot in the bar has a good vantage point of one of the four 50-inch screens. The only downside here is the limited beer selection. Keep it local and share a 600ml bottle of Original. A R$5 cover charge on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays covers live MPB and samba rock. When the football’s not on, naturally.
Alameda Ribeirão Preto 384, Bela Vista (3284 8338/thebluepub.com.br). Metrô 2, Trianon-MASP.
Downstairs, this is one of the cosiest little pubs in town, while on an ordinary weekday, the simple upstairs makes for a decent spot in which to pull up a barstool, or to slink round the back for a quiet table and some basic pub grub.
When there’s football on, though – and that might be the Brazilian league, Libertadores, UEFA or any number of other important international matches – the place gets absolutely packed, with a lively cadre of fans jostling for a look at one of the five TV screens. It’s not one for the claustrophobic.
Rua Leopoldo Couto Magalhães Júnior 480, Itaim Bibi (3074 4389/botecosaobento.com.br).
Located in the heart of Itaim, the spacious, high-ceilinged São Bento buzzes most nights of the week with post-work office crowds, with a higher contingent of short skirts and stilettoes at weekends. On match afternoons the vibe is a little more low-key, with big groups gathering in front of two large-screen TVs and a projector broadcasting Brazilian league games and the Champions League.
If you want a good view of the screens, arrive early – or bring binoculars. On sunny afternoons, the awnings are rolled back, making this a pleasant spot to catch some rays, though putting a dampener on the match acoustics. The service here is fast and efficient – they’ll have a fresh chope (draught beer) in your hands before you’ve finished the last one.
Rua Cotoxó 582, Pompeia (3676 0436/casadoespeto.com.br).
The ‘Espeto’ in the name of this small chain of bars refers to its edible offerings – espetos (grilled skewers) – circulated on trays by the (at times slow) waiting staff. If it can be skewered, they skewer it here, from sausage to chicken hearts, chunks of garlic bread and even chocolate-coated strawberries.
The food is not the main draw though – far from it, to be honest: it’s the expanse of urban garden hidden out the back, at the Pompeia branch. Head through the bar and down through the cascading levels of tree-covered patios to find a table. In addition to the bar’s 10 TV screens, three projectors are set up outside on match days, with live MPB to bookend the games.
Rua Gomes de Carvalho 1575, Itaim Bibi (3842 3300/hootersbrasil.com.br).
It may be trashy, and yes, there are scantily-clad Hooters girls serving up the beers in the São Paulo branch of this US chain of bars, but there is no denying Hooters’ credentials as one of the best bars in town for watching sport. In the spacious Hooters in Vila Olímpia, more than twenty 42-inch TVs line the timber-clad walls, showing everything from national and international football games to golf tournaments, tennis, baseball, basketball and UFC.
It’s Americana all the way with burgers, chicken wings and ribs on the menu, though the draught beer (Devassa) is Brazilian and as un-PC as Hooters, with its pin-up girl logo. There’s even a glass-walled play area for kids, if that’s your family’s kind of outing.
Alameda Itú 1529, Jardim Paulista (3086 0780/omalleysbar.net). Metrô 2, Consolação.
While far from being an authentic Irish pub, O’Malleys does a good job as a substitute local boozer for homesick expats, with stools at the bar, ales on tap, and an extensive menu of comfort foods including fish and chips, bangers and mash and an all-day Irish breakfast. Another big draw is the sports, with 13 large-screen TVs scattered through its two-storey maze of dark, low-ceilinged rooms, broadcasting pretty much every local, national and international football game that punters might want to watch.
O’Malley’s doesn’t stop there, also showing ice hockey, rugby, American football and even the occasional tennis match. And if it’s not available via cable TV, they stream it from the internet via a projector, though the broadband speed is not always up to the task. For the big games, brace yourself for rowdy crowds.
Rua Aspicuelta 644, Vila Madalena (3812 4342/posto6.com).
Holding down one quarter of the busiest crossroads in Vila Madalena, flanked by bars on all sides, this classic corner choperia is decked out with vintage photos and celebrity caricatures, and named after the iconic surfing spot on Rio’s Copacabana beach.
While it may be a far cry from its oceanfront namesake, Posto 6 is always busy, especially on match days. The best view for evening games is an alfresco one, with matches projected onto the white façade of the bar opposite (Cervejaria Patriarca), for the viewing pleasure of the Posto 6 patrons seated out on the sidewalk.
Rua Tucambira 163, Pinheiros (3774 3778/queenshead.com.br).
Punctuating its packed Thursday-through-Sunday schedule of live music, the Queen’s Head broadcasts football matches, though only the finals for major Brazilian leagues when São Paulo teams are playing, and international championship finals. The latter are shown on two large TVs and projected onto a 100-inch screen.
Expect a sizeable British contingent when the England side is playing – the pub is on the ground floor of the Brazilian British Centre, a contemporary building that’s also home to São Paulo’s British Consulate, British Council and Cultura Inglesa language school. The pub has had a crack at bringing some atmosphere to an otherwise charmless, windowless box of a space, aided by a solid selection of Scotch whiskies, and beer on tap, including London Pride and Old Speckled Hen.
Rua Aspicuelta 533, Vila Madalena (3097 9904).
Set in the heart of Vila Madalena’s bustling bar scene, this cosy, football-themed charmer has a low-key, local crowd, making it one of the more relaxed bars in which to tune into the action, though with only three TVs, it’s not the best viewing experience in town.
Devoted to Rio’s São Cristóvão football team, its red façade – as well as what seems like every square-inch of wall space inside – pays homage to the eponymous squad, as does its expansive collection of football photos and memorabilia. To guarantee a spot, you can reserve a table until noon – a good excuse to make an afternoon of it over a hearty lunch.