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Opening a boteco in Vila Madalena is surely an easy win, with thirsty crowds flocking to the hilly ’hood almost every night of the week. But what about a genuine, cheap, street-corner pé-sujo (down and dirty) bar for locals amid the mass of copycat casas? That’s a bit trickier.
When we stumbled across one such place, the identikit boteco checklist seemed redundant: flashy website? Nope. Website? Negative. Valet parking? Three guesses.
So, what did it have? Cheap beer? Check. Comedy nickname? Absolutely. Buraco do Sapo, or as it’s officially known, 'Riba’s Bar e Lanches', is down a steep slope at the foot of Rua Harmonia, which, in heavy rains, becomes a washout, hence the sobriquet ‘the frog’s hole’.
'We have to grab the chairs and tables from the pavement or everything gets washed away,’ says barman Eudis, pointing out the metre-high metal ‘floodbarrier’ gates which can be slammed shut in the event of tropical downpour. ‘I’ve seen cars washed away!’ says Maria, who is having a Saturday afternoon beer on a sunny afternoon with her lawyer husband ‘Doutor Zé’.
The fried manioc (R$13) is a bit sketchy – OK, it's very sketchy – but we like the friendly all-comers vibe and the availability of seats at busy times. As long as there are no dark, ominous clouds on the horizon, of course.