A Botequim in Rio de Janeiro is akin to a pub in England or a bar in America. In Rio de Janeiro, botequins are also called boteco or pe-sujo. These little corner bars are an excellent place to meet the Cariocas.
The Look of a Botequim
Most botequins are very small and neighborhood friendly. The walls are tiled and ceiling fans barely make a dent in the vapid humid air that flows in with each customer. The standard fare is a cerveja, bottle of beer or a chopp, a draft beer. A television is usually on in the corner blasting out the latest soccer match. Patrons, usually from the local area, come in for a drink and a bate-papo or chat.
Botequins started out as local grocery stores called boticas. Residents could pick up those one or two items they needed for dinner. Most of them had the basics such as flour, sugar, salt, butter and coffee. Each botica also had a counter or a few tables where neighbors would stop and get a cup of coffee, glass of wine or a snack and catch up on local gossip. Eventually the botica was reduced down to a simple bar serving minor fare. Today, botequins range from the standing room only bars called pé sujo to establishments with tables and chairs.
Finding a Botequim
Botequins are located throughout the city. The concentration is highest in the Centro district and Lapa where botequins were initially formed. Rio offers a Rio Botequim guide to let visitors know where the oldest and most popular botequins are located.
Best Botequim in town
The best option in South Zone is Jobi in Leblon, six times voted Best City Botequim. Among the appetizers on the menu, as portions of dried meat and cassava with dried meat. This very traditional Botequim and restaurant in Rio is the bastion of bohemia city 48 years ago. It’s open every day of the week and it is refuge for those who want to eat and drink something after or before partying. Another amazing option, also in Leblon is the Bracarense Botequim.
Eating in a Botequim
Most of the botequins serve small meals or snacks. There are several different petiscos that are usually available. Espetinhos de carne is grilled meat on a skewer. Empadas are pastries filled with meat and batatas fritas or french fries are a popular snack. There are also deep fried cod balls and fried shrimp to enjoy. Pasteis are the signature dish of all botequins. They are a crescent shape pastry filled with chicken, cheese, ground beef or palmito and deep fried.
What makes botequins so much fun is the ability for a visitor to get to know the locals. It is easy to strike up a conversation in one of these small establishments and the Cariocas are eager to get to know you.
Nowadays there are many bars inspired in old Botequins. They have various types of exquisite appetizers, without losing the original charm and taste of Botequim Food in Rio and the cold beer.
Some of the best trendy Botequins is the Botequim Informal (spread throughout the city, Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Lapa).
Refinement and good service are the characteristics of the Hotel Bars, such as Londra, located in the Fasano Hotel in Ipanema. Another great choice is Bar do Copa, which attracts all Jet Setters in the city, at the Copacabana Palace. If you’re in Leblon, be sure to visit the Bar D’Hotel and Bar da Praia in the Marina All Suites and Hotel Marina Palace that fit better for couples because of their intimate ambience.