Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hot Spots in Rocinha

I have always wanted to showcase the good things about the favela. The media tends to only focus on the negative but these communities are so much more than drug dealers and poverty. In Rocinha there are over 6,500 businesses here. With a population of about 300,000, the people here want their own restaurants, stores and other places to shop. The biggest pride one can have living in the favela is to be able to control your own destiny and future, that is having your own business.

A couple of months ago I received visitors who were doing research about restaurants and night life in favelas. I decided to take them on a walking tour showing them the places where residents go to eat drink and hang out. We did kind of a "Pub Crawl" checking out drinks and the finger foods. We started half way up the hill and I proceeded to show them some of the most popular hot spots in Rocinha.

The first stop was BARRACO, a English Styled Pub. The decor is very modern and its obvious that the owners invested a lot to make this place top notch. They have been open since 2013. Very nice inside and you don't feel like you are in a favela. The Pub is attached to a hotel and bakery. Right outside the front door is a bus and van stop. The environment is calm not very rowdy. In Rocinha, this place is considered upscale. The prices are a little higher for food and drinks than some of the other places but the inside of this place is clean and fresh with nicely styled wooden tables and chairs. There are 3 big flat screens and 2 pool tables as the back of the pub. We stopped by for about 40 minutes and we were able to check on the party scene as the place was busy without being over crowded. Service was good. The chicken pieces with sauce were very good. The music was a slower version of Samba music with many people dancing. This place also had security at the door. I think because they are connected to the hotel, that their guests safety is their priority, which is understandable.

I had a chance to chat with the manager Luiz. They have two favorite drinks that sell very well, "Caipirinhas" and "Capivodka".  Prices are 10 reais for the Caipirinha and 12 reais for the Capivodka. There is a warm friendly vibe to this place.

Their hours are Monday, Friday and Saturday 6:00pm until 4:30am. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 6:00pm until 1:00am. As far as live Music, Monday is "Forro" night. Friday, Saturday & Sunday is a mix of a live band with Dj's during the breaks. They have free WiFi for those who want to stay connected to friends.

We walked down the hill about 80 meters we stopped at ROCINHA 40 GRAUS which I just featured in the previous blog post. A quick stop there to have a quick drink and check out the ambiance. This was more like a mini street party. For music there was a dj playing. See previous post for details on when they have a live band. They had drink specials and finger foods. They have free WiFi. Rocinha 40 Grau is open from 10:30am until 3-5am depending on the night. Thursday-Sunday there is always some form of entertainment with live bands or Dj's or both. Friday and Saturday they are open until 5:00am.

We moved on a little bit further down the street where there was a live Forro Band playing in a place called PIZZA LIT. Pizza Lit has been around for about 30 years. Serving some of the best pizza in Rocinha. They have hosted many cultural events there and now are jumping on the music scene to attract more people to their establishment.  Every Friday and Sunday they have live music which starts from 7:00pm until about 4:00am. Saturday Nights is UFC night or if UFC is not showing, there is always an interested football match up. We grabbed a drink and then a friend of mine caught my attention and joined our group. He advised us to check out a new place close by.

So after paying our tab at Pizza Lit, we walked not even 1 minute down the road and saw this new place called TAMU JUNTO. The place was definately new. Music was playing in the background and there was a huge big screen tv playing football. They have been only open for about 1 month and will be adding live bands and Dj's to their establishment. Staff was friendly and started to get crowded as we arrived. Looks like this will be one of the hot spots. They had drink specials and finger foods to start. The owner Douglas told me that eventually they plan to open for lunch time and offer full menu. They have free WiFi. Right now their hours are 7:00pm until 2:00am week nights and 7:00pm until 4:00am weekends. I wanted to show my guest other places so we continued to walk down the hill.

I wanted to show my guest best "por kilo" restaurant in Rocinha. I have always liked the food here at TRAPIA SOCIAL as there is plenty of choice and its not just finger foods or some meat with rice and beans. For guests who don't feel comfortable ordering off a menu, this is a great alternative. Price is by weight. Put what you want and the amount on your plate and you pay according to what your plate weighs. Vegetarians love this place as there is plenty of salads, vegetables, different kinds of beans and pastas. Their por kilo is open from 11:30am until about 6:00pm. After 6 they have full menu. Because we arrived after the por kilo we just had drinks. They have a fully stocked bar and their specialty drinks like the "Capivodka" are tops. The guests enjoy Caipirinhas and Capivodkas. They offer drink specials as well and on selected evenings have a live band. When its summer there is air conditioning and they have free WiFi. Best thing about Trapia is that there is plenty of seating for up to about 100 guests and it's open 24 hours.

We were close to ending our night tour but I had to end off with showing them one of the newer place called Esquina da Noite or Night on the Corner. It's is a small place but a outdoor place covered by a roof. When the crowd grows they spread tables and chairs on the street. Ivan, the owner says business is good. They are open from 5:00pm until 7:00am. Because of where they are located in the Via Apia, they get a lot of foot traffic. This is more of a meeting spot. There's music in the background but seems like a nice place to go after the parties. Good choice of drinks and finger foods. They don't have WiFi but my phone was picking up a free WiFi connection.

We spent about 7 hours in total checking out these various places. We started at 8:00pm and ended around 4:00am. It's awesome to see just how Rocinha is developing with all of these new businesses by locals. Night life and socializing is vital in Rocinha and for the last couple of years there were only 2 or 3 places where people would go but now there's new opportunities. New jobs being developed and the younger generation creating fun things to do. Most of the owners who I spoke to were mid to late 20's or early 30's. I had a great time showing my guests the night life in Rocinha. I hope more people come to check out what's going on here with the bars and night clubs.

Pub Crawl & Tour Experience
1.) Barraca
2.) Rocinha 40 Graus
3.) Pizza Lit
4.) Tamu Junto
5.) Trapia
6.) Esquina da Noite

If you want try out this kind of Favela Pub Crawl contact us at: