If you’re looking for something to do on Saturdays in Floripa, come to Centro. Recently, the city has decided to try and revitalize the historically eclectic area near the Travessa Ratclif), a 50-meter alleyway in east downtown. I went to check things out yesterday.
I am fairly used to east Centro being completely dead on the weekends, so what I found was a really nice surprise. Once I left Praça VX and stepped onto João Pinto, it was like I’d entered another world. There were: not one, but two bands playing live music; street vendors selling vintage clothes, books and records; and, most importantly, people on the streets.
There was also just a lot to do. For one, a dance school on João Pinto held an open performance right on the street, which drew a pretty big crowd. Stores stayed open past their usual 12 pm closing time–nothing short of a Christmas miracle in August. The Instituto Arco-Iris had its doors open for music lessons and a zine workshop.
Central to the lively scene are the bars on Travessa Ratclif itself. Canto do Noel rules the Saturday scene, hosting a feijoada and roda de samba from noon until 6. The short alley crowds with tables, and it’s a good idea to get there on the early side (so, in other words, 1:30 or 2) if you want a table where you can hear the music. The samba had been shut down for a while before the downtown revival effort due to noise complaints from the neighbors, so if you’re sitting at one of the tables farther away, the music can be a bit hard to hear.
Probably my favorite part of any samba in Centro is this one man who will inevitably turn up. Centro has a few iconic characters, and he is definitely one of them. He is an amazing dancer–and a natty dresser to boot, always coordinating his hat with his shoes. If there is music, he will be there. He is my hero, and I guess he’s someone else’s hero too because he is immortalized in a mural on the side of the bar. Yesterday I met him for the first time, and it was nothing short of thrilling. I also took a video:
The music, as you can see, is excellent; the feijoada, perhaps less so. With the return of the samba comes a doubled price for the same so-so quality: whereas once they charged R$10 a person for a feijoada, they now charge R$25 for all-you-can-eat. But with marginally decent feijoada, how much can you really actually eat? This gringa, at least, can barely finish what’s considered a singe serving. Luckily, there are several botecos nearby that have better food for a more reasonable price if you want to eat out on the cheap. Across the street is a bar that serves pretty good pizza, and at the other end of the alley is a small lunch counter that serves good food but closes early. Cris and I ordered dobradinha, beef with onions, salad, and a beer at a boteco around the corner, and that came out to almost the same price as one feijoada. (Plus, they threw in a free shot of cachaça!)
You can easily spend the better part of a day in the area, and one of the best parts is that it’s near TICEN–so if you can’t drive after all the beer and samba, you can still get back home safely.
To get to Travessa Ratclif from TICEN, turn right on Rua Conselheiro Mafra after passing the Mercado Municipal. Cross Praça XV and continue onto Rua João Pinto. Travessa Ratclif will be three blocks down on your left.