A greek temple-facade stands next to a pool fountaining water.

The elaborate Atlantidz, an Atlantis-themed barraca. Photo © Rodrigo Teixeira, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Throughout the Northeast, beach-going would be unimaginable without the ever-present barracas, seaside restaurant-bars where friends and family settle in for a long day of chatting, drinking beer, and nibbling on portions of fried fish and seafood, interrupted by the occasional foray into the ocean to cool off (although many barraca devotees actually never set foot in the water).

The classic barraca is no more than a basic shelter made from boards and palm thatch furnished with a smattering of tables and chairs. However, over the years, the barraca has evolved, perhaps nowhere more so than along Fortaleza’s Praia do Futuro, which is renowned for its series of sophisticated megabarracas. Restroom and shower facilities and abundant food and drink are but bare essentials at these private beach clubs, which are outfitted with restaurants and amenities ranging from personal lockers to playgrounds and aquatic parks for the kids. Open daily, barracas really fill up on the weekends as well as Thursday nights, when legendary carangueijadas take place, along with shows of live rock, MPB, and forró.

Most barracas tend to cater to a specific clientele. Among the most popular are:

  • Atlantidz (Av. Zezé Diego 5581, tel. 85/3249-4606) — the most Las Vegas due to its kitschy decor inspired by the lost city of Atlantis
  • Cabumba (Av. Zezé Diego 3911, tel. 85/3262-4187) — unofficial gay and lesbian headquarters
  • Chico do Carangueijo (Av. Zezé Diego 4930, tel. 85/3262-0108) — where fresh crab is king
  • Coco Beach (Av. Zezé Diego 6421, tel. 85/3249-9879) — loved by families because of the water slide and weekend buffets (feijoada on Saturday and seafood on Sunday)
  • Crocobeach (Av. Zezé Diego 3125, tel. 85/3521-9600) — takes the mega concept to the max with a convenience store, Internet café, beauty salon, ice cream parlor, and surfing school
  • Vila Galé (Av. Zezé Diego 4189, tel. 85/3486-4401) — the most tony and tranquil (owned by the hotel of the same name)
  • Vira-Verão (Av. Zezé Diego, tel. 85/3391-6200) — headquarters of the bronzed and buff kite surfing and windsurfing set Should you prefer to mingle with locals more than gringos and the upper classes, rest assured that there are plenty of more rustic (and cheaper) barracas to be found.

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Brazil.