Much of Belém’s nightlife is centered on the Estação das Docas as well as the area near Avenida Souza Franco, confusingly known as “Docas.” For live music, check out the bairro of Condor, on the banks of the Rio Guamá (accessible by taxi).
For years, Belém’s bohemians have been congregating at Rubão (Travessa Gurupá 312, Cidade Velha, tel. 91/9122-4232, 7 p.m.–close daily), a classic boteco with cheap, icy beer, simple, tasty snacks (the crab is excellent), and a warm unpretentious atmosphere presided over by owner and local institution, Rubão. The tables out in the street are great for people-watching.
Beer connoisseurs who have grown weary of Brahma and Antarctica will appreciate Amazon Beer (Estação das Docas, Boulevard Castilho França, Campina, tel. 91/3212-5401, 5 p.m.–midnight Mon.–Wed., 5 p.m.–3 a.m. Thurs.–Fri., 11 a.m.–close Sat., 11 a.m.–midnight Sun.), which brews its own beer without the use of additives. Among the five varieties are “forest,” a traditional pilsen, “black,” an aromatic dark malt beer, and the exotic “bacuri,” flavored with subtle hints of this delicious local fruit. An ideal accompaniment is a portion of bolinhos de pato (crunchy balls stuffed with shredded duck, jambu, and tucupi).
The bar really fills up Monday–Wednesday during happy hour, when a fixed price gets you all-you-can-drink beer along with a buffet of appetizers. Saturday’s feijoada is accompanied by chorinho. The rest of the week, you’re likely to hear MPB or jazz.
The Roxy Bar (Av. Senador Lemos 231, Umarizal, tel. 91/3224-4514, 7:30 p.m.–1 a.m. Tues.–Thurs., 7:30 p.m.–close Fri.–Sat.) is a favorite haunt for those in search of a more quiet, intimate scene that continues into the wee hours. The walls are decorated with images of classic Hollywood stars. Famous names inspire the varied menu offerings, such as the Charlton Heston (beef filet in an creamy herb sauce with matchstick potatoes) and the Saddam Hussein (steak topped with ham and cheese served with french-fried potatoes).
One of the most seductive and popular bars in town, Boteco das Onze (Praça Frei Caetano Brandão, Cidade Velha, tel. 91/3224-8559, 4 p.m.–close Mon., noon onwards Tues.–Sun., cover R$6–8) occupies the historic Casa das Onze Janelas. Outside, a wide terrace gazes out over the Baía de Guajará. The terrace is popular during happy hour when Belenenses gather to drink chope or killer tangirsoscas (vodka and fresh tangerine juice), and nibble on petiscos such as casquinha de caranguejo com jambu (a fresh crab salad seasoned with jambu). For a full-fledged meal, head inside where stone walls, wooden beams, and candles create a romantic atmosphere enhanced by jazz, pop, and MPB standards.
Located in a handsome old mansion with enormous windows, Café Imaginário (Travessa Quintino Bocaiúva 1086, Reduto, tel. 91/3230-5235, 6 p.m.–3 a.m. Tues.–Sun., cover R$3) is a mixture of bar and mini cultural center that attracts local artists and musicians. This is one of the best places to hear live performances of jazz, blues, and MPB, held nightly from 11 p.m.–close. Another major draw is the legendary jambu pizza, whose main ingredient comes from an organic jambu plantation. Before indulging, knock back a caipirinha made with regional fruits such as cupuaçu, graviola, and taperabá.
Taberna São Jorge (Travessa Joaquim Távora 438, Cidade Velha, tel. 91/8146-4546, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Mon., 11 a.m.–midnight Tues.–Fri., 4 p.m.–midnight Sat., cover R$3) is a cozy corner bar (also open for lunch) that is known for its tomato red walls, plastered with images of São Jorge, as well as its original petiscos, most of which are based upon the classic Brazilian duo of rice and beans. Try the bolinho de feijão, crisp balls of manioc flour filled with black bean puree. On Tuesday nights, live chorinho is performed.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition