Brazil has a long history of German settlement, and while there is little impact of this to be seen in the appearance of either the city itself or its inhabitants, it is certainly prominent on the city’s gastronomic scene. German bars and restaurants are surprisingly abundant in Rio, and many seemingly ‘local’ establishments actually serve German food and beers.
The most obvious case in point is Bar Brasil, a local institution in the heart of Centro that specialises in top-notch German fare. The bar actually went by the name of Bar Adolf until the onset of World War Two, when the political situation led the owners to think a name change might be in order. One of the oldest and most traditional bar-restaurants in Rio, Bar Brasil serves up hearty portions of the type of dishes certain to have homesick Germans tucking in with great gusto. An amazing array of sausages, along with scnitzels and, of course, sauerkraut are served up here, while imported German beers make a refreshing (if pricey) change from the omnipresent Brazilian brands. As one might expect, this is not a favorite haunt of vegetarians in Rio, although the potato salad is a very tasty meat-free option.
Nearby, the leafy hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa is home to not one but three German establishments – namely Adega do Pimenta, which serves up a tasty version of the traditional Brazilian feijoada, made with German sausages; and two bars named Mike’s Haus. While the second bar opened up on the neighborhood’s main drinking and dining strip in 2010, it’s well worth carrying on further up the tramline to the original (and arguably still the best) Mike’s Haus. This informal and cosy spot was the preferred drinking den of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs during his years in Rio, and he was probably drawn as much to the laidback ambience as he was to the good range of German beers and the meaty treats on the menu. Non-carnivores with a sweet tooth are in for a treat too – Mike’s Haus does a delicious apfelstrudel, served piping hot, with a satisfying dash of cinammon and accompanied by a generous serving of vanilla ice cream. This branch lies a little off the main tourist drag, but its position right on the Paulo Mattos bonde (streetcar) line means that it’s easy to reach.One of the most charming spots in the city to enjoy German food, its leafy location means you’ll feel a world removed from the sticky streets of Centro or the busy beaches of the Zona Sul. You can find Mike’s Haus at Rua Almirante Alexandrino 1458.
Photo: Mike’s Haus, courtesy of Ademar Ribeiro