You may find yourself in Brasilia for work or during a trip across Brazil. And looking at the long and many highways, the dominance of cars and the lack of terraces and busy squares that you’ll find in other cities, you may wonder what you can do here outside office hours. Of course, you can do some sightseeing (find my top 3 highlights of Brasilia here), but there are nights and weekends to be filled. Having lived in Brasilia for a year now, I’ve come up with a list of bars, restaurants and other fun places to visit in the capital. Check out my Brasilia hotspots below! (not in any particular order :))
Brasilia hotspots – Bars
Although Brasilia has it all if you know where to look, there is something I do miss in this city: busy squares or streets with a high concentration of bars and terraces where you can wander around until you find a place you like. There is not really a terrace culture in Brasilia and the (wide open) urban planning of the city forces you to really think about which bar you want to go to. And if you don’t like it, it probably means you’ll have to get your car again to drive to the next. Same goes for restaurants, although there are a few exceptions.
- Hidden – Parque da Cidade (temporarily)
Hidden is a pop-up (wine) bar that opens every year for a couple of months, with every edition in a new place. They always look for abandoned places that are not used anymore, which they then decorate and restyle – with great success! Last year took place under a viaduct, this year’s edition is in an old bicycle storage in Parque da Cidade. The interior design is great (more towards the European style than the usual, slightly more conservative, Brasilia one) and with fantastic bands and DJs on the weekends, this is the place to be.
2. Publican, CLS 409, Bloco A
Great selection of European and Brazilian beers, relaxed atmosphere and the best music playlist if you’re into indie.
3. Mercadito, CLS 202, Bloco B
Half inside, half outside, this bar has a nice atmosphere and a good menu of drinks. The music, decoration and fun crowd make Mercadito for a perfect start of a night out. You can eat here too.
4. Dudu Bar, SCLS 303, Bloco A
One of my favourites. Dudu has two locations, but I prefer the one in Asa Sul. The cocktails are very nice, the food is good too, the service is excellent for Brazilian standards and there’s a good DJ on the weekends.
5. Bamboa, Setor Hípico, Área especial, Conjunto 22
Ok, not really a favourite of mine, but if you want to experience something truly Brazilian: go to this samba bar! Lots of families come here on Saturday afternoon to enjoy a lunch buffet (a la cart available too) and the live (and loud!) samba music. It’s pretty big. Bring your dancing shoes and earplugs.
6. Taj, SCES Trecho 2, Conjunto 35
Brasilia unfortunately does not have a lot of clubs to offer, but Taj is a nice try (I’m not trying to be sarcastic). There is a nice bar upstairs, with good cocktails that are being made by bartenders in white coats behind a pharmacist’s desk. I love this hipster touch, although it doesn’t really match with the giant buddhas elsewhere in the bar. Later at night the floor downstairs turns into a dance floor.
7. UK, SCLS 411
Can’t handle the sertanejo music anymore and longing for some rock vibes? Go to UK on Fridays and Saturdays! Good live music by a nice cover band.
8. Velvet, CLN 102, Bloco B
Another gem for indie lovers. Good live music or a DJ in a basement bar with cheap but strong drinks, what else do you need?
9. Mimo Bar, CLN 105, Bloco C
An outdoor area with a dozen of (container) stands serving food and drinks. The atmosphere is really great here with lots of young hip people.
Brasilia hotspots – Restaurants
- NAU, SCE Sul, Trecho 2, Conjunto 41
This place is where I come to take my special guests. The food (mainly seafood) is amazing, albeit not cheap. You can order a large dish to share with a few people (or bring the leftovers home), and my favourite starter is the burrata salad. Two tips: make sure that you tell the waiters that you want some time between the starters and mains (or they will bring everything right away) and reserve ahead, so you can sit on the veranda with a beautiful view of the famous Kubitschek bridge.
2. Contê, CLN 403, Bloco D
Good food, good cocktails, and a cozy ambience.
3. Girassol, CLS 409, Bloco B
Brazil is all about meat meat meat, but you can find great vegetarian restaurants, too. My all-time favourite for lunch is Girassol. They have a great kilo buffet (you pay per weight) which changes every day. Their juices are good too! And oh, their cakes… Go there for lunch, even if you’re not a vegetarian.
4. Authoral, CLS 302, Bloco A
With an industrial look, Authoral is quite the (hipster) exception in Brasilia. Brasilia could definitely use some more restaurants like Authoral. Do go there for the food too!
5. Daniel Briand, CLN 104
My favourite place for breakfast! Sundays are very busy and service is not great here, but the brunch deal is amazing.
6. Dylan Cafe, CLS 315, Bloco A
Owned by an Argentinian-American couple, Dylan’s is a little bit different from the usual in Brasilia. I really liked the coffee and eggs here and the owners are really friendly. The only disadvantage is the lack of an outdoor area.
7. Beirute, SCLS 109, Bloco A; CLN 107
A very typical place, this restaurants is packed at night – there’s a nice laidback atmosphere. Beirute serves Libanese food (of course) for a good price, although vegetarians may want to skip this one.
8. Nossa Cozinha Bistro, CLN 402, Bloco C
A cute little restaurant with good food and good drinks. A perfect place if you want a long and more intimate dinner with loved ones!
Brasilia hotspots – Other fun places
1. Handicrafts market, Torre de TV, Eixo Monumental
This is definitely a place to visit if you want to buy some souvenirs for family and friends back home. On the weekends you’ll find jewelry, crystals, clothes, dream catchers, wooden kitchen spoons, and lots more. You can have snacks here too!
Pontão is an area near the south side of the lake, where you can have some food and drinks, go for an activity on the lake or simply enjoy the atmosphere. I tend to avoid Pontão on Sundays, as it’s packed with families!
Have you been to Brasilia and if so, what were your Brasilia hotspots?