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The city’s most popular gay area (known as Farme de Amoedo) is on Ipanema Beach; the Rua Teixeira de Melo and the Rua Farme in particular have lots of restaurants and bars to hit up before you check out the clubs.
But if you’re interested in something more off the beaten path, check out the northern area of Lapa, a former red-light district filled with clubs, bars and music venues and a mixed crowd of gay and straight folks.
Most locals eat dinner around 8 or 9 p.m. and tip 10 percent. Restaurants are okay with casual wear (t-shirts and sneakers) but swimsuits and flip-flops are considered tacky. If you have any food allergies, bring a note about them translated into Portuguese.
Rota 66 – A small but beloved Tex-Mex spot. Be sure to try their Hermanos, (stuffed and fried tortillas), Caipimix (fruity rum cocktails) and fried ice cream for dessert.
00 Bar, Restaurant & Club – This posh and beautifully designed dance club has a restaurant with an outdoor terrace and a popular gay night every Sunday. Be warned though, they say it’s called Zero Zero Bar because nobody ever scores there.
Uruguai – Even though it’s just a barraca (food stand), this eatery (located at post 9 on Ipanema beach) serves up delicious meat sandwiches right on the beach. It’s only open from noon to 5pm though.
Frontera – The casseroles, salads, meats, and breads at this Dutch-run cafe will dazzle you — there’s over 60 dishes to choose from, and did we mention they have an all-you-can-eat lunch option?
Fontes – Although it’s a vegetarian spot (and the location is a bit hard to find), the revolving menu of well-cooked entrees make it worth a visit (or two) and the weekend feijoada (beans in meat gravy with pork cracklins) is to die for.
Spend half an hour there and you’re sure to meet lots of chatty, friendly locals who will suggest great places to visit. Leave your valuables (phone and camera) at home and bring the rest in an informal looking bag.
Ipanema beach is a beautiful, 15-mile-long stretch of beach that is marked by different numbered posts — the gayest (and sexiest) spot is between post (posto) 8 and 9. You can spot the area by the rainbow flags sold by local peddlers.
Also, check out Copacabana beach, northeast of Ipanema. The area in front of the Copacabana Palace hotel in particular — known as the Bolsa (bag) — is popular with gay bears and trans folk.
Bars and Clubs
Be warned, some of the clubs don’t really get hopping until 2:30 in the morning and some can get crowded or leave you in a long queue. Cover charges are common and tend to go up as the night goes on. Some clubs also give you charge card and then ask you to pay for your drinks and food when you leave.
The Week – A spacious, stylish dance club with great music, an eclectic crowd, two glorious dance floors and an outdoor garden area. Come before midnight or else risk a long queue.
To Nem Ai – A popular, no frills post-beach spot perfect for pre-gaming (its name loosely translates to “I Don’t Care”). They deliver a great cocktail selection, a decent menu, and good people watching, but service can lag whenever it gets busy.
Le Boy – Possibly the most popular gay nightspot in all of Rio, this club features go-go boys and drag performances depending on the night.
TV Bar – You won’t believe the eye-popping, television-themed decor of this old TV studio that got converted into a stylish nightspot. Every Thursday is a clothing optional party and the weekend brings pop music dance parties.
Galeria Café – While the club is a bit small, its known for its killer DJs. You’re likely to run into a nice mix of drag queens, bears, and pretty boys, but come early as it typically gets mega-crowded.
(featured image via joao xavi)