I must admit when I first moved to Rio, almost 2 years ago I had expected to see lots of cool and lively ‘beach front’ restaurants, not the case. For those of you who have seen pictures of the beaches in Rio you will see that there are in fact a number of restaurants lining the beach road in Copacabana but they are pretty touristy and not that great. In Ipanema there is only ONE true beachfront restaurant, Astor by the same owners as the popular pizza joint Bráz. They clearly know how to pick a good location, Astor is directly across from the beach on the corner of Vieira Souto avenue and Rainha Elizabeth street, a few steps away from Rio’s ‘hottest hotel’, the Fasano (read: trendy location).Inside Astor reminds me a little bit of the Pastis in the Meatpacking district with its brasserie-style décor, antique bar (shipped all the way from Philadelphia) and black and white photos of Rio’s most iconic old bars lining the walls. Obviously it’s no Balthazar but for Rio, it is the closest thing you will find; however instead of brasserie dining you will find more of an American/Brazilian mixture. From traditional steak with rice and beans to steak tartare and my personal favorite, the goat cheese salad.
With Astor’s outdoor seating area (above) facing the beach you will definitely want to try one of their creative cocktails as you soak in the last rays of the day or start your night out. There is long list of martinis and a variety of flavored caipirinha’s just don’t try to make adjustments! It is so ridiculous that it has become an on going joke amongst my friends…. There was a drink I wanted to try however I wanted it with a different type of alcohol (sorry no gin for me) anyways the answer was a hard ‘NO, we don’t do that’. Being a typical New Yorker I went and asked a different waiter in hopes of changing his mind and he explained that ‘with a different alcohol the drink would taste differently’ (um, ok?!). As a last resort I tried ordering the drink without alcohol and a shot on the side, the waiter responded “NO, Cause I know you are going to mix it’, Wtf? I know most places in Brazil won’t do substitutions but this was a bit extreme. You’ve been warned!
Head upstairs to Studio RJ to keep the party going or for a fun night out. Plan your night accordingly: Tuesday is ‘Jazzmania’ night. Wednesdays feature up and coming Brazilian bands (and are FREE to enter). Thursday through Sunday there are double shows with DJ’s playing a mix of your favorite music into the early morning. It is the ideal spot for those of you looking for a “pós-praia” (post-beach) party on the weekends! The stage is small and the place can get packed but it is always a good time. When you need a breath of fresh air or a smoke you can escape to the balcony overlooking the beach:) Most shows/parties cost about R$30 ($15) if you get on the list by 6pm otherwise will cost around R$30-R$50 to get in.
Have you been to Astor? What was your favorite cocktail??