A Weekend in Salvador de Bahia
Brazil’s culture city is gaining a reputation for putting performances on everyday of the year, and the dining scene is boldly stepping into the spotlight. Local restaurants compete for customers with live music, dancing, and DJs, surrounding visitors with entertainment and bombarding them with menus at every turn. Here’s a guide to the historically charming town to highlight who steals the show before you go.
Where to stay: While luxurious resorts abound along the beach, hostels are hiding in the heart of the city down cobblestone streets lined with multi-color buildings. Stay in the thick of the entertainment and save at Hostel Galeria 13 right off Praca Jose de Alencar in Pelourinho. The hostel offers pristine private rooms, a pool, complimentary breakfasts, free caipirinhas every night at happy hour, a guidebook to the town compiled by the staff, and daily local events posted in the lobby. A favorite among backpackers, it also has a restaurant next door, Bar Zulu, serving both Brazilian and international fare with frequent live music.
What to eat: After a day on the beach in Barra, enjoy lunch overlooking the ocean at Pereira Restaurante. With indoor and outdoor seating right on shore, the breezy dining features a buffet everyday or a la carte pizza, pastel, burgers and sandwiches. An expansive menu of entrees and drinks is also available. For a snack or drinks head down to the Museum of Modern Art in time for sunset. The café boasts a stunning view of sunset on the water and a jazz music series called JAMNOMAM is held here every Saturday night.
Because eating on the water never gets old, venture to Amado for an upscale dinner on the Bay of All Saints. Chef Edinho Engel puts a contemporary spin on traditional Brazilian fare with tasting menus of specifically Bahian foods and more encompassing Brazilian offerings, in addition to individual entrees. Start with popular cod croquettes followed by exotic dishes like octopus, duck, wild boar, or quail.
Where to play: Experience a combination of churches, museums, performances, and landmarks for the complete sampler of Salvador. Make a ribbon wish at the Igreja do Bonfim and gaze the gold at Sao Francisco church between touring any of the six local museums, including the Afro-Brasilian museum, which hosts the rich background of the cultural clothing, music, dance and rituals around you.
Candombie ceremonies are a must-see with daily rituals performed at the outskirts of the city. Witness religious dancing, drumming, and singing native to Bahia over dinner in the evenings. You’ll find a variety of cultural drumming and dancing celebrations in most town squares nightly and year round events, like Carnival in February or the feasts of Bonfim and Lemanja.