Inside a graffiti-tagged modern building on Avenida Paulista, Bar Riviera hums along as if it never missed a beat. In fact, the new owner – local nightlife empresario Facundo Guerra – has revived a long-gone icon of the city. First established in 1949, Bar Riviera was a favourite haunt of Brazil’s intellectual left during the military regime of the 1960s and ’70s.
The new interior by Marcio Kogan and his team at Studio MK27 (Beatriz Meyer, Eduardo Chalabi and Diana Radomysler) now serves some of the country’s best cuisine out of a kitchen run by one of its top chefs, Alex Atala. The glass blocks of the facade give the first floor a bit of a retro feel, complemented by the Bertoia bar stools, yet the red Corian countertop – where bartenders concoct Cachaça da Lajes and Terra da Garoas – delivers the here and now.
On the second floor, the main dining area is delineated from the kitchen by a sculptural wood wall that curves along the space and opens up to reveal the service counter. At night, this floor fills up with jazz, as musicians take up their instruments at a central stage for live performances. Enjoying the modern fare, diners can lean back and listen, and also take in the action on the street through the oversized windows. The unfussy outside of the building, with its retro neon sign, has just the edgy corner-bar vibe to make this place more than just a throwback to the golden era.