Tucked away at the end of a hidden alleyway in a city full of secret places is an old bar, a timeworn, bare-bones hole-in-the-wall that had lain nearly forgotten for decades. But thanks in part to the bar’s antique cod ball recipe, this gem of carioca popular gastronomy is beginning to be rediscovered.
Bar do Seu Candinho is named after its owner, a Portuguese immigrant who settled in Rio’s Port Zone more than 40 years ago. He and his brother, Roberto, who is the cook, built this typical Portuguese botequim (a small bar that serves traditional snacks) in the mid-1960s. At the time, the area was full of workers, and they kept the bar crowded. But the economic crisis that started in the 1970s and continued through the end of the 1990s marginalized the Port Zone and the bar.
Two years ago, with the government’s reforms underway for the 2016 Olympics, everything began to change. The old street where the bar is located is being refurbished. In the process, just a few meters away from the bar, archeologists found an old slave cemetery, which has been turned into a museum. Little by little, Seu Candinho is starting to see a bright future for his bar.
Don’t get us wrong – the bar is still pretty beat-up looking and doesn’t give much of a first impression. But we don’t go for the ambiance. We’re there for the unforgettably delicious cod balls. At just 50 cents a pop, these little wonders set themselves apart from all others in the city because the recipe is actually a mashup of two traditional Portuguese dishes, the classic potato-encased cod croquette and the patanisca, a cod fritter made with egg whites. The combination of potato and egg whites makes all the difference.
The cod balls are not the sole attraction here. The shrimp rice is also very respectable, served in generous portions and very cheap – the perfect dish to share with a friend, accompanied by lots of icy-cold beer.
Spending an afternoon here makes for a truly carioca experience – so carioca that many cariocas don’t even know about it yet.
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