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Being a host for the World Cup really changes the routine of any city. Just imagine, then, what it’s like when you’re the main point of entry for the country – the place everybody wants to visit, even if their national teams are scheduled to play in other cities. Tourists have been pouring into Rio over the last couple of weeks, many Mexicans are among them – and, of course, the big match between Mexico and Brazil is tomorrow. (We’ve already written about where to watch matches if you don’t have a ticket.) And if you’re a fan of Mexico’s national team, where in Rio can you go to get in the spirit for this game? Where might one go afterward to celebrate or drown one’s sorrows? Where do Mexicans in Rio go when they’re feeling homesick? Here’s our list of the best Mexican spots in town.

Puebla Café
For going on 15 years, Puebla Café has been one of the most authentic Mexican bars in town – no sombreros or mariachis here. When you arrive, a cool team of female bartenders will guide you to your table under the stars, out on the patio in front of the renowned Cobal do Humaitá, a produce market that has become the site of the best bars in Rio. Once you’re seated, ask for a michelada to aid in reading the menu calmly. The options are classic, but with a subtle Brazilian culinary touch. Puebla Café is undoubtedly going to serve as a second home to many Mexicans over the next month.

Puebla Café, photo by Vinicius CamizaRota 66
Also situated in Cobal do Humaitá, this Tex-Mex establishment is decorated, as you might have guessed, with Route 66 memorabilia, all imported from the Route 66 Museum in California. The food is hefty and pretty much Tex-Mex standards, but the real fun here – or at any of the six branches throughout the city – is in the drink menu, which starts with tequilas and includes such evocatively named, exotic concoctions as the “Toro Loko” and “Hemorragic.” For a group of up to eight, there’s also a gigantic beer tower. This is paradise for serious drinkers.

Guacamole
The only carioca branch of this famous chain of restaurants and bars from the south of Brazil, Guacamole might very well be the funnest Mexican bar in town. It’s also quite touristy. Sombreros and mariachis rule here, and beautiful women walk amongbar the tables, offering “tequila lessons,” in which one of these lovely ladies will sensually pour straight from the bottle into the customer’s mouth. It’s that kind of place. It’s also the kind of place that has some of the finest – and most expensive – tequilas around. And the food? Well, the food here is Tex-Mex too. But it’s okay.

Azteka
A tiny sliver of a restaurant, Azteka has the best Mexican food in town – a far cry from the Tex-Mex crap whose quality varies inversely with distance from Texas. You won’t have any barmaids pouring tequila down your throat either. This is for the Mexicans – or Brazilians, or anyone, really – who want to get to know real contemporary Mexican gastronomy. The chef, Miguel Campos, hails from Acapulco and makes dishes such as the molho mole, using authentic Mexican ingredients like chilies, chocolate and sesame.

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Vinicius Camiza

Published on June 16, 2014

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