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Brazil staycation

You don't have to journey to South America to feel the heat of the equator-some new Havaianas and a taste of Carnaval should do it.


Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil NY


Ipanema Girl



Become a Brazilian

Whether headed to cheer the national team in a World Cup match or to the beach on a hot summer day, you’ll need some proper duds and a pair of Havaiana flip-flops. Local Brazilians flock to Ipanema Girl (28-19 Steinway St at 28th Ave, Astoria, Queens; 718-545-2277, ipanemagirl.net) for all things Auriverde (this Brazilian flag nickname translates to “gold and green”), including jerseys ($20) and Brazilian-flag T-shirts ($10--$25). The store’s popular Havaiana sandals—which come in a half dozen hues, including gold and green—start at $18, and go as high as $180 for a Swarovski-crystal-encrusted pair. Tristate-area transplants also stop in Ipanema for the familiar Caf Pilo ($4.99) and scents. “Sometimes people come in from the street just to sniff the soaps and dish-washing detergents,” says co-owner Vinny Barone. “They are reminders of their home.” For a larger selection of women’s fashion, head five doors down to Ax Brazil Boutique(28-33 Steinway St between 28th and 30th Aves, Astoria, Queens; 718-545-0499), where you’ll find summer dresses, swimsuits and handcrafted jewelry made from golden grass and coconuts.

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You’re decked out in the right threads, ladies, but there’s still a part of you that needs a Brazilian touch. Treat yourself to a day of pampering at Bela Brazil Spa(93 Reade St between Church St and West Broadway; 212-240-9434, belabrazilspa.com), where the staff hails from So Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, among other Brazilian states. Manager and Minas Gerais native Claudia Barroso says it’s all about expertise: “We have brought these services from Brazil, and we pay attention to the details.” Barroso recommends the Brazilian Blow Dry ($33 and up) for a bone-straight ’do; a Brazilian mani-pedi ($42), characterized by its focus on cuticle removal; and, naturally, the Brazilian bikini wax ($50). Grin, and attempt to bear it.

You may not be in the southern hemisphere, but you can still cultivate a Brazilian tan at NYC’s answer to Copacabana. Coney Island’s beach boasts a touch of South America: Before you stake out a spot on the areia (sand), eye the vibrant, fantastical mural painted in 2005 by So Paulo art duo Os Gmeos(2912 Stillwell Ave at Surf Ave), just opposite the Stillwell Avenue subway station.

Inside info

The Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles, a Rio de Janeiro native, is said to be helming the film adaptation of the novel On the Road, penned by onetime New Yorker Jack Kerouac.


Discover Brazilian culture

Formerly of So Paulo, Williamsburg resident Gil Inoue likes the “inspired vibe” at Beco(45 Richardson St at Lorimer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-599-1645, becobar.com). For brunch, he orders bife a cavalo ($11), a filet mignon and two eggs with rice and beans. He also recommends coupling the dish with a cold glass of caju mimosa ($6), consisting of champagne and cashew-fruit juice.

Experience a Brazilian-style buffet—it adopts a pay-per-weight system similar to Manhattan delis—at Copacabana Pizza & Grill(31-13 36th Ave at 32nd St, Long Island City, Queens; 718-545-3685), a cafeteria that dishes delicious and inexpensive ethnic cuisine. Grab a tray and a plate and help yourself to as much of the freshly made salads, rice, beans, pastas, breaded chicken and fish as you can stomach ($4.99/lb). Observe how the locals order their tender grilled beef—known as churrasco—and ask for the same. Don’t forget to pair your grub with a Guaran Antartica—this soda tastes like ginger ale, only sweeter.

Another favorite expat eatery is Casa(72 Bedford St between Commerce and Morton Sts; 212-366-9410, casarestaurant.com), beloved for both its ambience and tasty stews like feijoada ($23.95), a beans, beef and pork concoction considered to be Brazil’s national dish, and moqueca ($20.95), a seafood dish that hails from Bahia. “They say it’s Grandma’s home cooking,” boasts owner and So Paulo native Jupiera Lee. “The taste of our food brings them home.”


Party with Brazilians

Williamsburg’s Miss Favela(57 South 5th St at Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-230-4040, missfavela.com) is an excellent place to shake it, especially on Saturday nights, when samba band Gato Morto plays. Manager Tino Vargas estimates that about 70 percent of the joint’s clientele is Brazilian, and they imbibe plenty of drinks—like caipirinha ($8), the quintessential cocktail containing sugar, lime and cachaa.

Brazil is known the world over for its epic Carnaval, the nearly weeklong hedonistic pre-Lenten celebration featuring costumed samba dancers and copious amounts of alcohol, held each year in Rio de Janeiro, Olinda, Recife and Salvador da Bahia. The Brasil Party, held every Wednesday at Nublu(62 Ave C between 4th and 5th Sts; 646-546-5206, nublu.net), can get just as packed and sweaty. Forro in the Dark plays rhythmic, percussive forr dance music live, and resident DJ Greg Caz spins classic Brazilian beats. Caz describes the hip-shaking, never-tiring crowd as “a good cross-section of twenty- and thirtysomething Brazilians and the non-Brazilians who love them.”