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The place where long ago, in the 17th century, coffee plantation slaves lived, is now home to bars where entertainment ranges from live music to local televised football.
With the end of slavery in 1888, the building that today houses the Mercado São José das Artes was transformed into a fruit and vegetable market and operated as such until the 1960s, when the site was abandoned.
In 1988 the government decided to restore it and turn it into a kind of art and culture market, which now houses art studios, shops, restaurants and bars.
The recovery of the Mercadinho is good news for everyone. It has become a symbol of the city, and in the 90s was one of the city's most popular meeting places for the musicians, politicians and journalists of Rio de Janeiro. Tom Jobim, for example, was a regular and used to come here almost every night.
It is home to botecos, or bars, shops, a music studio and artists' workshops. A good way to enjoy the "mercadinho" is to eat something at Bar Botero and listen to some good music at the Bar do B on the second floor. There's live music almost every Saturday. The "B" stands for Bernard Fuerth, the owner and one of the most renowned blues lovers in the city. They are two of the places that most reflect the soul of this place.
On Saturdays, there's also a craft fair. And hopefully you'll catch a display by the capoeira group Abadarte.
It's a place steeped in history and tradition; the ideal way to enjoy some quality time.
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