Parker Street (Corner of Drury Lane), Holborn, London

it’s hard to argue with all the fun being had

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Address: Parker Street (Corner of Drury Lane)
Map:Map & nearby
Venue Type:Bars
Nearest Station:Holborn
About: Guanabara is a Brazilian bar and restaurant named after the main beach in Rio, serving authentic Brazilian cuisine and a wide selection of cocktails. There is a large dance floor with live bands and DJs playing.

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  1. Sway (0.0 miles)
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  2. Sway (0.0 miles)
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  3. BungaTINI (0.0 miles)
    Drury Lane, Holborn, WC2B 5PG

Guanabara features in these AIL lists...

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If you like Latin music and a little bump and grind you’ll love Guanabara. The circular dancefloor is positioned in the centre of the restaurant, around which punters stand around and eye up potential partners for dancing and (ahem!) possibly more.

"it’s hard to argue with all the fun being had"

Review Rating: 6 / 10
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Brazil is huge, both geographically and culturally but beyond the likes of Samba and every international football fans’ second team there’s a lot more to it. Guanabara is London’s biggest late night Brazilian venue, open every night of the week. Resembling some kind of multiplex without the bowling alley, and sat by the side of War Horse, the first glimpse doesn’t say much for it but once you’re over the first impressions of the canteen benches, bright lights and a circular dance floor that says Pagan ritual- you’ll be fine. Clearly it’s not about the design but what it’s got to offer. The weekly calender includes Samba classes, football and festivals, Favela block parties and London’s most Brazilian night- Sunday’s Forro.

Those here on this Wednesday night are split between the dancers and the voyeurs and unsurprisingly it seems to be the male after work crowd with their rolled up shirt sleeves who are absent from the dance floor. In their defence though, it’s hard not to look and this is just samba. Friday’s baile funk night is even more explicit and like most weekends it gets rammed.

The menu’s are on theme and Caipirinha cocktails are supported by various other jazzy drinks that are reasonably priced at around £6.50 each. On the food side the fried cassava plant, farofa and risole were really good choices and ordering a platter was the way to sample a bit of everything and although the textures weren’t delicate there’s a lesson to be had in South American comfort eating.

Guanabara is what it is; it doesn’t have the posturing of some venues but when it gets going it’s hard to argue with all the fun being had.

T.A.O reviewed Guanabara on Mon 13 Jun 2011

"A lot of fun for those who want to let their hair down to Latin music"

Review Rating: 6 / 10
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Guanabara has established itself as London’s premier Brazilian music and dance venue. Everyone has heard of it, and many have attempted a dance move or two here at least once.

The circular dancefloor faces a stage where a different live band assembles each night to play music that ranges from Samba, lambada, and funk to reggaeton, and Brazilian Drum & Bass. There are free dance classes each night where you can learn things like forro – which is danced in pairs, gafieira which is a ballroom version of samba, or how to lambada.

Wooden canteen-style tables surround the dance floor and the menu contains moreish Brazilian snacks like the cheese bread which we couldn’t get enough of (doughball-like shapes stuffed with cheese), salt and cod fish cakes and cassava chips. Fuller meals can also be ordered, like the famous Brazilian feijoada (black beans, pork and beef in a stew).

There is a veritable selection of daiquiris, caipirinhas and mojitos amongst other cocktails, try the mouth watering vanilla mojito if you have a sweet tooth, or a milkshake-like banana daiquiri. They are reasonably priced at around £6.50, but special drinks offers apply from 5 to 7pm most days.

As with its main rival Salsa! on Charing Cross Road, Guanabara attracts a mix of genuinely keen dancers, guys on the pull, and girls keen to swerve their hips for their attention despite their prohibitive heels. While there are many having fun on the dancefloor, either in groups or pairing up, throughout the course of the evening a circle of young men on the lookout builds up around the circular floor. It is all very amusing to watch and a testament to human nature. I wonder how some people are managing to move one leg after the other as they keep turning their heads to see who’s around.

At weekends the place fills up to the point where moving around becomes a chore, and even on the Tuesday night I attended despite being far from full there was certainly a good number of people. They were still arriving well after 11, perhaps attracted by the 2.30am closing time, a midweek rarity in London.

Guanabara does what it sets out to do well; it may not be discreet, quiet, or elegant, but it’s certainly a lot of fun for those who just want to let their hair down to Latin music.

Leila reviewed Guanabara on Mon 24 Aug 2009

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