Before being transformed into one the city’s foremost cultural centers, the elegant pale pink Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana (Rua dos Andradas 736, Centro, tel. 51/3221-7147, www.ccmq.rs.gov.br, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Tues.–Fri., noon–9 p.m. Sat.–Sun.) was the formerly grand, belle epoque Hotel Majestic, where renowned local poet Mario Quintana resided for some time (his room is now a museum). Today, the building houses various art exhibition spaces along with a bookshop, candy store, theater, three art-house cinemas, and—for fans of MPB—the recently opened Elis Regina gallery with photos and recordings of this great singer.
In the ground floor courtyard, the lovely Café Catavento serves snacks and light meals. At 7 p.m. Wednesday–Friday, there are always free musical performances. Meanwhile, on the 7th floor, the Café Concerto Mario Quintana offers sweeping views over the Rio Guaíba as well as lunch, brunch, afternoon tea, and happy hour specials accompanied by live jazz and classical music.
Porto Alegre’s other major cultural hub is the Usina do Gasômetro (Av. Presidente João Goulart 551, tel. 51/3212-5979, www.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/smc, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Tues.–Sun.). Built in the 1920s, on the banks of the Rio Guaíba, the towering 110-meter (350-foot) red-brick smokestack of this former coal-fire power plant has become a city landmark. The renovated interior has various galleries, a cinema, theater, and bookstore, along with a café featuring one of the finest views of Porto’s legendary sunsets over the river.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition