Restaurante Santo António de Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal

What was once an absolute steal, tucked away in one of the Alfama’s tough to locate corner terraces, must have made its way into a guide book or two.  I’m now no longer conflicted about listing it here.

Keep going, you’re on the right path.

Although they recently raised their prices to be somewhat less shockingly inexpensive and shrank the number of menu offerings, it’s still great quality Portuguese food at friendly prices.  (Oddly, each time I’ve mentioned the menu changes to the staff, they denied it, saying “impossible!”)  Most of the staff here appear to speak some amount of English, though you don’t need much Portuguese to find dourada grelhada (grilled sea bream) on the menu.

They just really like Dustin Hoffman.

The neighbors sharing the terrace add a good deal of charm to the outdoor ambiance – you will always be accompanied by at least one tiny dog, one Portuguese grandmother straight out of central casting, and a pet bird with a call so distinctive you think it’s fake at first. On the inside, the walls are covered with photographs of actors from their iconic roles, some even signed.  Dustin Hoffman in particular occupies a unique location of honor, getting his own dedicated lighting and wall just off the restrooms.

I’ve been here several times and to my knowledge there is no Fado show included.  Head to Santo António for a break from the ubiquitous singing and price gouging and a nice meal that still benefits from the unique feel of the Alfama.  Oh, and beware the fried potato skins that come with the couvert – you may end up battling your dining mates for them.

Restaurante Santo António de Alfama, Beco São Miguel 7, 1100-538 Lisbon, Portugal

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