This is the kind of place that causes you to continue giving hyped spots a chance. Each time you think you’ve had it with what the crowd tells you, there’s a Romiro.
Famous for its seafood, that is what you will eat. The waiters come around with digitized menus in several languages on iPads. Items are listed by kilo weight, but you don’t order that way. You just tell them what you want and for how many humans, and they do the estimating for you. And don’t worry, they actually estimate perfectly. Unlike with American spots, which I’ve found tend to constantly over-estimate in an attempt to run up the bill, Europeans (at least Portuguese, Spanish, and French) tend to value your experience over that of the house. I don’t recall being asked how I wanted things prepared, which is fine because the chef chose “perfectly” as the cooking method.
Will you wait in line to get in here? Yes. Even the footballer who thought he could game the system was shuffled back into line. But that line will move quickly and there is a fine reward at the end of it, rather unlike most lines I’ve tolerated. You will be pleased.
One final note: apparently I did it wrong by failing to order a “prego” at the end of the meal. Don’t fail me. Make up for my error and get one of these tiny little beef sandwiches that are said to be exquisite.
Cervejaria Ramiro, Avenida Almirante Reis No. 1-H, 1150-007, Lisboa, Portugal
I never would have found this place on my own. Many thanks to a group of locals that invited my friends and I along to watch the Euro Cup final match, pitting Portugal against France. And a hell of a time, it was!
This is along the lines of the many food markets you see around the world that mixes fresh items with stalls or bars that cook/prepare food. Something like Barcelona’s Boqueria or New York’s Chelsea Market. For the Euro Cup final, they set up several televisions, including a huge projection screen. We sampled many of the wares – from slow roasted pork reminiscent of Cuban lechón, to sushi, burgers, and a gorgeous Portuguese charcuterie board – everything was on point. The wine purveyor had a great selection from several regions of Portugal and nifty little vinyl bags he would fill with ice to keep things cool.
Needless to say that after Portugal triumphed, there was much dancing, singing, kissing, and the beer flowed and flowed . . . free of charge of course. Having had a great experience here during a very hectic, overly-packed moment, I would highly suggest any gastronomy fan to pay it a visit.
Mercado do Campo de Ourique, Rua Coelho da Rocha 104, 1350-074, Lisbon, Portugal
This powerhouse greets the nose with a blend of peppery spice, moss, black fruit, raisins, and cocoa. The front palate gets a kick in the face from fresh strawberries and cocoa, and a hint of pepper. Black rubber, old leather, cocoa, faint vanilla, and red fruits are pulled together by powerful (but no too) tannins and a peppery finish. This is a true reserva, with all the aged wisdom that comes with that. It was fantastic with roasted pork, and I imagine it paring well with any version of parillada.
If you’re looking to better understand Portuguese culture through its food, cultural goods, and household products, while finding a unique and distinctively Portuguese gift for that special someone, this is the place for you. This is perhaps the best of a series of shops trafficking in goods that harken back to older, arguably simpler times. I call them saudade shops – in reference to the uniquely Portuguese word for a sense of longing for something lost – and there are many great ones.
I’ve never taken a person here that has walked out empty handed. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve picked up things for sisters, nieces, mom, friends, and girlfriends – not to mention more than a few things for myself.
You just can’t go wrong. The collection of fancy scented soaps, lotions, and perfumes is as impressively expansive as it is unique. The fact that the clientele is at least as Portuguese as it is foreign says much about the quality and authenticity of the stock.
A Vida Portuguesa, Rua Anchieta 11, 1200-023 Lisbon, Portugal
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself stumbling around the Alfama between the right hours, and if you’re lucky enough to find the doors open to this teensy little establishment, you just might be lucky enough for the aged and wise Don Jorge to threaten you with the tiny blade of his wine opener, secretly pay your tab, then bound out onto the street while pumping his biceps at the world and announcing “amanha!” before you ever know what hit you.
Eder (whom I believe speaks English) and the rest of the staff are cordial and ready with a joke and a smile. Though the menus offer food and all manner of tipple at rock bottom prices, I’ve only ever stopped in for a medronho (arbutus berry brandy), some fresh squeezed Algarve orange juice, and the occasional cafezinho. You’ll notice the walls are adorned with all manner of Portuguese liquor, in addition to many different brands of the traditional ginja (cherry liquor) the place is named for. Even if, like me, you stop only for a single fortifying shot of medronho before heading to the next Fado stop, you’ll grow an affection for this little place quickly.
Ginja d’Alfama, Rua São Pedro 12, 1100-172, Lisbon, Portugal