Dining Ala Divine In Lisbon

John Laudando

Lisbon — where our finest moment is a tasting dinner at Os Gazeteiros, with natural foods and wines. It is located at Rue des Escolas Gerais, 114-116, in the Alfama district. The ingredients, the atmosphere, the staff, the presentation — everything was, indeed, divine.

Our waitress is Faia (Portuguese for beech, she explains), and her ethnic background is French and Portuguese, although her mother was born in the United States. The dishes she brought to our table by the window were many, and our pleasure was unbounded. Our meal included perfectly cooked tuna marinated in miso and soy with an emulsion of buttermilk and Jerusalem artichoke, topped with red misuna and wasabi leaves. And that was just the main course! If you go to Lisbon, we can’t recommend it highly enough — and now you have the address. But that was our last night . . . let’s go back to the beginning.

April 17 — We arrive in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, around 3 PM following a tortuous drive on streets that obviously were not originally designed for automobiles. After dropping things off at our Airbnb (Alma Moura Residences, yet another one of our lucky lodging finds), we head out for a snack and drinks.

We only need to walk a short distance on Old Lisbon’s ancient cobblestone streets and marble-chip sidewalks, to find Portas do Sol, a splendid esplanade overlooking the harbor that offers small plates and excellent drinks. We like it well enough that we return several times. Sitting, looking out over the city, we gain our first idea of how vast Lisbon is, though we will confine ourselves mostly to things that are within walking distance.

Our second day there, having wandered and walked to the harbor the evening before, we head to Castelo de San Jorge. We’ve seen other far more elaborate and elegant castles, but we are captivated by the view, which sweeps out to sea and encompasses much of the city. It’s a view that includes Lisbon’s famous San Justa Lift, an elegant elevator that is the fastest way to get from Lisbon’s central Baixa neighborhood to the Barrio Alto — a neighborhood so named because it is SEVEN STORIES HIGHER than Baixa. It even has a bridge at its topmost height that serves as a walkway to the higher ground.

The other very impressive aspect of the Castelo is the family of peacocks who strut their stuff around folks sitting in the small garden restaurant — one in particular gives new meaning to the phrase “proud as a peacock,” as he fans his tail and displays for the entire time we stroll around the garden. And, I discover a zingy new drink — Licor Beirao with ginger — that I, sadly, cannot find anywhere else.

Mostly, in Lisbon, we walk, drink, and eat. One evening, exhausted from our meanderings, we stop at a little restaurant at the end of the street where we’re staying in the Alfama district. It’s called Salsa, so we expect an entirely Latin menu, but to our surprise and enjoyment, it offers some of the tastiest curry we’ve had in a long time.

Although the Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest district, is very walkable, we don’t venture out to many other areas, because driving is simply out of the question, and we’ve been traveling long enough that we are enjoying just relaxing. But one more adventure awaits. Next column.

Find lots more photos (including that peacock!) at indyeastend.com and other destinations at olddogsnewtrips.com. Please comment on our Facebook page — Old Dogs, New Trips, or contact us at [email protected]

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