I normally do not review a la carte restaurants and never a beer hall, but this little spot was special and I had a wonderful meal. Ask any chef in Lisbon if you could only eat at one place in the city, more likely than not they’re going to suggest this locals spot hidden just north of the Baixo. Opened in 1956 as a “pasture house”, Mr. Ramiro started adding seafood to the menu and it quickly became a popular cervejaria (or small beer hall). Though the awning outside reads “Marisqueira” or seafood house. The dining room is spotless with white monogrammed napkins and formal looking waiters but the environment, especially at night, is noisy and crowded, packed with passionate drunks ending their evenings. And the seafood is best of class while still remaining affordable. You won’t find a better deal on seafood this amazing.
The restaurant is just a couple of tram stops up Av. Alm. Reis from the beginning of the 28 tram in the Baixo, so it’s easily walkable from there. From the Alfama, hop on the 28 tram and you’ll hop off just in front and to make things even more convenient there’s a metro stop across the street as well. This place has a reputation for having a long line and as far as I know there’s no way to reserve a table, you just queue up, so we arrived at noon when they opened and had no trouble getting a table. The British exp-pats in line with us said that it’s quite packed and boisterous at night and this was the best time to come.
The seafood here is sold by the kilo so you might want to do some quick conversions to understand how many pounds of seafood of each thing that you’re ordering. There’s a decent sized menu, I’d look online and decide what you want in advance, as the waiters are of the no-nonsense, always in a hurry, variety. Order a beer and you’ll get a glass; when it gets empty, they’ll bring another without asking. I wanted to try everything but ended up going with a mix of unique and luxurious but not break-the-bank. We started with the goose barnacles (my first) and then some spiny dye-murex (also a first), and some garlic clams that were fantastic. Next came the gigantic scarlet shrimp. And then last the “crab without shell” which I had misordered. I had meant to order the crab fat back. But this mountain of crab was delicious anyway, though I prefer to shell my own crab. For “dessert” I ordered the prego (garlic steak sandwich) which is the traditional booze mop after a night of seafood and beer. And drank my third beer of the lunch with it. What can I say, it was an exceptional meal that I won’t soon forget.
The restaurant is very open and upscale but still retains an earthy beer hall vibe. I snuck a few pics of the downstairs table surrounded by fresh tanks with some of the largest crabs I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. And a few pics of the fresh trays they keep by the door with a few unlucky and still kicking menu items. The spider crabs were enormous.