Soulful Seafood — in the City of Fado


It’s on everyone’s list. The best place in Lisbon for seafood, they say. It’s loved by locals. And it’s a favorite for travelers and, yes, tourists.

Cervejaria Ramiro — sounded ideal for our first night in Lisbon. Nothing fancy, just an authentic spot with possibly the best seafood the city could offer, simply cooked, in a bustling, no-frills setting.

So after waiting in queue outside for about twenty “hungry” minutes (they don’t take reservations) we were ready to find out if the accolades from our guy, Anthony Bourdain, and others were warranted.

To get right to the point, yes, they were. And we too were taken with the impeccably-prepared, straight-forward kind of food that ended up on our plates as well as the frenetic, high-energy vibe of the place.

Much like the Fado music of Lisbon, that hauntingly-soulful music of the streets that always gets to you emotionally, satisfying something deep within — the seafood at Ramiro effortlessly manages to do the very same thing. Take just one bite and it finds that same sweet spot.

Briney little Portugese clams. That’s how we started. Then, succulent langustinos, Trulee’s new favorite food. Followed by some spectacular tiger prawns a la plancha that surpassed even the best of lobsters.

We couldn’t have been happier — even at a big-deal, Michelin-rated restaurant. And it seemed to me most everyone sitting around us at the crowded, paper-covered, communal tables felt the same way.

It didn’t take long before we were chatting with other happy campers about what we all had ordered, what we were drinking, eventually, trading personal stories. We even made some cool new friends.

Ok, maybe the wine had something to do with it. But Cervajeria Ramiro turned out to be exactly what Trulee and I had wanted for our first dinner in the city of Fado — a simple meal of first-rate seafood, interesting dining companions, some stellar Portugese wine.

And speaking of wine, have you tasted any from Portugal? We hadn’t. Or if we had, it certainly didn’t make much of an impression. Sad to say, what we knew about the wines on the list was less than limited.

But we were in for an exhilarating surprise. A very drinkable one.

Thanks to our server, we ordered a seafood-friendly white — an Alvarinho, produced from a grape of the same name grown in the Vinho Verde region, north of Lisbon. It reminded me of a Spanish Albarino, only a bit more complex. (yes, they’re both made from the same grape) Turns out, Alvarinho is one of Portugal’s most prized varieties.

What made the teasingly-tart Alvarinho we had been drinking even more intriguing was the aristocratic-looking, Portugese gentleman seated at the table next to ours. “Excellent wine choice,” he told us.

Not only that, he went on to say the winery — Palacio Da Brejoeira — was started by his grandfather. What are the odds! But then again this was Lisbon. And Cervejaria Romiro. I guess this is what happens.

Cervejaria Ramiro / Avenida Almirante Reis 1, Lisbon, Portugal