Paris has its bistros, London its pubs, Madrid its Tabernas. and Lisbon has its “Tascas”.

Over the last couple of years, Lisbon’s become the “it” destination for those who love to eat, and for good reason!.

A stone’s throw from Largo Camões, just before the lovely little Barão Quintela Square, on a quiet one-way street in the lively Bairro (neighbourhood) do Chiado, there’s André Magalhães’ Taberna da Rua das Flores. It is a great example of the traditional Portuguese “tasca”. A uniquely Portuguese synthesis of an all-hours drinking get-together and casual restaurant, all under one roof.

By the door its written “Mercearia” (the Portuguese word for grocery) and it is not a mistake. This contemporary old-fashioned tavern with tiled floors and marble-topped tables also has available for sale some directly sourced Portuguese products that are served with meals (preferably bioproducts).

Azulejo-tiled floor and glass cabinets filled with kitschy artefacts, dishes, and glassware instantly make this cozy, tiny throwback restaurant feel like a typical Portuguese house from back in the day – where the house wine or beer lubricate the laid back atmosphere.

This classic “tasca”, uses only local ingredients and combines the genuinely traditional Portuguese dishes – from north to south – with a contemporary twist.

As you sit down the waiter will bring you the traditional Portuguese “couvert”: bread, olive oil and aromatic marinated olives.

Highlights presented on the large blackboard include the flavourful Bulhão Pato clams, Meia desfeita – codfish accompanied by a chickpea salad with onion, garlic, boiled eggs and parsley and the fresh tuna in sesame.

If you’re feeling very adventurous, you can try the “iscas com elas”: fried slices of cow liver (from a  breed called Mirandesa, which is unique to northern Portugal), marinated in white wine or vinegar, garlic, served with boiled potatoes.

However, at “Taberna da Rua das Flores”, customers can’t expect to repeat a favourite dish, as each dish is made with only the freshest produce of the day. The one thing you can always find on the menu? The traditional chocolate mousse with cherry and liquor. Just like granny used to make it at home!

The approach is evident not only in the food but also in the level and proximity of the service, where everyone seems to know how to make customers feel at home.

Looking for a local digestif? Give the Amarguinha a try. With lots of ice and a squeeze of lemon.

Tip: Just like in old Lisbon, here you can only pay in cash… Bring extra if you want to take back home some Magalhães’ olive oil, which his father makes in the northern region of Trás-os-Montes.

Taberna da Rua das Flores, Rua das Flores, Lisbon, Portugal

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