February 27, 2011

Mouraria, Lisbon. October, 2009

When my Irish friend John recently told me that the eruption of the Iceland volcano had stranded his brother and sister-in-law in Lisbon, I thought, “There are worse things.” Certainly worse places to be stuck than this golden city of lovely memories. We’d heard of a small, family restaurant in the Graça district and were eager to try it, especially as we’d be taking tram #28, which zig-zags all over Lisbon, in and out of all of its distinctive neighborhoods. Up and up we went in the packed tram until some residents kindly showed us just where we needed to get off. The Churrasco da Graça was small, very “local,” and it seemed we were the only tourists in the place. After our fried empanadas, our waiter suggested a mixed grill, a good choice: beef, bacon, lamb, a pork chop, several kinds of sausage. Of course, I needed to try the arroz doce, and Jay (“I don’t like desserts”) had a bite (“This is really good”) and wound up eating at least half of it. Afterwards, we decided to walk back down to our Baixa hotel, stopping to enjoy the panoramic view at the Miradouro da Graça, and then descending through the thrilling, dark, winding streets of Mouraria, occasionally brightened by a small shop or bar like this welcoming beacon. A woman out walking her dog graciously explained how to make a series of additional turns that finally landed us back on familiar ground. A fine Lisbon evening from start to finish.

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