We arrived, dropped our bags in the tiny room we all shared and made our way into downtown Lisbon!
Just flying in from Spain early that morning, my friends and I were ready to explore Portugal. But first things first, we needed to eat!
Starving and excited at the same time, we were looking for restaurants with authentic Portuguese dishes including lamprey, bacalhau and so much more!
I whipped out my friendly guidebook (I am always the one carrying it for times like these) and flipped to the food section. As we thumbed through the pages, we all decided to head over to Rua de Sao Jose, a street in the heart of Lisbon. There were quite a number of restaurants listed in this area, so, clearly this must be restaurant row of the city!
As we rounded the corner, clearly it was; restaurants lined both sides of the cobblestone street with tables and chairs positioned in front.
The four of us giddily walked to the first restaurant in the row and were initially approached by the host before we were in bird's eye view of the menu! He instantly opened the menu and held it against his body as he walked backwards to keep up with us.
Now in front of the actual restaurant, we stopped, looked in and took another glance at the menu...nah, not what we wanted. As I said, we were craving authentic Portuguese, not Italian, spaghetti and meat balls! Apprehensive to let us walk to the next restaurant, the host tried to sell us on his wine collection.
We were eager to get away, until we came face to face with the next host who immediately linked my arm and led me to an outdoor table. We spoke to him about fresh fish and Portuguese olives but he opened the restaurant's menu to a list of curry dishes. We started walking away from that restaurant only to be bombarded by host after host, up and down the row!
An hour later, the dining experience we had once envisioned never came to fruition but we were glad to be free of influence and impulse and we were full!
So my traveler tip, if not obvious; do not visit Rua de Sao Jose for an authentic dining experience because you will run into mostly ordinary.
If no one tries to lure you in, go to that restaurant!
Otherwise stick to the cute, hole in the wall off the beaten path! Filled with the freshest seafood and cheapest wine, it will be a dining experience that tops them all.
Written and Contributed by FunAsWeGo