advertisement

This is not a restaurant for an intimate, romantic dinner. Ramiro is bright, crowded, and noisy. It also serves some of the best seafood on the planet. Locals flock here in big, celebratory groups and they generally follow a time-honored sequence of consumption. Meals usually start with a nibble on pata negra ham imported from Jabugo in southern Spain. Then begins an assault on the array of superlative shellfish, starting perhaps by sucking slippery percebes (goose barnacles) from  their leathery sheaths or devouring a plate of steaming clams cooked with garlic and cilantro; next some langoustines, or a whole crab to be smashed open at the table with wooden mallets, or maybe some grilled giant tiger shrimp. After you've had your fill of such salt-water delights, it's traditional to tuck into at least one of the house's famed steak sandwiches, known here as a prego, before finishing up with fresh mango or pineapple. Tart vinho verde wine from the far north of Portugal or ice-cold draught beer are the drinks of choice. Cervejarias (beer houses) serving seafood are a Lisbon institution. Ramiro's, which opened in 1956 and is decorated with beautiful wall tile depictions of underwater life, sets the standards. Its location across the street from what was once a notorious red-light district kept it off the tourist trail until recently. Now the neighborhood is moving up and international TV praise from a euphoric Anthony Bourdain has ensured more and more adventurous travelers are seeking out Ramiro.