On our first night in Lisbon, we had a seafood feast at Cervejaria Ramiro, which was featured on an episode of No Reservations, hosted by Anthony Bourdain. Normally, I might shy away from a place that has been featured on a TV show, as I’m not one for lines and touristy places, but it was also recommended to us by a friend of a friend who lives in Lisbon. We decided to give it a shot. If locals still eat there, it has to be good, right?
Curious about eating at Cervejaria Ramiro? Read on for all the details!
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Eating at Cervejaria Ramiro in Lisbon, Portugal
Bourdain described the menu at Ramiro as “a barrage of minimalist seafood of maximum quality.” When we arrived at the restaurant, we had no idea the treat that we were in for, and just how true Bourdain’s words were.
Waiting for a table
Outside the restaurant is an enclosed patio area that was pleasantly buzzing with people waiting to be fed. We got a ticket and turned to find a seat when we noticed a tap in the wall – beer while you wait! We got two tokens from the bar and redeemed them for two ice cold beers.
The wait was shorter than we expected (about 30 minutes) and we followed the host upstairs to our table.
Ordering our food
The host brought us an iPad that we could use to look at all of the items available. The prices were all per kilo, so we weren’t sure how much we were getting or what it would cost, but we figured it would be our big night out, so we settled on four different dishes to try. The waiter came over, and rather than asking us what we wanted, he pointed to four dishes (three of which we had already chosen) and said they were “the best, the best, the BEST!” We decided to take his advice.
This actually happened to us a few times in Portugal. Servers often told us what we should order, and one even told us that we were ordering too much food and helped us choose what to get (he then also gave us a Cornish game hen that the kitchen had prepared by accident and two free beers).
The dining experience
We sat down to a set of tools that looked like they could have been used for an operation.
The first thing to arrive was a plate full of toasted bread drenched in hot salted butter. It’s difficult to find salted butter in Italy. Not to be dramatic, but the lack of it makes me feel like throwing myself down a staircase sometimes. If I ever get a tattoo, it will probably be the words “more butter, more better” down my arm.
I could have happily made a meal entirely out of the crunchy bread and melty butter, but after two pieces (*cough* SEVEN *cough*), I sat on my hands until the food arrived.
Our first dish was a bowl of garlic clams, tender and sweet and dripping in the aforementioned salted butter.
The clams were followed by plump garlic shrimp. I didn’t start eating shrimp until a few years ago, I think because my mom is allergic to it and up until pretty recently, I often imagined great medical catastrophes happening to me when eating it. Once I banned myself from going on WebMD, I stopped convincing myself that not all pains are cancer, not all skin abrasions lead to sepsis, and just because someone was allergic to something once doesn’t mean that I am, so I started eating shrimp, often and with gusto.
The shrimp were rich and filling and scrumptious.
Next came the crab, which was the dish we had not chosen for ourselves, but was suggested by the waiter. I haven’t actually eaten crab often in my life, although the first time I had it while visiting a friend in Maryland, I ate so much that I couldn’t move after.
This crab did not look like the other crabs I had so embarrassingly paralyzed myself with.
It was open and the shell was filled with what looked like brain stew, a grayish substance that seemed ready to be schmeared on my beloved buttah bread. I remembered seeing Anthony Bourdain eating it. Knowing that he loved offal, innards, etc., I was hesitant to taste what was presumably guts steaming in front of me, but taste it I did. It was creamy, salty, rich, mineraly, possibly brainy, (are you gagging yet?) and surprisingly, not very fishy.
If I had the meal to do over again, I probably would have tried something else rather than getting the crab gut spread, but I’m glad I tasted it, because I’ll probably never have it again.
Old crab head was luckily accompanied by delicate leg and claw meat.
Finally, the tiger prawn arrived. They’re essentially lobster-sized shrimp, and are, what I’d imagine, a fat, wealthy king would dine on atop a velvet pillow while his servants fan him with palm fronds. They are decadent, over-the-top, I’m-a-peasant-and-I-don’t-deserve-this delicious.
My sweetheart seems to always have room for dessert, so he ordered some sort of ice cream cake that I had one bite of and then felt like I was going to pass out due to fullness. The time had come to ask for the check. I waited with my palms sweating.
We speculated on how much the meal would cost, and said we’d be happy if it was 100 euros. 100 euros is A LOT OF MONEY. I once spent 50 euros in Rome on a meal after a friend invited me to a restaurant with a fixed-price menu and I almost threw up when I found out how much it was going to cost. I don’t tend to spend a lot of money on anything, really, except plane tickets. I guess if we were going to splurge, I was happy that it was on an unforgettable meal.
I gasped when I saw the amount on the bill. 75.00 euros. 75.00 euros for a meal that easily could have cost double or triple that in another city. That was for FOUR seafood dishes, four beers, a piece of cake AND THE PILE OF BUTTAH BREAD.
Final thoughts on eating at Cervejaria Ramiro
I didn’t make it to Cervejaria Ramiro before it became famous, so I’m not sure if the quality of the food has changed, or if there are places in Lisbon to eat the same things at lower prices, but I will say that this was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life.
Contact info and booking
Here’s their website for more information and contact details. I’d suggest making a reservation. Most people we met in Portugal spoke excellent English, so calling shouldn’t be a problem.
Feel free to share your Ramiro experience in the comments, or if you know of any other great restaurants in Lisbon, share those too!
Wondering where to look for accommodation on your trip to Lisbon? Check out this post about our stay in Alfama, the city’s oldest district!
Interested in hiking to a beautiful beach outside of Lisbon? Check out this post on how to get to Praia da Ursa in Sintra!
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