In Lisbon, there are several world-famous soccer clubs. And if Benfica has their next match only at the end of the month, Sporting at the weekend clashed with the club, which recently lost the championship.
A match of this level was worth watching at the stadium, but the guys in green went north to play the local Porto. So the Good Portugal team had to find a bar. There are many of them in the center of Lisbon, but it’s no fun that way. We wanted to burst into an authentic place with real local fans.
My intuition drew me in the direction of the stadium. After unsuccessful inquiries in the expat’s chats, the search for this place began at the Sporting store near Estádio José Alvalade.
Once inside, you immediately remember you’re on the Atlantic. Instead of a dozen or so variants of fan scarves, you are greeted by a painted surf. For the younger ones, there are paddle buckets. A castle on the beach won’t build itself.
But our goal is not shopping but finding trashy fans’ locations. A guy with dreadlocks answered the cry, came out from behind the cash register and showed us where to go in search of the right place. Down the street, past the giant lion.
A few minutes later, we meet the first guys in jerseys. Oddly enough, on a Saturday night, only one bar is open on the street. The rest are closed. It is a familiar sight in Europe if you can get used to it.
Walking inside, it immediately becomes clear: this is it. T-shirts on the walls, beer taps, fan stickers and loud Portuguese speech.
An hour before the match, all the tables are booked, but a pretty waitress offers a seat at the bar. “Sorry, we have a match today, so the menu is out of order!” she warns straight away. Besides appetizers, there are only two dishes to choose from – tomato soup and steak. We took both of them together with beer.
In Portugal, they bring the smallest size of beer by default. There are about 200 ml, half a pint in such a glass. Most often, on-tap is the most common lager, but it only costs a couple of euros. We decided not to save money and tried all the bottles of local Cerveja. There are stout, wheat and IPA. The size is a little bit bigger, it seems, 0.33. The price was around three euros.
While there is time before the match, we explore the premises and see the sticker with Chernobyl.
Behind the bar people of different ages – from 16 to 45. Some of them hug and kiss on the cheek from time to time. It looks like this is a family café. The workers don’t leave you unattended for a minute and ask about your mood. However, soon they are ready to welcome you into the family. And very soon, they bring you a melt-in-your-mouth steak with warm tomato soup.
After a while, dinner will be eaten and one will want a light beer snack. “Tremoços!” the waitress exclaimed. Attempts to explain the word’s meaning failed, so she brought a plate. Google says it’s lupine beans. The locals substitute them for seeds or nuts. “It’s free,” she clarifies with a smile.
It’s a good time to reminisce about soccer. “Sporting is terrible and already on fire. The people are emotionally grabbing their heads after every opponent’s goal. By the end of the game, their club will have lost 0:3.
At halftime, they went outside to talk to the saddened fans. “Our best player is gone,” they explain. The lads are referring to Nunes, who left for England’s Wolverhampton for 45 million euros. “There’s a hole in the center of the field now, and we need a replacement,” the guys complain and offer their candidates from local teams.
I go back behind the counter to my favorite waitress.
– Are all these jerseys original?
– Yes,” she answers, “but I can’t tell you exactly whose; I don’t know them all.
I wonder how one of the walls ended up with a Manu Fernandes jersey, whose last name is written in the Cyrillic alphabet. This guy played for Lokomotiv several years ago.
Time to pay the bill: soup, steak, and four small glasses of beer with dessert cost about 30 euros. Oh, yes, and free beans. The smiling signora gave me a green marker before leaving and pointed to the wall.
I had to write there: Good Portugal.
Location: R. António Stromp A, 1750-147.
“O Cantinho do sa.”