Sometimes things just fall into place and all is well with the world - well, this was one of those days.
We had caught the ferry over to the "Southbank" on a gloriously sunny March Tuesday and were just wandering about in the vague direction of the Cristo Rei statue, enjoying the views and the local architecture. Around 2pm we found ourselves on the main drag of the pretty old town of Almada and we came upon Arantes & Morgado. It was packed to the rafters with local folk both young and old, with a motley crew waiting patiently by the door for a table to become available. A good sign if there ever there was one, we joined the queue and stood in line.
There was a blackboard outside with the specials of the day chalked up but with my "vino tinto" grasp of the language and no mobile signal for googling purposes I was a bit scuppered. However, this was not a problem as we got into conversation with a fine local fella as we waited. It soon became clear that this was the best place to eat in Almada and was as cheap as chips. Much to our good fortune our pal informed us they had a local classic, the fishy pasta, on the menu this lunchtime.
After a wait of around 15 minutes we were ushered in and shown to a basic formica table which was hastily furnished with a paper tablecloth, four upturned plates, some cutlery, bread rolls and a plate of cheese. With a little help from our new best friend, and his growing band of pals, we ordered one large portion of the massada de peixe to share between the four of us, a litre of water and a big jug of the vino verde. The friendly staff, who spoke no English, and who obviously didn't get a lot of tourists dropping by, nodded and smiled at our choice.
Our vino verde came out in no time and was light, refreshing and had a good bit of fizz to it. While we were waiting we watched plate after plate of good looking food come out of the kitchen. B was loving the sight and smell of the thin crispy fried potatoes and was on the verge of ordering a portion when a big rustic "casserole" dish, full to the brim with the massada de peixe, was placed in the middle of the table along with a serving ladle. Well it looked good, smelled divine and tasted even better. Other than the melt in the mouth prawns and some squid I have no idea what types of fish this dish contained but there was a good selection and plenty of it. As instructed I added some piri piri sauce to my portion which gave it a nice kick. Although designed to feed two people this big dish was plenty for all four of us and we only just managed to finish the lot.
I had a good, strong cafe to finish my meal and we got the bill. I've posted up a picture because it's a sight to behold - four hungry people wonderfully fed and watered for 14.60 euros!!
We said our goodbyes to the lovely staff and the very friendly locals and made a mental note to return here straight way on our next visit to the great city of Lisboa.
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