Tendinha Tavern, an Old Eatery in the Modern Lisbon
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Tendinha Tavern must be the only commercial establishment that claims to be younger than it actually is.
Why they do this we don’t know but we’ll reveal many other curious facts that you’ll enjoy reading about!
Located in the heart of Rossio, next to Arco do Bandeira, like the song Velha Tendinha (Old Tendinha) says, it is one of the oldest shops of Lisbon.
Above the door, where there used to be a window, a panel of coloured tiles announces the foundation date, 1840. Inside, more blue and white tiles reinforce this information… but it’s actually not quite true!
In an advertisement published in the newspaper A Capital dated April 8, 1914, it is mentioned that its foundation took place in 1818.
It was at Tendinha Tavern that the highly regarded painter José Malhoa (1855-1933) met Amâncio, the outlaw fado singer, who posed as a model for the famous painting O Fado, exhibited today in Fado Museum.
At Tendinha Tavern, anyone could sing fado but consecrated singers such as Alfredo Marceneiro (1891-1982) also participated.
But don’t be fooled if you think you’re going to find an old and picturesque space. In fact, when at the beginning of the 20th century the owner José Godinho dared to even consider making renovations, (perhaps enthusiastic about the new aesthetics in vogue that their neighbour theatre Animatógrafo do Rossio presented), traditional voices immediately opposed, arguing that the old house shouldn’t lose its character and should remain as it was.
We can say that an opportunity was lost. Today we’d have another establishment of Art Nouveau taste… or maybe not, as there were so many attacks on decorations of this period during the 20th century.
Tendinha Tavern then had a low ceiling and a fake middle storey where ginjinha liqueur was produced for decades. But one day the tragedy happened and the ceiling collapsed! Since then that ginjinha liqueur is no longer produced there and the so contested renovation work had to be carried out.
But times were different and instead of the graceful and joyful aesthetics of the turn of the century, the space ended up, later on, being invaded by green geometric relief tiles that, in addition to making the space dark, don’t transmit its antiquity to us.
What a shame, things are as they are! But if the walls don’t, their traditional flavours are a whole other story!
The Traditional Flavours
The truth is that Tendinha Tavern has over 200 years of history, keeping the simplicity and the urban delicacies so traditional. Their food is authentic local fast food, consisting of soup, sandwiches, salgados (savoury deep fried snacks) and a few desserts.
As it couldn’t be any other way, here we can find: the delicious rissóis de camarão (shrimp turnovers), croquetes de carne (beef croquettes) or pastéis de bacalhau (codfish croquettes), as well as sandes de presunto (Portuguese ham sandwiches), torresmos (pork rind), queijo fresco (cottage cheese), ovo (omelette), filetes panados de pescada (fish filet schnitzels) and bifanas (pork steak sandwiches), among other generously filled sandwiches.
All of this is accompanied by draught beer, red wine, green (a wine produced in the northwest of Portugal) or cold white wine.
Enjoy the flavours of the Portuguese cuisine in Lisbon’s traditional places. Click here to find out more.
But to warm up the stomach there’s nothing better than a traditional soup from Beira Baixa, served as it should be… really hot (those who don’t like it, let it cool!).
In the end, for those with a sweet tooth, an unpretentious list of sweets won’t disappoint, the simpler and more traditional flavours are also kept here: arroz doce (sweet rice pudding), mousse de chocolate (chocolate mousse), salada de frutas (fruit salad), marmelada (marmalade) and of course pastel de nata (egg custard tart). Everything with a Sem Rival Ginjinha liqueur or Eduardino liqueur.
But Tendinha Tavern made sure to adapt to new tastes without distorting the traditional offer. Vegetarians are welcome to this house and can not only try their soup but also seitan schnitzel sandwiches, vegetarian crepes, salads, vegetable rice, french fries…
In sum, on a terrace in the heart of Rossio, you can enjoy, at affordable prices, such old and traditional flavours of Lisbon and find the friendly and familiar welcome of Margarida and Mr. Alfredo who’ll invite you to come again.
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