Down To The Duque

Lisbon’s jam-packed with tourists, so they say, but I’ve made it to September, and have found that when you stay clear of the places people say “you should see,” and focus on the neighborhoods—“what you want to see,” the crowds fall away.

On a calm Saturday afternoon, in the sleepy time between lunch and happy hour, we drove straight to the heart of Bairro Alto in the central district to make a pilgrimage of sorts: One of the earliest craft brew pubs in Portugal, Duque.

Worn, beer-marinated bench seats, hot café tables melting in the sun, a fading lineup on the chalkboard behind the bar…I knew I’d shown up at the right place. And right at the opening bell: 4 pm. The early bird springs the first tap, you know.

Barrel-aged brews (A Walk In Madeira) and berliner weiss (Meloncholic) to satisfy my thirst and my curiosity at the same time. A homemade hummus, purported to be better than mine by a young man who seemed mighty sure of that fact, and “herbed” potato chips to soak up those first two (short) rounds. A lovely start to our evening…and the crowds stayed away from Bairro Alto, at least until we moved on.