Cervejaria Trindade

Cervejaria Trindade

As a western American, I am genetically predisposed, and culturally raised, to love a good steak. Alas, while the Portuguese are superlative chefs with pork, lamb, goat, and any number of fish and shellfish species, they’re not so great with beef — at least, not in the form I want it. You know, the inch-thick slab o’ meat, pink in the center and marked with the parallel black bars of a grill.


There is a restaurant in the Bairro Alto neighborhood of Lisboa called the Cervejaria Trindade, which is known for its beef steaks. And my wife finally took me there, along with our guests. (Why she waited five years, I’m not sure, but the final bill might have had something to do with it.) She made a reservation, which was a good thing, because by the time our food arrived the wait line was out the door.

The Cervejaria is in the refectory of an old monastery, and is known for two things: its steaks, and the brilliant azulejos that decorate its walls. We were intrigued by the azulejos, which feature quite a few topless women, leading to the question of why that décor would be used in a monastery. (We learned later that they were installed after the monastery had already been converted to a brewery, which took a lot of the fun out of it. Dang.)

Three of us ordered a steak with the brewery’s proprietary sauce, while the fourth ordered a grilled steak. They were all perfect: tender, delicious, and cooked exactly to our specifications.

Cervejaria Trindade steak and sauce

The sauced steaks came with rather large bowls of fried potatoes, which I’m sure were just as low-calorie as the buttery, garlicky sauce we dipped them into. Fortunately, we had icy cold beer on tap to wash it down.

It was a delicious meal, and one I’m eager to repeat. After all, there are several steaks on the menu, and I’ll need to test them all. You know, just to prepare for future guests.

Interesting grammar fact: The second version of the Trindade monastery was destroyed in the Great Earthquake of 1755. (The original, inaugurated in 1325, burned to the ground in 1708.) Its neighboring hilltop monastery, the Convento do Carmo, also suffered great destruction in the quake, thus wiping out the two most notable buildings of the entire neighborhood and leading to a saying that is still used today: Caiu o Carmo e a Trindade (“the Carmo and Trindade fell”), which is invoked to describe a great tragedy.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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17 Responses to Cervejaria Trindade

  1. syrin says:

    Here’s another tip for your next trip to Lisbon
    Café Império, in Alameda.

    I’m not a big steak fan, especially those you describe (big slab of meat, pink the center, blargh), buuuut… these ones are great. And the Molho à Império… yummy! That even makes a non-steak eater like me swoon! 😀

    • syrin says:

      (although I must admit that my favorite part of that meal is the sauce and the french fries. Who needs steak when you can have french fries! :P)

  2. Joao Brandao says:

    I don’t know where you’re eating when you go out, but i know several restaurants that serve beef just like it’s supposed to, just in my city. You just have to know where to look for it. I would greatly suggest you try restaurants that have certificates for registered quality portuguese cow types (marinhoa, arouquesa, maronesa, etc.)

    • oregon expat says:

      Well, we’re in a small city (Loulé), and I haven’t seen anything of the type here. I might be able to find it over where the rich expats and tourists go (Vilamoura, etc.), but then it would cost a mint. Still, I’ll keep my eyes open for the code words, thanks.

  3. Joao Brandao says:

    Actually, I think I just realized why you may have some difficulty finding it down there. Those 2 of those types of meat are from around here, and the other one is even more up north, so yeah. I guess the best beef is up here :p tough luck

    • oregon expat says:

      Thanks for the sympathy!

    • Paulo says:

      “Posta Mirandesa” should be on your radar as well – you will find it to be very close to the best American steakhouse offerings… only better. Promise. But you do have to go all the way to the Northeastern corner of the country to try it.

      I agree with João, those good steaks do exist in Portugal, but they are getting more and more rare, pun intended.

  4. Paulo says:

    Trindade is a must for my rare visits to Lisbon.
    And it brings back memories from the 18 months I spent stationed in the Navy building in Terreiro do Paço back in 88/89. Yes, I’m that old.

    Every now and then the gang would go and eat one (or two!, many times) of those steaks drowned in butter, as a pretext to consume industrial quantities of beer.

    The last time I was there was in 2009, and it’s good to know it hasn’t changed. Traditions are a very necessary thing, so as to keep you rooted.

    Portugália was also honored by my presence quite a few times back in the day, but “ir comer um bife à Trindade” is one of those sentences that has an immediate and timeless resonance. Immortal!


  5. Jorge says:

    Well, yes, the “caiu o Carmo e a Trindade” saying can be used to describe a great tragedy, but it’s more often not. It is a rather ironical way to say that someone is being overly dramatic about something. As in: “I get in the house, with my girlfriend right behind, and what do we see? A big, black cockroach rushing along the corridor. Caiu o Carmo e a Trindade. She goes ballistic, screaming out of her lungs, and I have to kill the little bugger to get some peace and quiet.”


    • oregon expat says:

      Aha. This makes sense to me. I had previously asked my wife about this, and she said it was mostly used unironically. Maybe she’s just not melodramatic enough.

      • Jorge says:

        Or maybe she thinks a cockroach rushing along the corridor *is* a major tragedy… 😀

        • oregon expat says:

          In fact, she would! She loves spiders and is unbothered by just about anything that creeps or crawls, but a cockroach would send her airborne. Yes, that would probably be an appropriate usage of the phrase… 😀

  6. I think you have a Portugália on the Fórum Algarve, they usually serve good steaks.

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