Over the street from where were staying, in a small bedsit apartment at street level, there were half a dozen such restaurants barely the size of a living room, sparsely furnished with simple formica tables and the kind of rickety chairs that you would probably walk past if you saw them for sale in a second-hand shop.
But for less than 20 Euros, we had the most enjoyable meals of our trip: grilled sea-bass with salad for less than 10 Euros, and traditional favorties like pollo asado which are sale on almost every menu, washed down with carafes of house white and/or red wine for less than 5 Euros per liter.
After the first night, of course we went further afield. We discovered Duque, an atmospheric restaurant in the buzzing Chiado area, round the corner from a second hand bookshop and just enough away from the tourist spots to enjoy a mostly local clientele. Duque served wonderful bread, which we ate with olive oil and a delicious cheese.
We also tried some of the traditional Portuguese favourities such as pork with clams, which we had enjoyed twenty years ago in the Algarve, an adult-sized plate of which my two year old daughter had demolished with her fork and spoon.
Another favorite was Fabrica da Nata, where we ate the traditional Pasteis custard tarts, thei speciality, washed down by sweet fresh organge juice and great latte. Pasteis are served all over the city, but at the Fabrica you can see them being made, huge steel trays with 40-50 pasteis cases being filled methodically by the staff on the premises.