It’s comfort food city at the Hard Rock Café in Lisbon, located on Avenida da Liberdade in the Portuguese capital's central neighborhood.
Hard Rock Cafe Lisbon's menu is all about enjoying food – lots of it! Entrees read like a chef’s culinary travelogue: fresh from the fjords is the grilled Norwegian salmon; out of the "Big Apple" comes the New York strip steak; and the local fried shrimp platter places Portugal at the center of the universe. Actually, there’s one other starter: the Twisted Mac, an inspiring cavatappi that sounds like a disowned cousin of Fleetwood Mac.
Hard Rock Cafe Lisbon's interior — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
Theirs is also a list that celebrates in considerable style the classic American burger. Check out the Original Legendary Burger, a full half-pounder wrapped in a toasted brioche bun. But this being Europe means the guys in the kitchen also fly the Continental flag with a creative variation. There's the Mushroom & Swiss Burger, which translated means a veritable field of alarmingly fresh sautéed fungi smothered with tangy cheese from the land of cuckoo clocks topped with crisp lettuce, vine-ripened tomato and red onion. Outrageous!
But it’s always the food from the USA that rumbles the belly, and not long ago Hard Rock Café Lisbon went Deep South and cooked up a sensation with the flag-raising Smokehouse menu.
This is BBQ central, where southern state specialties are given the slow-cook treatment after soaking up a marinade that's even richer and racier than Miley Cyrus.
At Lisbon’s Hard Rock, the meats are smoked in house for in-your-face freshness. And if you’re up for it, go for the Hickory-Smoked Barbecue Combo, an awesome plateful of ribs, chicken, pulled pork or beef brisket.
The fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth Hickory Smoked Ribs is another signature dish with amazing written all over it. And what would life be without fried chicken (well, roasted actually)? Again, the smoke wizards work their magic by basting the half-bird portions with hickory sauce before it hits the BBQ – simply delicious. (Incidentally, they serve all this with fabulously seasoned fries, cowboy beans and zesty citrus coleslaw to complement the earthy palate of cedar, maple and oak used to fire up the ovens.)
However, music is the single most important ingredient, and in Lisbon, the soundtrack, well, simply rocks. And what about the memorabilia?
If you think you’re dressed for the occasion, wait until you feast your eyes on the tuxedo owned and worn by Jimi Hendrix, or the pair of velvet trousers David Bowie slipped into way back in the late 1960s, both framed and displayed among the other apparel that graced the bodies of rock's greatest heroes.
The Budweiser Dean custom-made guitar signed by Rolling Stones' Keith Richards and Bill Wyman enjoys close scrutiny, as do the dozens of gold discs hung along the walls. And look out for the Gretsch guitar used by Ike Turner in the days when he and Tina were inseparable.
Still an item, though, is Hard Rock Café Lisbon’s inspiring combination of menus and music.