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Food & Drink: Latina

It’s a mid-May Monday and we’re watching the world go by, an espresso in one hand and couple of pastels de nata on our rickety pavement table.  

Latina is a little bit of Lisbon on the Dials, and has been serving up much more than coffee and cake in its five years as one of only two Portuguese cafes in town. 

Its bacalhau and suckling pig de Negrais are, according to expats, as close to the real thing as you’ll get around here. When The Whistler put a shout out for the best salads in town for this month’s Feedback (above), the most popular was Latina’s marinaded octopus. 

It’s an unlikely success story. When Adelia Pereira moved from Lisbon to London nearly 30 years ago, and to Brighton 14 years later, she couldn’t even cook. “I loved food, but I never really cooked it,” she admitted. “But now every morning I come in and say ‘OK, I’m going to cook this.’ But I never know what I’m going to do the day before.” Yet the menu is reassuringly familiar. “It feels like home,” said Nino as he waited for his salt cod croquettes take-away.  

Adelia says it’s been business as usual during lockdown with take-aways doing a “good enough” trade. But it’s on the street that this food is meant to be. “We have a thing in Portugal. You drink, you eat. You just get some croquettes and a beer or a glass of wine. That’s it.”

Gilly Smith 

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