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    Jan 2014 · Kate Thomas

    A Esquina means 'the corner' in Portuguese, so it's no surprise that this great little tapas bar has all the...

    A Esquina means ‘the corner’ in Portuguese, so it’s no surprise that this great little tapas bar has all the atmosphere of a hip, laid-back neighborhood spot you might accidentally stumble upon in Lisbon. It’s closed during the daytime, but after 5pm, it becomes a favorite haunt of Portuguese expats hungry for chorizo served with hunks of fresh bread and washed down with good Portuguese vinho.

    It’s wise to make a reservation if you plan to eat here on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, especially if you want to secure one of the wooden tables that line the veranda. (Inside, the lighting is a little on the bright side, and the tables for two are so wide that you might find yourself shouting over the tapas plates.) The menu is scrawled on a simple chalkboard; if you don’t speak Portuguese, come armed with a pocket dictionary because there’s no English version of the menu.

    Expect tapas dishes like pata negra (Spanish ham), lombo de porco preto (black pork loin), rabanadas de presunto (a deep fried Brazilian appetizer) camarao vermelho (shrimp in a red sauce) and garlic mushrooms in a silky broth. There’s also bacalau (traditional Portuguese salted cod), and a selection of cheeses and salads. A Esquina has a great Portuguese wine list, with some good reds like Monte Mayor and Caiado. A few South African wines also make the cut, and there’s even a cigar list.

    The service can be a little slow, and like most tapas bars it can be hard to gauge just how much to order. We made the mistake of not ordering enough, but that was easily resolved by getting stuck into the delicious cinnamon cake that showed up on that day’s dessert list. A Esquina isn’t the place for a hearty meal, but it’s the right spot for a light, laid-back, and atmospheric dinner with friends before heading out to enjoy Maputo’s nightlife.

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