What It’s Like To Live In London’s Little Portugal

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What It’s Like To Live In London’s Little Portugal

  • July 05, 2017
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What It’s Like To Live In London’s Little Portugal

By Kyra Hanson

Kyra Hanson What It’s Like To Live In London’s Little Portugal

Vauxhall is better-known as the site of the MI6 headquarters, rather than its vibrant Portuguese community. Photo: Rob Fahey.

Exit Vauxhall tube station and you’re confronted with the orange high-vis jackets of TfL‘s workforce digging up the tarmac and re-laying the road around Vauxhall Cross.

But negotiate the roaring traffic you’ll emerge onto South Lambeth Road where there’s respite among the Portuguese restaurants, hairdressers and delicatessens which have gathered here over the last 30 years, earning the area its nickname ‘Little Portugal’.

As we wander from Vauxhall to Stockwell, a rumble of laughter erupts from Portugal Café and Tapas Bar, where a group of middle-aged men are dining. Locals can be heard conversing in their mother tongue — the area is popular among African, Latin American and other Portuguese speakers.

This country gave me everything. Portugal hasn’t given anything to me. That’s why I

Casa Madeira

The best time to experience this community’s hospitality is at the weekend — as long as you book in advance. Last Saturday all generations came together under the railway arches at Casa Madeira to eat, dance and enjoy each other’s company. Couples swayed to singer and keyboardist Sergio Campos, and by the end of the night the dance floor was a writhing throng of sequins, lace dresses, antlers and racy Santa outfits.

Even the teenagers were up on their feet – albeit while clutching their mobile phones.

A typical Saturday night at Casa Madeira. Photo: Kyra Hanson (2016)

We hadn’t arranged to meet, but by chance, manager Antonio Luis recognised us at the bar and began telling me about Madeira Patisserie over drinks he insisted on paying for. “Madeira London is one of the biggest sellers of the pastel de nata, on average producing 20,000 per day which are sold for retail and wholesale.” His family established the café here in 1988, when the railway arches were mostly occupied by car repairers and garages. Now the business encompasses a restaurant, bar, shop and a couple of cafés.

This gives the place a warmth and friendliness that only exists among a community with deep-seated connections to each other and the area. Long may Little Portugal remain.

 

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http://londonist.com/london/features/what-it-s-like-to-live-in-london-s-little-portugal

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