I always seem to be seeking out the type of places that embody all the values that are dear to me. I don't exactly go about looking for them, but when I do come across a space with the kind of soul I am drawn to, I know it instantly and I never want to leave. It must be that I have a sixth sense for smelling the blood, sweat and tears of hard work because the places I tend to favour are usually labours of love, and the stories behind them fascinate me as much as the details on the walls.
I came across Casa Independente on a Sunday. It was closed for the day but my best friend's man was filming there and we were invited to stop by and watch as the crew was shooting a local band performing for a scene. We had plans to pop in for a brief visit. Somehow, we ended up with a glass of rosé and a slice of lemon meringue pie in hand, chatting with the owner for what ended up being one of the best afternoons we spent during our entire stay in Lisbon.
Casa Independente is a cafe by day, one that welcomes children and hosts workshops such as gorilla gardening. At night, it turns into a bar that seems to specialize in showcasing local talent such as artists, dj's and live bands. As far as I could tell, there are no chefs working at Casa Independente; just a couple of dedicated owners with a passion for seasonal quality products and a willingness to learn (by trial and error if need be!)
Today it is safe to go to the Intendente area in Lisbon where the space is located, but I am told that this wasn't always the case, that in the not-so-distant past, the square and its surrounding streets were home to some hardcore activities. To open a venue in this area was a risky undertaking to say the least. Some time after Casa Independente was up and running, the mayor of Lisbon, in an admirable move, decided to built his office right in the middle of the Intendente square which is now a lovely spot to hang out in. While the entire neighborhood hasn't cleaned up overnight, efforts are still being made. I love the fact that the mayor didn't turn a blind eye to these issues and that Lisbonites with great ideas and concepts help transform the city.
I wasn't planning on posting anything about Casa Independente when I walked in that day. The welcoming and relaxing vibe of the place just stayed with me over these past weeks. Regrettably, I only found out about it on the night before my departure and was not able to visit during regular opening hours. As you can probably tell, I plan on returning to Lisbon (the sooner the better!) and a night at Casa Independente is high on my list.