Vasco da Gama Restaurant

Named after the famed 15th-century Portuguese navigator who circumnavigated Africa, the Vasco da Gama is an unapologetically sweet, beautiful, old school bar-and-restaurant on Dartmouth street, in New Bedford's south end. The small dark bar is charming in a low-key way, and the bar proper is separated from the dining area by a latticework divider. Mr. Draft was not impressed with the tap selection, but it was better than many, including Beck's Dark and Heineken to accompany the predictable Budweiser. The food that some of the Barflies indulged at the bar- particularly a nice platter of olives and salty cheese- impressed Mr. Draft enough to plan to return with Mrs. Draft to secure a table in the quietly romantic space behind the latticework and indulge in some of the Portuguese specialties, that include goat, rabbit, octopus, and an array of other options from the farm and the sea. The bar's lighting is tastefully subdued and appropriate for a date, or for just hanging out and chatting with some comrades-in-arms. The service was professionally friendly and friendly professional; and the crowd ranged from street-talkin' wannabe homeboy-wiggas to well-groomed suits, sipping cocktails while waiting for their take-out. The Vasco da Gama is one of those places that appears to work equally well as a neighborhood bar- albeit the kind of neighborhood bar that is worth driving across the city to hang out in- and as unassumingly formidable place to partake in a good meal. The old explorer's namesake gets a 7.5. Roll Call: Mr. Draft, Mr. Merlot, Mr. Elixir, Mr. 3BOES, Mr. Sazurac, Mr. Mix.

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