I’m Gonna Be A Lisbion

I’m heading to Lisbon soon.
Anyone got any must-do tips or casual restaurant suggestions?

If so, please leave ’em in the comments….


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  • Sara
    May 18, 2007 6:35am

    David, you have to go to Pasteleria de Belem
    (rua de Belém 88 ) to try the pasteis de nata. Sooooo good!

    Lisbon is fantastic. Have fun!

  • Vicky
    May 18, 2007 6:48am

    I second (third! fourth!) Sara’s suggestion re: the Pastelaria de Belem, accompanied by expresso. And make sure that you eat lots of freshly grilled sardines!

  • Katie
    May 18, 2007 7:58am

    Here’s a place we ate at several times 2 years ago for fabulous home cooking featuring grilled fish. And don’t miss the fresh cheese. We ate a la carte. This is a description I found on the web because I didn’t have the exact address in my notes:

    For a quality seafood feast, consider dining high in the Alfama at the Farol de Santa Luzia restaurant (€16 fixed-price menu turistico, Mon–Sat 12:00–23:00, closed Sun, Largo Santa Luzia 5, across from Santa Luzia viewpoint terrace, no sign but a window full of decals, tel. 218-863-884).

  • katherine greenwald
    May 18, 2007 7:59am

    dear david,

    i’m a frequent reader of your blog and current lisbon resident. in fact prior coming to lisbon i was logging onto your site- it’s really wonderful and your recipes are delicious.

    before heading over here, i actually worked with alice water’s edible schoolyard project at the smithsonian folk life festival- it was something i did prior to heading to europe. mainly i was working with joan nathan. when i told her about your site she said she knew it well and then i gave her the cookies i made from your chocolate book. so, this is a long-winded way of saying- you don’t know me but i’ve been orbiting around your food investigations for some time….

    so im thrilled you’re coming to lisbon. the best restaurants, for real portuguese food, are out side lisbon. and most of the fancy ones are nice for setting but what’s on the plate is never as good as the grilled fish by the beach. so here goes a detailed list and i hope it’s not too long winded.

    it’s worth renting a car, at least for one day. you’ll get to beautiful beaches in 15 minutes and have delicious octopus salads (salada de polvo), grilled robalo, ameixoas (little neck clams in white wine sauce with garlic and parsley.) Sardines are popular here and in two weeks they’l be eaten on the street with cheap red wine and sangria for two happy weeks. Sadly, i can’t give you specific recomendations on these since i find them spinney and to stinky.

    Ok here are some beaches you should visit and food near by:
    >costa da caiparica- it’s 10 minutes by car. and there are a lot of beaches. it’s on a natural reserve and there’s always sangria and caiparinhas to be had. other then that its regular french fries and ham and cheese sandies. there is supposedly a great place for Brazilian feijoada on one of the beaches but im unfamiliar with it.
    > isla da troja, pria da comporta. beautiful beach. you have to take a fairy from setubal and the cafes along the beach are well done. It’s a bit expensive but you’ll feel you’re on a Caribbean island.
    > guincho. this is near cascais and v. popular. there are a few expensive fish restaurants that are popular with heads of state- the main one is Porta Santa Maria and it’s less expensive off spring, panorama. there is also the forteleza de guincho- expensive and sort of ugly but its perched above the cliff so has nice views.
    > near sintra is praia da adraga. it’s a natural reserve beach and the fish restaurant on the beach is quite good.
    > pria de mecco i’ve never been to but many friends go and say there’s a nice restaurant above the beach and they are devoted.

    in terms of restaurants:
    I discovered a restaurant last weekend that was surprisingly good. it’s called ze borges and doesn’t look like much. located off the marginal, the ocean side road that links lisbon to cascais. if you go by train get off at sao pedro de estoril/ if you drive turn off here. (i think sao pedro is the name- it’s 2 stops before estoril but you might want to double check) when you get out of the train, go right and in 1 minute you’ll be there. it’s really well done portuguese food. simple, fresh and hardy. after wards you can walk over to the marginal, make a wish and cross the highway, and along the oceanfront path. we stopped at estoril but you can go as far as cascais and then even on to guincho if you are feeling ambitious (also, if you like you can rent bikes at estoril and bike to guincho. a friend told me there’s a lovely pool along the way, that’s above the ocean, and you can rent a chair, towel and have tasty cocktails for about 10 euros, maybe a bit more.) anyway, near ze borges and sao pedro de estoril, if you walk along the trail, you’ll come to a nice wooden shack taht’s actually a cafe. for a less exhausting day you can have a nice coffee/drink or anything else there and leave felling quite zen.

    in lisbon-
    two lovely french ladies own a wine bar, les goutes de vins, in front of the assemblea da republica. it’s not a fancy place and inside the lights are harsh etc etc. but she knows more about wines then any other sommelier and has a good selection. they also have very good french and portuguese chacuterie. the owners name is fabienne and the cook natelie. it’s good, homey french food and tasty wine. a good place.

    enoteca, is a more touristy wine bar. it’s more attractive and has a larger wine list but they won tell you much about the wine. it’s more efficient; so, what ever suits your taste. it’s near praca da alagria.

    O gallito is widely regarded as the best alentjano restaurant in lisbon, maybe the best portuguese food. everything is really fresh thee and its a small restaurant. you should make a reservation. it’s near benfica and the naval museum (or something about the military…. it might not be a museum).

    In graca, above alfama, there is another great inexpensive honest portuguese restaurant. it’s in the central square, near where the electric tram makes it’s first stop. it’s called Pico or Picau.

    if they are in the mood for good fish and a drive they should go to Paniche, a functioning, famed fishing village to the north.

    En route to Paniche is my favorite place. A rustic fish restaurant on a cliff above the ocean. It’s a bit of a drive if you take the scenic road that passes through Guincho and Mafra and continue on. If they decide to make the drive, they should keep an eye out for Praia de Assento, one of the last beaches they can turn onto. Then follow signs to clube naval de assento. The restaurant is called Clube Naval de Assento. It’s fantastic and so are the views. if they are in the mood for good fish and a drive they should go to Paniche, a functioning, famed fishing village to the north.

    En route to Paniche is my favorite place. A rustic fish restaurant on a cliff above the ocean. It’s a bit of a drive if you take the scenic road that passes through Guincho and Mafra and continue on. If they decide to make the drive, they should keep an eye out for Praia de Assento, one of the last beaches you can turn onto. Then follow signs to clube naval de assento. The restaurant is called Clube Naval de Assento. It’s fantastic and so are the views. the owner is a real fisherman and everything is caught that day just below the restaurant.

    *this will eat up most of your day unless you start out early. there’s obidos, a medieval town where ginja, a sweet, cherry liquor, is made, and paniche are both near by… all these towns are to the north. if you take the highway you’ll be there in 20 minutes or less. along the seaside road, it will take about an hour and a half.

    for sweets- well lisbon pastearias can be a bit disgusting. in general the sweets are heavy on egg yolks and sugar. in sintra there are good bakeries and in cascais also. don’t try anything that doesn’t look good. the most famous ice cream in Portugal is in cascais come from Santini. it’s good but the portuguese love it and it’s an old establishment. a modest setting in a strip mall with about 30 flavors.

    the 1st generation of immigrants began to arrive in Portugal not too long ago. so some interesting hole in the wall places exist. there’s a good Nepalese restaurant in the Rossio, which makes excellent nam, called Mt. Everest. there’s also a Japanese place, the name is escaping me just now…. sorry. there’s a good Brazilian place called Picanha. There you’ll eat all the picanha and black beans and fried bananas you desire for 13 euros. also, if you cant make it to the beach but want a nice cocktail go to Armazen F, sit in the lounge chairs in front of the river and have a caipirinha. This is just behind the main train station, Cais de Sodre, along the river. it’s slow service, the caiparinhas are a bit too expensive but it’s just great there. the setting is wonderful on a sunny day. near the castle is chapito. a v. popular tourist-y place but the views are great and portuguese as well as visitors go. once you walk in and see the view you’ll se why.

    in general, the nightlife in the bairro alto is good but the food is not. you can find things and it will be fine but is your curious about the food culture it won’t lend much insight. there’s a fairly good rule of thumb- follow your instincts, if it doesn’t look great don’t eat there. ive found good restaurants this way and when ive ignored this it’s fine but always reaffirms my first reaction.

    i hope this helps and that it’s not too confusing. i don’t have time to double check on the exact spellings etc b/c am about to leave for the south. however, it would honestly be a pleasure to give you more specific tips and sent my contact to your email address.

    it’s a wonderful city. i hope you enjoy yourself….

    all the best,
    katherine greenwald

  • May 18, 2007 8:42am

    Eat lots of Serra da Estrela cheese with pumpkin jam. In fact, eat cheese at every opportunity — there are some fabulous ones.

    Wander in a grocery store and marvel at the sizes and grades of dried salt cod. Although the fresh fish will be plentiful, be sure to try some of the amazing salt cod preparations.

    Drink chilled white port as an aperitif.

    Have a great time.

  • May 18, 2007 9:08am

    Dude, bring sunglasses..

  • May 18, 2007 9:33am

    i’ve had fantastic meals at bota alta in the bairro alto http://www.frommers.com/destinations/lisbon/D38291.html
    delightful portuguese food in a crammed tavern. go early as lines tend to form from 8pm!

  • Aaron
    May 18, 2007 10:24am

    Then I’ll fifth, sixth and seventh the first recommendation. I went there every day I was in Lisbon. Those little pasteles de belem are just insanely good. (NB…I skip the cinnamon that they accompany these with there…overpowering)

  • May 18, 2007 10:42am

    Hi David,
    Found you through Ruhlman’s site. I like what you do. I am about to head to Paris for my yearly stay. If you are around, first round on me.

  • May 18, 2007 12:10pm

    Kevin: Do you think all restaurants will be sliding-scale too?

  • cj
    May 18, 2007 5:15pm

    I don’t know the name of this restaurant, but take the tram up the hill (what a trip!)towards the church where St. Anthony was born. There are loads of restaurants as you walk up the hill. This one has Fado music at night, is painted white, and the grill is on the left hand side towards the back of the restaurant. It was like a lovely little cave. The waitress was an angel and the food brilliant. And I think you’ll make a lovely Lisbion.

  • maiolicagirl
    May 19, 2007 12:31pm

    Lisboa is one of my favorite cities. All the food bases have been covered above, yummy custard tarts, but if you want the real deal try:
    Taberna Abaiuca in Alfama – Rua de San Miguel, 20-1100
    Phone: 21 886 7284
    The owner is a retired lawyer and this little gem is his passion. Some evenings he features local Fado singers-call ahead and reserve. The food is country food, caldo verde, roasted chorizo,or grilled fish.
    The Portuguese people are generous, vibrant and welcoming. One warning about the food-the Portuguese love their salt. I found most of the food way too salty-so if you can, ask the restaurants to hold the salt!
    If you want to go to an amazing Fado club there is one around the corner http://www.esquinadealfama.com/ – ask the owner of Abaiuca and he will personally walk you over to the club!
    Other local spots not to miss are:
    The Fado Museum (hey, I’m Scottish maudlin is my thing)
    The Azulejo (Tile) museum-Portugal is all about Fado and Maiolica ceramic tile murals.
    Make sure you stop by one of the many Jinja Bars and have a glass (a potent cherry brandy) with all the business men on their way home after work.
    Have a great time and good luck with your tour.

  • Paula
    May 19, 2007 5:31pm

    We just got back from 8 days in Paris and recommend two excellent restuarants. We eat, drink and breath food and wine and these filled the bill beautifully. Le Cameleon on rue Chevreuse (6th) was excellent in every way as was Le Reche, av des Ternes (17th) (apparently was recently taken in hand by Alain Ducasse). If you are fish and seafood lovers as we are this is a must

  • May 19, 2007 6:31pm

    fresh sardines is all I have to say,

  • simona
    May 20, 2007 3:56pm

    Better to be a Lisbion than a Pharisee
    Bon Voyage, Oh,and did anyone mention the sardines??

  • May 21, 2007 8:25am

    Hi David, I was in Lisbon for the Christmas holidays and our best meal by far was at a restaurant called Ponto Final (which means “full stop”)in Almada. We had to take a ferry and walk along a dodgy-looking quay to get there, which was all part of the fun. Once you’re there it feels incredibly remote, with a great view of the city across the water. The octopus in olive oil was the best I’ve ever tasted and the grilled fish was wonderful. Overall, we didn’t have a lot of great meals in Lisbon but we did love the pastries!

  • Marc
    May 21, 2007 1:52pm

    David –
    I love Lisbon; especially the steep streets and stepped allies of the Bairro Alto. Besides being enormously picturesque, there are so many wonderful little non-jadedd specialty shops and bakeries both on the main streets as well as tucked away in unexpected places. If you’re looking for an interesting place to have an authentic and economic dining experience, I agree with Johanna, try Bota Alto up behind the Rossio train station. Though they’ve hit the tourist radar, I just happened upon it with some friends one night and it was a great adventure, especially since we didn’t speak much Portugese. We got there pretty early, and had to wait in line for quite a while, but it was worth it! It’s cramped, noisy and blue, but the menu is varied and the house wine is good (which always helps).
    Address: Travessa da Queimada 37, Lisbon, Portugal
    Phone: 21/342-7959
    If you happen to have time to venture outside the city, the former royal city of Sintra is a very short distance by train from the Rossio and there are some interesting places to explore off the beaten path there as well.

    Got room for one more?

  • May 21, 2007 7:49pm

    i live in lisbon and i read your blog.

    restaurants where “lisboetas ” do go:
    – joao do grao at rua dos correeiros, near rossio, a classic popular restaurant where cod fish is great. (not expensive)
    – 1 de maio (primeiro de maio) at rua da atalaia, bairro alto, simple portuguese food. (not expensive)
    – cervejaria ramiro, at av. almirante reis/rua da palma, the best sea food in town (the neighboorhood is not so great, take a taxi and go straight to ramiro’s.)
    – pap’assorda, up to date, fashionable place since the eighties, great food, medium to high prices, at rua da atalaia at bairro alto, you must make reservations.
    – pasteis de belem, off course
    – there are lots more, indeed!

    (some names are mispelled because the accents or “cedilles” don’t work)

    june is the month of all feasts and holidays here in lisbon, there will be street balls, music, wine and grilled sardines everywhere.
    beware of “pieges a touristes ” at alfama and bairro alto.
    mail me if you need my contact and some more tips, i will be happy to help you. welcome to lisbon, david!

  • jbs
    May 24, 2007 11:33pm

    Last year I went to Berthillon because of a post here. It’s time to reward!

    So, let’s go!
    At Belém:
    Must see: Torre de Belém, Jerónimos and a tropical garden back to ‘pastéis de Belém’.
    Must eat: pastéis de Belém (some…) perhaps with cinnamon, but I like them with gruée de cacao too.
    Must buy: wine and all at Coisas do Arco do Vinho, one of the best wine shops at Centro Cultural de Belém.
    About pasteis de Belém: perhaps better there are ‘pasteis de Santo António’,at Av. Afonso de Albuquerque,nº2, at Costa da Caparica in the south margin of Tejo, not much far from Ponto Final.

    At Alfama, Castelo and Graça : take the tram 28, that one of’Lisbon Story’ by Wim Wenders,and appraise the colour of the light and the view from Miradouro das Portas do Sol.You may climb to the castle, but must eat: in 10 minutes walking to north you are at Largo da Graça, nº95, in front of ‘Pitéu’, a familiar restaurant with true food. Enter to the bottom and appreciate the Serra cheese (very soft to hard), and sausages and ham from iberic pork.

    At Bairro Alto : must eat – 1º de Maio at Rua da Atalaia nº8, Pap’Açorda at the same street nº57. Near to Bairro Alto, at Rua do Alecrim ,nº 47A, there is ‘A Charcutaria’ a good restaurant with food from Alentejo, the most aromatic.(look the desserts…)
    Other places: O Galito at Rua da Fonte, near Metro Carnide, very good from Alentejo too; O Poleiro atRua de Entrecampos nº 30A, food from Minho in the north.

    ‘Un peu plus cher’: Conventual at Pç das Flores; Terreiro do Paço at the Square with the same name in front of the river ( must see);Tromba Rija, Vírgula, following the river; Valle Flor at Pestana Palace and many others.

    About fish and shellfish: Cervejaria Ramiro is all right, but you have better going outside to Sesimbra,Caparica, Setúbal along the west side of Av Luisa Tody.

    About pastries and desserts: the world most perfect food is an egg- Pim says! Traditional desserts from convents are much better than those from pastries shops but have a lot of yolks, almonds and sugar.
    But you should visit O’O Astro’ at Av Guerra Junqueiro nº6 B (Metro Alameda), or Confeitaria Nacional at Praça da Figueira nº18 B.

    About chococolate: with the excption of restaurants ‘upper class’ Chocolate is not top quality and too sweet. Only one place: Mercearia da Atalaia at Rua da Atalaia nº64 (nice street…). Try the dark squares Of intense ganache or ‘truffes au caramel et fleur de sel’, with the true and white fleur de sel from Algarve, or ‘zestes d’ orange cristalisées enrobés en chocolat noir’.

    To finish, let me speak again about glaces: take a walk at Cascais and go to Santini at Av Valbom 28 F. It’s a long story that began by 1860-1870 at Wien, Austria, and in POrtugal since 1949.

    Have a good time.

  • May 25, 2007 10:45am

    Lisbon, ahhh, we love it! In case you need even more recommendations, you may want to read about our latest trip. Have fun and eat some still warm Pasteis for us!

  • A Reader
    June 2, 2007 6:30am

    Hi, David

    Have I got a restaurant for you!
    I was in Lisbon two years ago and found an incredible place to eat. It’s family owned and the food is classic Portuguese favorites…they do not speak English there at all and there are no tourists. They are only open for lunch.

    Most plats are grilled over a wood fire out front by the Grandfather while the Grandmother is cooking in the kitchen. They serve fish that is so fresh it almost jumps out of the display case! I highly recommend everything. Also, try the
    sheep’s milk cheeses especially “Serra de Estrella and Niza”. For a digestif have some ginginha which is house made cherry brandy.

    The name is Restaurant Solar do Passadico on Rua do Passadico.