EATING OUT IN LISBON
Farah's wine and travel writer Joana here! For the second part on our blog series about Lisbon travel we are biting into the city’s food scene: off the beaten path treats, restaurants not to miss and tips to eat around like a local. Hope you enjoy it!
Here in Portugal, we are passionate about food, and not just eating: we’re passionate about cooking, eating, talking about it - and everything in between. We’re the kind of people that loves having lunch while discussing what we’ll have for dinner.
If you’re coming to Portugal, just make sure you taste all the pastries, like the iconic pastéis de nata, while sipping an espresso coffee. Try as many dishes of bacalhau as you can, and a good variety of fish, seafood and petiscos (smaller plates made to share and eat with bread). Also, don’t skip dessert – embrace it.
By know, you’re probably thinking you’ll gain ten pounds, but you won’t because you’ll love walking up and down the city’s hills to discover every little corner and secret spot.
THE BASICS | WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Dinner time - We Portuguese people eat lunch between 12:30pm and 2pm and then dinner around 8pm/9pm. We’re big eaters, which means restaurant portions are quite generous, so as a rule of thumb always consider asking one portion for two people.
Tipping! - People always ask me what is customary for tipping and the truth is there is no rule. I know it is customary to tip a certain percentage in the US but that is not the case here. It doesn’t mean we don’t tip or that you shouldn’t – you should, if you want to. If you feel you’ve received a good service and you’re happy, you should tip! How much? Totally up to you!
Where is the bill? Oh! and that reminds me of another thing. At restaurants, once you’re finished, ask for the bill – people won’t bring it to you unless you ask.
And reservations? Be sure to make them – just to be safe. If there’s a restaurant you really want to go to, give them a call – you won’t be here that long, and you might miss the chance to go.
5 PLACES YOU MUST GO
Time Out market is a must-go any day and anytime of the day, it is low budget and has plenty of different options to choose from. Then I always say Ramiro restaurant because it is my favorite seafood experience in Lisbon, then Taberna do Calhau, which is a tiny restaurant in Mouraria where tradition meats modern cuisine. Fourth, I’m suggesting Ponto Final, a restaurant on the south margin of the Tejo river, because the best way to contemplate Lisbon is from the outside.
Lastly, if you’re planning on adventuring through the wine region, then stop at Curral do Burro, a little bistro like restaurant on top of one of the highest hills in Portugal and the view is just breathtaking.
Time out market
Farmers market turned into the coolest food court in the city! Here you can taste dishes by Portuguese renowned chefs, typical cuisine with a spin, have a drink or just enjoy a quick snack. My advice is to try a bunch of different places, ask for one or two things and share everything at a table.
Address: Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479 Lisboa
Our very own Rachel Farah enjoying Time Out!
Also one of the late Anthony Bourdain’ favourite places in Lisbon. In regular times, you’ll find a crowd of people waiting outside, drinking wine and beer. When you get in, get ready - you will be served either beer or wine alongside big platters of fresh and cooked seafood. You’ll think you can’t handle dessert, but the experience isn’t whole without it – at Ramiro, the traditional way to finish a meal is with a prego (a beef sandwich with mustard) – not kidding!
Address: Avenida Almirante Reis, 1H, Mouraria, Lisboa
Ramiro is a seafood must!
Restaurant Ponto Final
Picture this – end of the day, warm sunset, chilled and crisp white wine just sitting on the frappé and you’re eating fresh fish and seafood right on the river (literally, a step forward and you’re dipping your toe). The only sounds you hear are the water waving below you and people talking, happily. Although this is on the south side of the river, it is worth the drive. This way you get a full look of the Lisbon beauty.
Take the 10-minute ferry ride across the Tagus from Cais de Sodre to Cacilhas then swing right, past the fishermen, towards the ocean.
Address: Cais do Ginjal, 72, Almada Centro, Almada
Taberna do Calhau
This is a tiny restaurant in Mouraria that is mixing tradition and modern cuisine. Chef Leopoldo Garcia Calhau only uses the best products and producers to bring authentic flavours to the table with a feel of traditional Alentejo. To top things off it is also an olive oil and wine shop. So if you have the time, just talk with the staff and owner and let them wow you with a surprise menu.
Address: Largo das Olarias, 23, 1100-376 Lisboa
Curral do Burro -
A hidden gem - for adventurous travelers! You won’t find a lot of information online or in tour guides. This is a weekend only restaurant that serves regional inspired food, using traditional methods and flavors. The bread is made from scratch onsite and the flour used is still produced in the windmill next to the restaurant like they did hundreds of years ago. The restaurant is located on top of the hill with a terrace overlooking the region. The view is breathtaking and well worth the drive.
Address: Serra de Montejunto (GPS 39.170428, -9.093720)
THINGS YOU MUST TRY
PAISTEIS DE NATA | Pasteis de Belém & Manteigaria
Any food guide will tell you to visit “Pasteis de Belém” and you absolutely should (because they’re the original ones, the founders of the recipe and the culture). It is about the whole experience, tasting the pasteis in the original building, sitting down in a tiny table surrounded by white and blue Portuguese tiles. This spot is a short tram ride from Lisbon's center.
Address Pasteis de Belém: Rua de Belém 84 92, 1300-085 Lisboa
For a quick (and delicious) fix, on the remaining days of your trip, consider going to Manteigaria and wait a little in line to have one or two of these flaky, creamy, mouth filling tarts. Better yet, ask for a six piece box and take them with you on your walks! This spot is right in Lisbon's center!
And here is a nice coincidence ... the family of one of Rachel Farah's wine club members (a Portuguese Living in California) owns this Lisbon staple!
Address Manteigaria: Rua do Loreto, 2, Bairro Alto, Lisboa
Rachel Farah's Sister, Sarah, Enjoying Pasteis!
“Ginjinha” | A Ginjinha Espinheira
This is a classic stop in Lisbon. It is a tiny counter in downtown Lisbon where you’ll find both locals and tourist drinking Ginjinha, a sweet liqueur made from sour cherries soaked in a distilled spirit called aguardente. It can be served on a shot glass or a dark chocolate cup. You will find many places in town selling this drink but “the” spot first opened in 1840 and is still ready to visit on the corner of the emblematic Rossio square.
Address: Largo de São Domingos 8, 1100-201 Lisboa