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Lisbon Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


fredbram
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If you want to buy some fine wine or grocery there's a gourmet shop called "Mercearia da Atalaia", at Rua da Atalaia, on Bairro Alto, a short way walk from Largo de Camões. 

Lisbon was our final stop on our Portugal vacation and we were only there for a day and while there stumbled across Mercearia da Atalaia. So glad that we did! Its a wonderful store and the owner and other employee were exceedingly helpful, carefully packaging our wares for the flight back to the states and guiding us to a couple of traditional restaurants in the area...i can't remember the name of it but as i mentioned on another thread it served a wonderful rendition of pork and clams and we would have never found it if it wasn't for the women working at this store.

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  • 3 months later...

One week to go, and so far have dinners planned at Kais and Adega das Gravatas and either lunch or dinner at a fish restaurant on the other side of the river (all with friends from Lisbon, so they're choosing the restaurants). I've figured out the closest location of Pingo Doce to our apartment, and am considering old school meals at Pasteleria Versailles, Confeitaria Nacional, Martinho da Arcada, and Casa do Alentejo.

Comments or tips on any of these?

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Hi therese

You might find some of these mentioned in Miguel Cardoso's posts...

If you have a car, and are able to get out to Cascais, I would highly recommend the michelin starred Porto Santa Maria, a beautiful restaurant with excellent food and service (esp. if you like fish) and it won't break the bank...

In Lisbon, I really like Fidalgo, and you can usually get good bacalhau/fish specials in A Bota Alta, both in the Bairro Alto neighbourhood, not too far from Chiado.

I wouldn't recommend the seafood restaurants in downtown Lisbon so much, particularly the ones on Rua Portas de Santo Antao, except maybe Gambrinus, which is a bit pricey, but worth it.

Hmm what else...there is one Miguel recommended, which though I've never been, I have been past many times and it really does look as good as Miguel says. It's the seafood restaurant called Ramiro...it's been on my list for some time...

There are lots of good places in the Alfama area as well...

Have fun...

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Thanks for the info, Luis, particularly as I've been thinking about where specifically to try in Bairro Alto.

We're going to Cascais on Friday afternoon with a friend who works on the west side of town (prior to dinner later than afternoon at Kais), so I don't know if we'll go back there later in the week or not. But Michelin-starred, hmmm...

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I'll add my voice to those advocating a trip to El Corte Ingles. We visited on the recommendation of a friend with, in truth, some scepticism. Yet we were bowled over by the huge array, and the quality, of the produce on offer. From memory, the excellent bakery and the cheeses stood out particularly. The seafood is also very fresh - ie. still swimming in some cases. We also stocked up from the range of interesting coffee beans on offer.

On our last visit we didn't dine systematically from recommendations or guides, but wandered through the Bairro Alta looking for places that looked good. We were never dismayed - although if you use this method you might have to get in ahead of the crowds. That said, we did try Cervejaria da Trindade based on prior reading. This is a beer and dining institution dating back to the nineteenth-century, apparently, and it was indeed hugely atmospheric and packed with local families dining out. However, while the food was OK and pretty cheap, it was not really anything special... but worth considering for the space, decor and buzz.

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Thanks for the additional info re El Corte Ingles, Kropotkin. It's a bit out of the way relative to some other places, but my travel companion is also very much into food and I may be able to convince her that we need to make a visit. And maybe we'll check out the shoe department while we're there.

Fortaleza da Guincho looks lovely, LuisMiguel, though unless my local friend takes us there unlikely to happen. There's always next time, though.

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I buy fresh fish in Cascais Fish Market. There, you have fresh Seabass, that is probably the best fish in Portugal. Saturday's morning is the best time to go there. I never buy fish in El Corte Ingles supermarket, because I had some bad experiences. It seems good, but it's not always.

Edited by PauloR (log)
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I  buy fresh fish  in Cascais Fish Market. There, you have fresh Seabass, that is probably the best fish in Portugal. Saturday's morning is the best time to go there. I never buy fish in El Corte Ingles supermarket, because I had some bad experiences. It seems good, but it's not always.

I'll be eating so much fish in restaurants while in Lisbon I'm unlikely to cook it at home---I normally eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, so meals at home will likely emphasize those items (as restaurant meals tend to be a bit heavier on meat/fish and starches).

Like you I won't buy fresh fish in a supermarket, and though I suppose one would like to think that it would be a better situation in Portugal than elsewhere I'm not surprised to hear that you've had bad luck.

Just five hours until I leave for the airport!

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Hope you'll have a pleasant stay therese.

You may depend on it. :wink:

I've promised to have a drink for so many of my friends here at home while I'm there I may not be able to recall any of the details on my return.

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I'm coming to this thread a bit late, I realize... I've been off working and had a hell of a time getting home from California this past weekend! :wacko:

So, on the off chance Therese sees this while in Lisbon, I thought I'd toss out a couple of very informal Bairro Alto restaurants I used to frequent that are literally a three-minute walk from the Largo do Chiado (and second the recommendation above for Fidalgo--excellent kitchen, and they usually have some game dishes that one doesn't find too many other places... don't miss the "hare pie!"). It's now been 10 years since I lived there (!), and I hope my info is still good.

So if you want a respectable, inexpensive meal without going far or needing a reservation, try:

O Cantinho do Bem-Estar - Rua do Norte, 46. Tiny and always packed because the excellent cooking as such a good value. I remember the pataniscas de bacalhau com arroz de feijão being especially good here.

Restaurante Alfaia - Trav. Queimada, 18. I used to eat here almost every week (when I took one of my Portuguese friends there once, his surprised observation to me was, "You are known here!"). It was one of those places that seemed almost frozen in time... the interior looked as if nothing had changed in 60 or 70 years. Then, on my last visit a couple of years ago, I was dismayed to discover they had done some remodeling... for me, it was not an improvement. But the food was still good. If you go on a Friday, you must, without fail, get the bacalhau à Minhota. They also make just about the best traditional Portuguese desserts I tried anywhere--I'm not normally much of a dessert person, but I could rarely resist here (the quente e frio and the bolo de bolacha were my favorites).

Restaurante Vá e Volte - Rua Diário de Notícias, 100. Website. The pratos do dia are always especially good.

A Janela do Bairro - Rua do Teixeira, 1. Quiet, almost intimate--a more refined experience than the three mentioned above, but still quite reasonably priced. Open late (which more for me was often an important consideration!).

Those are my best suggestions. Bota Alta is quite popular with the tourist crowd--it's quite okay, but not significantly better than the ones I mention above. I had a good meal and pleasant enough service during my one visit to Pap' Açorda, but it is a bit expensive and I suppose the fact that I never went back says something. Still, it was fun dining with Jeremy Irons at the next table. I love Brasserie de L'Entrecôte, but it ain't cheap.

Happy eating!

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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Well, back in Atlanta, after a really splendid week in Lisbon. I've got lots of photos to share once I get sufficient time to download them to ImageGullet, but in the interim I'll give some general impressions of Lisbon for any of you that might be considering a visit.

1. Lisbon is very clean, it's public transit system is the best I've ever used, and the locals are generally efficient and friendly (with the possible exception of those that routinely deal with tourists). Beautiful, beautiful city.

2. Food and drink are inexpensive, in restaurants as well as markets. One day my travelling companion went out to buy oranges and I asked her to pick up some wine as well. She came back with six beautiful oranges, a nice bottle of white wine, and change from 2 euros.

3. The Portuguese diet is every bit as healthy as it's billed to be. Not only is there plenty of fish, but meals are routinely served with vegetables and salad, and the fruit section of the menu is often longer than the dessert section.

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Okay, so here are some photos along with some additional info that you might find helpful if you're visiting Lisbon.

Our flight from Atlanta left about 9:00 PM. I'd worked until 7:00 PM, jumped in a taxi, and arrived just in time to purchase a Big Mac and fries before boarding. I chose the Big Mac because McDonald's had the shortest line in the food court at the airport, but in any case it seemed a fitting last meal in the U.S. I used to work at McDonald's when I was in high school, and I'm pretty sure I haven't eaten a Big Mac since then, but so far as I can tell it hasn't changed a bit. The fries were for my traveling companion, M, a friend from work. By the time we reached cruising altitude an hour had passed, so I took my Ambien (which works better on an empty stomach), fell asleep, and awoke as we approached the airport in Madrid.

Madrid airport food concessions are reasonable: I had a ham sandwich and a beer, with yogurt for dessert, and M had coffee. The first of many, many coffees, as she is originally from Croatia and coffee clearly tastes of home.

Our flight to Lisbon on Portugalia was brief, but included meal service of a calzone and beverage (beer for me---you'll start to notice a theme here).

Cab ride to our apartment was just under 10 euro. Here's picture of the outside. You enter from the green door in the bottom right of the picture, and the apartment's on the 4th floor (U.S. fifth). There's a lift, very convenient for luggage and groceries:

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The apartment itself is lovely, and includes an extraordinarily well-equipped kitchen:

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This is only one corner of the kitchen, about a one third of the total space that also includes built-in washer/dryer, refrigerator, separate freezer, microwave, and dishwasher.

There's a counter along one wall that serves as a breakfast bar, with a recess for two bar stools, but we took our breakfast at the small table in front of the french doors so that we could take advantage of the view (which includes the Tejo) and the fresh air:

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There's also a full dining room. Those chairs are surprisingly comfortable, and the wall of cabinets on the right contains all sorts handy things like guide books and toys and extra linens:

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Spendid views of Praca Luis de Camoes from the dining room (with a narrow terrace accessible via the french doors):

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Praca Luis de Camoes is officially in the Chiado, but just at the edge of Bairro Alto, which gets very busy and crowded on weekend evenings. Fortunately the windows are sound-proof, so the noise is no problem.

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We spent our first afternoon in Lisbon strolling around the Chiado and down to the Baixa, pausing en route at the foot of the Elevador Santa Justa:

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We consumed (huge surprise here) coffee and beer. I'll let you figure out which one of us enjoyed which beverage:

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We continued on to the Baixa, where we bought roasted chestnuts from a vendor in Rua Augusta. It seemed awfully late in the season for roasted chestnuts, but they were very nice, and an appropriate first food for Lisbon:

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As it grew dark we headed over to the Pingo Doce to stock our kitchen: coffee (there was some, but M wanted fresh), tea, yogurt, breakfast cookies, fruit. cheese, etc. We dined at home on soft unripened cheese, strawberries, and biscuits, walked around Bairro Alto and down to Cais do Sodre, and fell into bed at 10:00.

I woke up at 6:30 AM, along with the first light over the Tejo and thunderously loud pigeons just outside my window, and breakfasted on tea, cookies, yogurt and fruit. M takes only coffee first thing in the morning, with yogurt an hour or so later.

By mid-morning we'd rolled out of the apartment and caught the 28 tram headed towards the Alfama.

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The walk up through the Alfama to Castelo San Jorge is circuitous and steep in places, so we stopped at this very swish little cafe and wine and cheese shop that's apparently associated with the very, very swish Palacio Belmonte hotel:

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I did not, in fact, consume a "licor in chocolate cup" but instead chose water, while M had coffee.

Edit to add M's slightly out of focus coffee:

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Edited by therese (log)

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By 1:30 we were ready for lunch. Strolling down from the Se we had to decide between Martinho da Arcado and Confeitaria Nacional. We chose the latter, and regrettably I didn't take any pictures of the exterior as it's quite pretty. The dining room upstairs is also quite pretty, very "ladies who lunch" with a nice sprinkling of business people in suits, and nice views over the Praca da Figuera.

We both chose one of the pratas do dia, bacalhau com broa de milho (which was delicious):

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The price includes a beverage and a sweet. M had something flan-like, and I had rice pudding. Both on the sweet and stodgy side, but then that's what they're supposed to be:

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Coffee to finish:

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Friday afternoon we meet a local friend and colleague of mine, also M (so I'll call her M2) at her office, and she drives us west along the coast to Cascais. We stop along the way at an incredibly beautiful place for coffee (for the two Ms) and a caiparinha (for me, possibly explaining the fact that I don't photograph this beverage).

In Cascais we see small fishing boats:

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We also see these traps. I don't know what they're used to catch; in the U.S. I'd guess lobster or crabs, but M2 didn't think so. Does anybody know?

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M2 lives on the other side of the Tejo, in Montijo (where she was born, and where her mother was born, and where she is apparently related to lots and lots of people). We took the freeway around Lisbon (horrific traffic) and across the Vasco da Gama bridge to her home, where she cooked dinner for two of her children and picked up the third for dinner in Alcochete at Arrastao. Arrastao is a large, casual place that specializes in very fresh seafood:

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Should you not care for fish you might consider rabbit:

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Starters at Arrastao included:

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The latter picture depicts something that's somewhere between chicharrones and pork cracklings. There was also linguica but the photo didn't turn out, almost certainly several other items.

The main course was several different sorts of fish. The one shown here is, I believe, sargo, a fish I'd never had before with a distinctive flavor to the flesh:

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Along with the fish we had plain vegetables (including green beans and boiled potatoes) and salad as well as some very addictive salt-roasted jacket potatoes:

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I'd been planning on fruit for dessert, but then I saw floating island (which has a different name in Portuguese that I don't recall) in the dessert case and changed my mind. Very rich, with a much eggier and sweeter custard base:

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We caught the 11:00 PM ferry from Montijo back to Cais do Sodre and strolled home to our cozy apartment.

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Saturday morning we woke early (again, the sun on the Tejo and the pigeons very effective) and decided we'd go to Mercado da Ribeira to find things for lunch. filipe had pointed out that "all the saints help" on the way down hill, but I decided that we wouldn't rely on them for the return trip, and so took the Elevador da Bica. A very efficient means of getting groceries up a steep incline, and convenient to both our apartment and the market):

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The market was predominantly fish, meat, and produce, with one egg vendor and a couple of bakeries, as well as a large area for fresh flowers. No dairy that we could find, which is unfortunate as M has a bit of a fetish for yogurt and wanted to try some local production.

Some interesting fish:

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The eels were alive, and writhing suggestively:

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This woman was scaling this fish, and if you look closely you can see the scales in the air like snowflakes:

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The produce at Ribeira was pretty straightforward stuff, so the only photo I took was this one:

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What the heck is this?

Here's a close-up:

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So far as I can tell it's shredded something or other, possibly tough greens to be used in soup. Other other hand maybe it's to be used for display, perhaps for Easter.

We bought a loaf of bread that turned out to contain a fair amount of cornmeal, and looked around the top level, as I'd heard there were arts & crafts vendors there, but all we saw were a book shop and a pretty cool looking ballroom that would be a cool place for a tea dance (but on Saturday only featured a few older ladies sitting alone).

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Having purchased bread and produce we rode the Elevador da Bica back up the hill and stopped in at a small grocery on Rua da Horta Seca to purchase tinned fish and cheese. Back home we laid out lunch:

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The tin in front is tuna in olive oil, and the tin in back is octopus in olive oil. The cheese was pretty bland, and even leaving it out at room temp for the remainder of our stay didn't do much towards improving it. For dessert we had yogurt and strawberries.

No cooking involved, so we didn't utilize the beautiful kitchen to its full potential, but then we were on holiday after all. :wink:

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