A 30.000 pies por viajeros para viajeros

Eating Out in Lisbon – 5 Places, 5 Specialities

Lovers of good food will be especially impressed with Lisbon. Here, tradition and the avant-garde coexist in mutual harmony and quality. At times, they even fuse to create the coolest, most delectable foodie experiences. Take note of these five venues well worth visiting, and deserving more than just a bite.

An Unforgettable Brunch at Chafariz del Rei

An unassuming alleway to those who don’t suspect what lies in this quaint 13th-century building, breathing the luxury of bygone times, behind its imposing, locked door. Visitors have to ring the bell and wait. And, as they hear the key turning in the lock, the mystery deepens. Inside lie stately rooms with unusual, meticulous interior design. You have come to Chafariz del Rei, a place which is surprising and captivating from start to finish. It is ideal for enjoying a brunch (18 euros per head), comprising tea or coffee, natural fruit juices, homemade buns, bread, homemade jams, eggs any style, fruit salads, a cheeseboard, sausage and dessert. The best place to enjoy this food is of course on the terrace, bathed in sunlight, with the murmur of a fountain and a relaxing view. A divine moment you will never forget. But, you have to book in advance.

A Traditional Bill of Fare at the Cova Funda Intendente

The cantinas, an old Lisbon favourite, are still going strong. These genuine, popular eateries, replete with surly waiters, parties who talk (too) loud and paper place mats, where the menu is cobbled up by the family’s grandmother and two diners can wolf down food like there was no tomorrow for under 30 euros. With wine, coffee and dessert included. Take, for instance, the Cova Funda Intendente. Their speciality is – naturally – codfish, cooked to a thousand different recipes. Special mention goes to this fish done à brás (a sort of hashed codfish with egg, garlic, courgette, olives, onion and potatoes). The dish is as tasty as it is addictive. It is impossible to stop eating it, even when you’re about to burst. But, don’t even think of ordering one dish per person, as here the helpings are gargantuan. One helping is for two or more diners. As a first course, they make a superb bread soup (a vegetable broth with egg and sliced bread).

Original, Inimitable Pastéis de Belém

As soon as you set foot in the airport, your mouth will water by simply catching a glimpse of the pastéis de Belém, the country’s best known confectionery. And, you come across it all over Lisbon. But, in this case, I make no excuses for being a purist – the originals are inimitable. To try them, you have to go to Belém and wait patiently in the queue that forms on a daily basis in front of the Casa Pastéis de Belém and goes around the block. Here, where they make about 10,000 tarts a day, the confectionery was first invented. It’s worth waiting for. A mere bite into one of these custard tarts, eaten freshly baked and dusted with castor sugar and cinnamon, is simply divine.

A Cool Market for the Modern

Something has changed. Something is simmering here. Something is happening in Lisbon and the ferment smacks of a commitment to tradition, but with a modern touch. Tried and tested favourites always endure, but they adapt to an audience eager for new culinary experiences. This is what strikes you at the Mercado da Ribeira, now converted into a cool market boasting the best street food stalls in the city. Here you can feast on anything – local sausage or cheeses, internationally-inspired delicacies (pizza, prawn-and-beef hamburgers), traditional dishes (seafood grill, croquettes, rices…), preserves, cocktails, pastries, ice-creams, etc. The prices do, however, soar in comparison to the street stalls in the city centre, but a visit to this gastronomic market, which draws hundreds of people sharing tables each weekend, comes highly recommended. Mercado da Ribeira: Avenida 24 de Julho 50, 1200-109, Lisboa.

Charming Restaurant, Lisboan Fare

Typically Lisboan cuisine which gives a nod to the present, served in a priceless, modern establishment full of charm – the former premises of the Real Fábrica da Seda. What’s on the menu? Pastéis de bacalhau (cod fritters), duck with rice and octopus feijoada, a seafood stew with beans. The average price is 30 euros per head.

Come on! I’m sure your mouth was watering as you read this post. Check out our flights to Lisbon and feast on their culinary delights.

Text and images by Laia Zieger (Gastronomistas)