I spent a week in Lisbon, travelling with 2 friends who are possibly more obsessed with food that I am. I usually spent the days on my own and met up with my friends for dinner, thus experiencing the city both as a solo traveller and in company. I really enjoyed my stay: it’s a great city to wander, had some lovely food, some just ok food, and only 1 truly disappointing dinner.
On day 1, we arrived late at our hotel and then took a taxi to the café Sao Bento for some of the famous steaks in creamy sauce with a fried egg on top. Lovely old fashioned space (think red velvet banquettes), attentive but unobtrusive service, great wines. My friends did not enjoy the food as much as I did – I thought the steak was strange (I’ve never seen a steak this pale), but very tender. And with the rich sauce, runny egg yolk, and a couple of glasses of red wine, this was just what I needed after a day of travelling.
The next day I had coffee and a pastel de nata at café Brasiliera, and enjoyed the “I’m here and so was Pessoa” experience. After that, lunch and some wifi time at the very relaxed and comfortable Pois café in Alfama.
Drinks and dinner at Wine bar Artis. Good service, good wine recommendations, but the food was only ok – it felt a bit ‘tired’ if that makes any sense.
The next day I happened to walk past Tasca do Esquina at 12:29 and saw that they opened for lunch at 12:30…. Not having any specific plans for the afternoon, I thought why not? Had a delicious dish of cold codfish carpaccio topped with hot salty shoestring fries en a fried egg. So simple yet really one of the best things I’d eaten in a long time. My next dish of Portuguese sausage with broad beans was unfortunately covered with a vinaigrette that had loads of raw onion in it, which is one of the very few things I don’t eat, so I could not fully enjoy that. Attentive service. Overall I found that after the initial surprise of seeing a woman out dining alone, waitstaff was accommodating and I felt welcome and cared for.
That night, drinks in 2 wine bars near the castle: Instinctus and Wine bar do Castelo. At the latter we also had some terrific charcuterie, cheeses, and an olive oil tasting.
After that we took a taxi to a place that intrigued us: A Casa do Bacalhau where they do cod, cod and more cod. Unfortunately we found the place pompous and pretentious and the food very, very mediocre.
The next day I took the tram to Belem and visited the Monastery, but not after sitting down at the Antigua Confiteria for coffee and another Pastel. Of course I’m no expert but I have to say that I had enjoyed the one at Brasileira more.. the one in Belem seemed to have a curdled filling. Still delicious though.
I had lunch at the Enoteca de Belem (just some charcuterie and cheese, and wine of course !). Nice atmosphere, a little too formal for my taste but maybe it gets livelier in the evenings.
That night I met up with my travel companions for dinner at Sinal Vermelho. Loved it there… great service, informal and fun atmosphere, and simple but great food. Loved the fried sardines and the sole with a creamy sauce, and the veal steak that was so tender I could cut it with a spoon.
After that, drinks at the Cinco Lounge – where the bartender made me a cocktail that was exactly to my very specific tastes. My friends are definitely more knowledgeable about cocktails than me, and did not enjoy theirs as much, so I can't really vouch for the quality of this place as a cocktail lounge...
The next day, I’m sorry to say, we were quite hung over :) but still managed to take the train to Sintra for some sightseeing. In Sintra we sampled different versions of the local specialty, Queijada de Sintra cakes. Also had a nice lunch with more savoury and sweet pastries at the café Saudade.
In the evening we had a fabulous dinner of crab and various shrimp and prawns at Ramiro. A very fun place. Don’t expect to eat anything but shellfish and some bread, that’s all they do, but oh so good!
The next day I was on my own. Had a nice and rather fancy dinner at Bocca. After the fish extravaganza it was nice to sit down to something elegant.. I really enjoyed the braised quail with fresh green peas, especially because it had been a while since I had seen a green vegetable.
All in all, a lovely first visit to Lisboa and I’m already planning my next visit for October.