Saturday, 28 April 2018

Lisbon Spring 2018

Lisbon street

This is less of a post than a quick 'give this a go' list.  Just back from Lisbon and with so many people telling me they are about to visit, and asking where to go, this up to date list might be useful - and I don't have to keep repeating myself.  I've also included some websites containing other people's recommendations on the Portuguese capital in case my Lisbon isn't quite your Lisbon. First, here are my tips.

Cockle, spinach, coriander and fried bread
at Restaurante Prado, Lisbon


Prado Restaurante, Travessa das Pedras Negras 2 (just off Rua da Madalena)
I'm starting with the best.  After 11 years working with Nuno Mendes, including as head chef at Taberna do Mercado in London, chef Antonio Galapito, and his fantastic staff are showing just how good modern Portuguese cooking can be.  A commitment to using the best Portuguese ingredients, and a "if it's not in season, it's not on the table" mind-set, is a great start.  Expect sound skills and flair from the kitchen and flavour, texture and thoughtfulness on the plate.  Definitely order the bread.  Don't order everything you want to eat at once.  Wines are all organic, biodynamic and natural.  Lighting is terrible (a table next to us resorted to phone torches to read the menu).

Cervejaria Ramiro, Avenida Almirante Reis 1. Still the place to eat seafood in Lisbon.  Everyone will tell you to go here, and you should.  Beautifully fresh and reasonably priced.  Favourite things: a copper pot of clams or razor clams in a broth with lots of garlic and coriander.  Mid-afternoon proved a good time to avoid the queues on this visit.

Restaurante Grelha Dom Feijão, Largo Machado de Assis 7D (Metro: Roma)
Neighbourhood restaurant serving really good grilled fish with boiled potatoes (a Portuguese staple).  The owner buys his fish from the best stall (Horacio e Terese's) at nearby Mercado de Alvalade Norte.  There is an outside terrace but get there for 12.00 to get a table outside.

Sol e Pesca, rue Nova do Carvalho 44 (Cais do Sodre area)
Very, very simple.  Tinned fish, basket of bread, glass of beer or Vinho Verde and you are done.  Has charm (have the Pinhais Petingas Picantes sardines or tuna from Acores).

Razor clams
at Cervejaria Ramiro, Lisbon

Manteigaria Fabrica de Pasteis de Nata, Rua do Loreto 2
A small and narrow space close to Baixa-Chiado Metro.  There is a small bar at the back where you can see the pastries being made.  My favourite place for a Pastel de Nata.  Pity about the coffee.  There is also a stall in the Time Out Market (see below).

Kiosk Cafes are regaining their popularity in Lisbon.  Here is a rundown of Quiosques.  Try Quiosque Lisboa, Praca Principe Real and nearby Quiosque de S. Pedro at the Miradouro on Rua Da Pedro V d'Alcantara which has a fine panoramic view taking in Castelo de S. Jorge in Alfama.

Time Out Market/Mercado do Ribeira at Cais do Sodre is useful to know about.  Lots of food stalls and open until midnight.

For ice cream, I like Gelateria Nannarella at Rua Nova da Piedade 54A off the lovely, quiet Praca des Flores. Made by Italians.  Natural ingredients.  It's a tiny shop and you are likely to have to queue but it's worth it.

For coffee, I like Copenhagen Coffee Lab, Rua Nova da Piedade 10 (+ 2 other locations)

Ginjinha hole-in-the-wall Gin Bars around Rossio Station - a shot, with or without sour cherries, for about 1 Euro.

Everybody recommends Taberna das Flores on Rua das Flores.  I'm including it for that reason rather than recommending it.  I loved it for lunch some years back but was disappointed with the dinner on this visit - and I queued and queued for the experience!

If you do find yourself on Rua das Flores and want to cool down, drink coffee/tea and eat chocolate cake, your are in a good place, look for Landau Chocolate cafe at No 70.

Japanese Kano Naizan Namban Screen detail
at Museu Nacional Di Arte Antiga, Lisbon


Museu Nacional Di Arte Antiga, Rua das Janelas Verdes.
12th-19th century paintings, sculpture, silver, gold, jewellery and decorative arts from Portugal and its former colonies.  A whole room full of Zurbaran (the saints), Saint Jerome by Albrecht Durer
National treasures like The Panels of Saint Vincent by Nuno Conclaves and the Belem Monstrance.  Also the Fantastic Japanese Kano Naizan Namban Screens which date from around 1600.

Museu Azulejo, Rua da Madre de Deus 4
If you aren't interested in tiles before you go to Lisbon you soon will be.  Housed in a former convent, the museum covers the history and evolution of the art of the ceramic tile since the 1500's.

Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, Av. de Berna 45A
Huge international art collection.  Modernist architecture.  Beautiful garden.

Jardim Botanico, Principe Real, Lisbon

Universidade de Lisboa Jardim Botanico, Rua da Escola Politecnica 58
This is the botanical garden in central Lisbon - the Principe Real area.  There is another in Belem. This one is very un-manicured and all the better for it.  Atmospheric and the perfect place to cool off.

Bairro de Alfama
The best area to wander in when you don't mind getting lost in its winding streets.  A great view from the Mirador Santo Estêvão.  You may want to queue for entry to the Castelo Sao Jorge.

In Belem - Take Tram 15:
Monasteiros Geronimos Praça do Império, Belem.  Spectacular Cloisters and Church (Vasco da Gama is buried here).
Torre de Belem Avenida de Brasilia, Belem
Monument to the Discoveries Avenida de Brasilia, Belem
Antigua Confeiteria de Belem Rua de Belem 84
Right next door to Monasteries Geronimos for Pasteis de Nata but it's way too touristy now - you might be lucky and hit a quiet moment.  The tiling in the back rooms is worth a look.

In Cascais (train from Cais do Sodre station takes 40 minutes)
Museu Paula Rego Avenida da República 300, Cascais
Re-opens on 8 May with Paula Rego: Folktales and fairytales exhibition.  Great architecture.  

at Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon


Mercado da Ribeira, Avenida 24 de Julho (06.00-14.00).  These days very touristy, drawn by Time Out Market, with its dozens of prepared food stalls, occupying most of the building.  I'm not convinced this is helping the market traders, though some say the Time Out stalls buy fresh produce from them .
Mercado de Alvalade Norte, Av. Rio de Janeiro, near the junction of Av. de Roma and Av. da Igreja (Metro Avalade)
A real fresh food market - good for fish and fruit/vegetables.
Prado Mercearia, Rua das Pedras Negras 35
Linked to Restaurante Prado (see above), this is a lovely little deli/grocery near the restaurante selling Portuguese produce.  There is one small table and you can get a coffee and a little something.


Hot Clube de Portugal, Praca da Alegria 48
I love this jazz club.  Only 10 Euros to get in, reasonably-priced drinks, very friendly.  Strong Portuguese bias in the musicians.

Igreja, Lisbon

I wish I was coming with you!

Steve King's piece on Lisbon for Conde Nast Traveller describes the appeal of Lisbon really well, I think.
Nuno Mendes's Best Restaurant and Bars recommendations in Conde Nast Traveller.
You might also find the site Culinary Backstreets on Lisbon helpful.

Older postings of mine on Lisbon:
Lisbon highlights June 2017
Lisbon Autumn 2015