Three posts to cover seven days in Lisbon, a city that attracts the description of gritty charm. Sometimes the charm wins and at other times It’s the grit. This post is Part 2 of instances where the charm bubbled to the surface. Specifically, these are examples of food focussed charm eclipsing the grit:
1. Eating with the Nuns:
We took a tour the first day we arrived, EatDrinkWalk Tapas Tour. It was brilliant. For four hours we were taken to different restaurants and bars and given things to eat and drink. One of the places the guide would have liked to take us was closed. We came back two days later when it was open. There is an anonymous door. On the door is an anonymous yellow sign. Behind the door are three sets of anonymous stairs. At the top is a canteen and a deck with views over Lisbon!!!!!!! It is the Nuns canteen. They prepare the food and you go stand with a tray and they give you what you ask for. The menu of the day is AUD 4.5 for three courses (drinks extra). We went berserk and ordered a la carte and spent AUD 9 each (including drinks). Fabulously quirky and great views.
2. The Palacio Chiado:
The building is incredible. Restored and repurposed by being filled with six restaurants that run from a common credit card that you receive when you walk in the door. The idea is that you eat and drink where you want and pay as you leave the building. We dined at the Sushi/Sashimi place at the top which is very stylish and has no truck with the common payment system of the others. The walk up the stairs and the restaurant ceiling are impressive affairs (so too the food).
3. The Pasteis de Nata:
Each shop that makes Pasteis or Pastel de Nata in Lisbon claims that its pastries are the best/oldest/most traditional. We travelled twenty minutes west of Lisbon to Belem where legend states that custard pastries were first made. We purchased four of them from the bakery that a Lisbon expert told us was her favourite place. We went across to the park and ate them sat on the grass.
The shop was not actually such a secret. The first time we visited Belem around 200 people were queuing outside for Pasteis. The second time maybe only 50, so we waited. They were very good and only Euro 1.10 each.
4. Good coffee:
We enjoy good coffee and TripAdvisor focussed us quickly on the three best. Fabrica, Copenhagen Lab and Bettina & Niccolo Corallo. All had flat whites on the board and roasted their own beans. Copenhagen Lab delivered coffee that was consistently the best but it was such a boring place and service was soooo slow. I declared Fabrica my favourite and we visited it most often. Bettina etc has the great advantage that they also create a range of artisan chocolates and you get one example free (as you choose) with each cup of coffee. They also had the lovely bright lime Marzocco.
5. Our local:
We walked past this cafe every day at least twice. It is on Calcada do Combro street near Elevador da Bica. Every time we passed it was busy. Eventually we decided we had to give it a try. We ordered two local favourites, a steak sandwich for Alex and a pork sandwich for me, with two sparkling waters. There was lots of meat, lovely and moist and filling. When we got to the counter we understood the popularity, AUD 10 for us both. Great value, and there are many of their like all over the city.
6. Mercado da Ribeira:
Time Out magazine assisted the failing Mercado da Ribeira by reinventing half of it as a location for restaurants anchored around five high profile chefs. The high profile chefs arrived. The customers followed, they keep coming, and it’s a great success.
7. Choose a tin, any tin:
In this restaurant the protein they serve is fish and that fish comes from a tin!!!! Only in Lisbon, where canning has a fine tradition.