Lisbon Part 3 - Where we ate and shopped
I'd heard mixed things about eating in Lisbon from friends and family who had already visited. Some were incredibly positive about the food on offer, others were less glowing in their praise of the eating options. With this in mind, we decided to plan quite carefully when it came to eating out, wanting to make the most of our limited time there to sample as much of the good as we could, and hopefully avoid disappointment. With Raoul's vegetarian dad in tow, we also decided not to stick religiously to Portugese food, which was actually really liberating, and meant that we ate very varied, and almost 100% delicious food during our stay.
One of our favourite spots to eat was the Time Out Mercado de Ribeira, a buzzy food hall showcasing the best of Portugese food and drink, right in the centre of town on Avenida 24 de Julho Lisbon, just opposite the waterfront. It is basically a collection of food stalls selling a wide range of delicious food, all under one roof. The cavernous building also houses a beautiful fruit, vegetable and fish market, and several fragrant and overflowing flower stalls. It is a great place to sample lots of traditional Portugese delights, but there are also lots of other options on offer, including Asian noodles, delicious gourmet burgers, pizzas, organic soups and salads and handmade ice cream. It is also a good place to pick up food related gifts to take home with you.
Other places we ate delicious food were:
- Cervejaria Ramiro - a brilliantly lively, busy and informal restaurant specialising in delicious fresh shellfish. We saw Rick Stein eat an amazing looking meal here in his recent programme and knew we had to make a trip. It can be hard to book a table but they have a very efficient queuing system and you can have a beer outside with a plate of jamon and cheese while you wait. We ate plates of sizzling hot garlicky prawns, sweet, juicy dressed crab and mountains of buttered bread until we were painfully full, but we also saw people eating steaming bowls of clams, fat lobsters, glistening oysters and huge steak sandwiches. This would also be a good place to try goose barnacles, if you're braver than us!
- India Gate - excellent Indian restaurant on the edge of the Alfama district. We had a really lovely meal here on our second night. The service was efficient and friendly and it was full of Lisboetas. The food was fresh and tasty and better than I've eaten in lots of Indian restaurants in London, with plenty of vegetarian options. It was also very good value!
- Casanova - simple and minimalist pizzeria on the waterfront near Santa Apolonia station. This place has a reputation for serving the best pizza in Lisbon, and I think it is well deserved. We ate blistering hot pizzas fresh from their wood fired ovens, in an interesting industrial space with a view of the busy kitchens. The staff were lovely, and we were surrounded by big tables of noisy Lisboetas getting their pizza fix. They also had really good deserts.
- Floresta de Belem - Basic and reasonably priced restaurant near the Belem monastery specialising in simple grilled meat and fish. This was a good lunch spot for our day in Belem; we sat outside and ate a meal of grilled fish and salad in the sunshine. Nothing to write home about particularly, but a good option and a very pleasant setting if you are in Belem and need somewhere for lunch.
- Cafe de Pois - We had an after dinner drink in this quirky and cosy cafe on the edge of the Alfama but they also have a tempting looking brunch and lunch menu full of freshly made salads, quiches, sandwiches and cakes.
- Princesa do Castelo - friendly little vegan cafe/restaurant near the castle in Alfama. We stopped here for a drink and snack but they had a more extensive menu with some unusual and delicious looking vegan curries, stews and salads, and a wide range of juices and smoothies.
- Manteigaria - A worthy contender for the best pastel de nata (custard tart) in Lisbon, we made several trips to their branch in the Mercado de Ribeira for the lightest, creamiest custard tarts I have ever tasted. Thin, flaky pastry, sweet soft filling, warm from the oven. These were beyond a doubt a highlight of our trip and incredibly addictive. Go!
I hadn't intended to do any shopping in Lisbon, but after asking for Lisbon recommendations on Instagram before our trip, lots of people mentioned a couple of interesting sounding shops that we decided to check out. We were limited by our hand luggage allowance (and budget!) but we did make a few lovely little purchases in various places around the city.
Our favourite spots for shopping were:
- A Vida Portugesa - A wonderful shop full of vintage style traditional Portugese homewares, beautifully packaged soaps and cosmetics, colourful tinned fish, traditionally made blankets, ceramics, embroidered linens and stationery. The perfect place to buy presents and souvenirs. They have two shops in the Chiado district near to eachother, one more focused on their homeware range than the other. We visited both and bought some traditional Portugese glasses, a handmade cotton blanket, some metal camping equipment and lots of pretty soaps. They also have a much smaller shop inside the Mercado da Ribeira.
- Ceramicas na Linha - Down a side street close to A Vida Portugesa, this ceramics shops sells beautiful plates, bowls, mugs and plant pots by the kilo. They have a huge range of lovely things in all sorts of different styles, and everything is very cheap. If I'd had more space in my suitcase I could have done some serious damage here!
- Conserveira de Lisboa - the place to buy Lisbon's famous tinned fish, this tiny traditionally decked out shop which has been selling tinned fish since the 1930s is lined from floor to ceiling with a huge range of tinned sardines, tuna and anchovies, all packaged in brightly coloured art deco packaging. It is a memorable place just to visit even if you don't like tinned fish! We bought lots as presents for people and each one was wrapped with careful attention in brown paper by the shopkeepers. A word of warning if you do buy some - don't carry them back in hand luggage as we did as you may get stopped at the airport and have them confiscated! We ended up having to post them back to the UK at significant cost!
That's the end of my Lisbon posts - sorry they have taken so long to get out! It's a wonderful city and I would love to return, perhaps with baby in tow!