Sister and I were in Lisbon from 5/6-5/14, with overnights in Barcelona on either end. We adore BCN, but it left us only 5 full days in Lisbon, a city she’d never been to. I was there in 2016 for 3 weeks, and it has changed a lot. More expensive (like everything), more crowded, much more built up. But still, a fabulously beautiful city with people who aren’t yet the least bit grouchy about all tourists. Everyone was super friendly. We did a LOT of eating, but also managed to fit in museum, Belem, Sintra, fado performances, etc., in between. Here goes - get ready to get full…
first night in Barcelona, Xampanyet was closed so we went right across the way to Tapeo del Born for a very early pre-dinner snack.
FRIED ANCHOVIES, LEMON ZEST
“BROKEN EGGS” WITH MUSHROOMS - this vied for best bite of the trip for a good portion of the time we were there!
Pulpo on a bed of the creamiest garbanzo mash I’ve ever had. dreamy.
We went to Paradiso, voted the Best of the 50 Best Bars in the World for a few years running now. The drinks were really good, lots of theater, but the food (also tapas) were out of this world. Everything was smoked, but delicately so.
Anchovy toast and I can’t remember what the creamy thing on top was!
the Gilda - of San Sebastian fame - but smoked. Amazing. There was one other thing but I can’t remember what it was now and i guess i forgot a pic.
Dinner much later was at a random place we found in the Born (where we were staying
looks a mess but really tasty - i love butifarra! with mushrooms and artichoke hearts
Nice light tuna crudo…
and my favorite tapa of all time, pan con tomate!
the next morning, we went to La Boqueria! As one must.
fresh oysters and uni from a fishmonger for bfast - i’ve never had uni so fresh! the oysters were obscenely humongous, and sweet/salty. Good morning!
The fishmonger bruleed the navajas right in front of us. Astonishingly good.
we shared some chistorra and a slice each of tortilla de patata
they nuked this in the microwave and it was still gooey inside and fantastic.
And before our flight to Lisbon, we had lunch at Quimet & Quimet, an old favorite:
White asparagus, sardine, sweetened/grated egg yolk
More broken eggs, this time with foie and sweet potato chips. Another best bite of the trip. Because, foie.
Prawn, red pepper, honey, caviar on a rusk (montaditos - “mounteds” little things on bread.)
Cod, baby favas, sundried tomatoes
Leeks with caviar, red pepper, over soft cheese
Their signature dish: salmon with truffled honey, yogurt, balsamico. A must have!
Quimet and Quimet will always be a must do.
Our first night in Lisbon, we headed up to the rooftop restaurant/bar of our airbnb - Java - and had a cocktail, then to the Timeout Market right next door to us, which was a super shitshow even on a Sunday night. Took us forever to find a seat, but we got food from the Henrique Sa Pessoa kitchen (which was my favorite last time I was here).
Porchetta and bacalao with veggies. both were excellent!
The next morning for bfast (and every day single thereafter), we each had a pastel de nata at the Manteigaria located in the Time Out Market. Even when the rest of the market is closed, the Manteigaria’s street-side cafe opens early.
if i could eat one a day for the rest of my life, i would.
we also stopped at a little cafe in the Bairo Alto neighborhood a bit later to grab a couple of croquetas.
This was a really simple, unfussy cafe on a corner right on the Praça Luís de Camões, sorry i didn’t get the name, where you order at the counter and eat right there or at one of the small tables inside or outside. But the last time i was here, their croquetas made me love croquetas for the first time - the Portuguese ones, that don’t have bechamel inside them, as opposed to the Spanish ones that do. Made a convert of my sister too.
We went to Belém to try to go the gorgeous Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (another shitshow - we didn’t go in, instead went to the fantastic modern art Berardo Collection Museum next door) and had oysters right in the plaza of the Padrao dos Descobrimentos.
Cocktails at the kiosk in the Luís de Camões plaza as we waited for our late lunch rez at Taberna da Rua das Flores, recommended by a friend who had been living in Lisbon for the past 5 years.
A fantastic starter of croquetas made of tapioca flour and cheese with a little spicy/sweet chili jam on top. OMG.
The açôrda I’d had before was always a clear broth (water) with just olive oil, cilantro, bread, and a poached egg. This was a prawn broth - super prawny! - and a lot of bread, so it became almost porridge-like. Both delicious in their own right.
Beef in a coffee sauce with house-made chips. Tender and tasty!
We kind of accidentally ate at Sea Me in Barrio Alto (long story) and were thrilled with how wonderful it was, but it was $$$ - the most expensive meal we had the entire trip and by a lot.
squid ink butter, olive oil and salt, crab butter, for the bread they always give you in Lisbon, and for which you have to pay if you eat it. we ate it!
We shared scallops - love that they serve the roe, as in France.
squid ink tempuraed cod - delightfully light and airy.
My sister’s giant prawn in a Sauce Portuguese - lots of butter, garlic and wine. Scrumptious. We picked these bugs from the seafood counter at the back of the restaurant - i think they were the giant prawns, or maybe the ruby ones… They were super fresh and perfectly cooked. We ended up getting another one of these to share.
Same for me, just grilled without sauce. Perfect.
A friend from a FB food group recommended A Cevicheria, and though we normally don’t like to eat cuisine from another country when traveling, we love Peruvian ceviche.
we were 2nd at the door when they opened for lunch. such a gorgeous space!
Tacos??! Yes! super crispy shells, utterly crunchy, with a wonderful beef tartare and ikura.
Causa is a dish we are very familiar with, but this was nothing like one we’d ever had. the potato is the black part, mashed potatoes with squid ink, but didn’t taste like potato at all. Topped with cod, prawn, eel. Very good, though unexpected texture.
Best dish, hands down! Tuna and beets and raspberries and hazelnuts with rice crackers, and the yellow shavings are foie. Don’t ask me how, but it all worked. So many wonderful textures, with the foie just adding a little bit of fat. Divine.
Gorgeous dessert, actually nice and light, not too sweet. delicate, flaky, millefeuille with white chocolate, passion fruit, tonka bean ice cream. A very nice finish.
My sister found a place for us to hear fado music and on the same street there was this restaurant and they had a table for us. Duque da Rua:
We split the clams in a lemon/garlic/cilantro broth. Excellent. They use a lot more cilantro here in dishes where you’d expect parsely, and i approve!
My tomato rice with seafood - also a winner, if too much - had to leave most of the rice behind. Tomato rice is a thing here, and should be elsewhere. Savory, a little tart, homey, and excellent, abundant seafood.
My sister’s lamb chops - one of the few non-seafood dishes we ordered - and garlic rice. The chops were very tasty if a little tough. She loved her garlic rice.
(The fado show was fantastic - more like an an open mike; fado singers/players appear whenever they want and perform. the club charges nothing, just what you eat and drink. Called Duque da Rua Fado Bar and Tapas. We went back a 2nd night. We had an unremarkable cheese plate, which we ordered just to support the club.)
After our trip to Sintra, we had a late lunch. I was craving grilled sardines, so i found this place - Tu e Eu in the Alfama:
a tiny hole in the wall, with outdoor seating on the downslope of a hill, we sat in the very hot sun until the server took pity on me and moved us to a table with an umbrella. These clams were fantastic.
My sister got the pica pau pork - chunks of pork fried and in a beer gravy. Super tender, really good!
my sardines - what they’re known for, with simple boiled potatoes. exactly what I wanted.
Prado was supposed to be our big splurge meal in Lisbon but Sea Me took care of that. . We opted for the tasting menu - a very good deal.
Housemade sourdough with Alentejana pork fat, garlic, and paprika. I mean, how can you go wrong with pork fat! the bread was good but didn’t wow us as much as we’d heard.
Oxtail tartare and shiitakes in charred cabbage. There was a little funk to this, pleasantly so.
fucking yum bites. sardine topped with lardo parsely toast - the sardine’s brine cut through the luscious lardo. The quail egg was such a surprise, it popped in your mouth and I’d never had marron - a kind of shellfish. Both were just phenomenal.
I can’t remember what the broth was, but it verged on being too salty. With cockles, chard, coriander and fried bread - could have used a little more fried bread for texture. Still, cockles…
To die for. white asparagus, smoked roe, and amaranth. so many great textures! a lovely, smokey dish.
maybe my favorite dish of the night… Hake in a spinach puree - so green! with mussel confit and superbly crisp/fresh asparagus.
Alentejano pork was super tender, rare, with creamed turnips and turnip tops. i was on the verge of being too full, so I didn’t love this as much as my sister did.
We also had dessert but i forgot the pic - brioche with coffee gelato and madeira. I loved it, but now my sister was too full to enjoy!
we went back to Belém to go to another museum (MAAT - Museum of Art, Architecture, & Technology) and ate at the museum restaurant afterwards. (Maat Cafe Kitchen) The museum has a cafeteria with simpler offerings, and a full restaurant. We opted for the restaurant and just did three starters. The restaurant is quite a bit pricier, but so worth it, especially if you just do starters.
Another take on the Spanish broken eggs - with truffled fries, jamon iberico, and eggs. Oh so good… I thought we wouldn’t finish it but no worries there…
A parm regg custard with more jamon, parm frico, and a poached egg. Yeah, we ate a lot of eggs.
More Peruvian-style ceviche. A good, fresh ending to lunch!
Our lunchtime view.
Next, Cevejaria Ramiro! You have to go at least once if you go to Lisbon, it’s the law.
Maybe the best clams of the whole trip.
Navajas - can’t get enough, since we can rarely get them in CA.
We ate a ton of their bread - those buttery little toasts - to sop up all the good, garlicky broth!
Lagosta (rock lobster) - beautiful! so sweet…
we drink a lot of bubbles when we travel - cava and espumante is so much cheaper here than in the States.
We’d stumbled upon a small food fair in the Praca do Comercio, so that was breakfast one morning (after pasteis de nata, of course.)
my sister got a ceviche in leite de tigre - refreshing on a hot day
I got a chouriço plate, but couldn’t finish it all.
Our last meal in Lisbon, and my sister’s birthday lunch at Marisqueira Azul, after we went up the Arco de Augusta da Praça do Comercio (the best mirador en Lisbon, in our opinion - but be prepared to walk up 74 stairs!):
yeah, we don’t fuck around. All impeccably fresh, and a steal compared to what we would have paid for this in the States.
Also, a badly needed salad. Spain and Portugal just don’t do a ton of salads! This was simple as could be - tomatoes, olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano - but just what i was craving.
Off to Barcelona again!
My sister’s bday dinner was at Dos Pebrots, a tasting menu again - and again, very reasonably priced for what we got.
OMG OMG OMG i haven’t had alcachofas judeas since Rome about 18 years ago, and these were even better. Super crispy, and laced with garum - which only gave it a slight umami flavor, very subtle
Holy crap - tuna crudo with bits of pork fat and almond, on pan de coca.
White asparagus, jamon iberico in an orange-infused olive oil. simple and amazing - that olive oil! so delicate.
super interesting! raw mushrooms, a poached egg, chicken garum (they make it inhouse). you get the flavor of the mushrooms first, you know, raw mushrooms, then the texture of the egg, and then the umami-laced chicken garum. as I ate my way down I liked this dish more and more.
Bagna freda - aioli, with tiny, ridiculously fresh veggies
maybe my favorite dish of the night - pillowy potato gnocchi, in a potato skin reduction (!!!), with shrooms and the “center of the burrata” for extra lovely tenderness. insanely good.
Squid carpaccio with pimenton and olive oil. Light and lovely.
Beef kofte with ultra thin pita so it wasn’t too filling, assembled table-side. the beef wasn’t heavily spiced either, and very tender.
Rare iberico pork with red peppers and housemade bao
I fell in love with Iberico pork (as opposed to jamon) on a trip to BCN in 2019 at Xampanyet - like the most tender, juicy steak ever, but pork. This was that, encased in a fluffy bao. Wow.
Then we had TWO desserts:
goat yogurt with honey and fresh herbs. a light palate cleanser. we probably could have/should have ended it here…
But this carob cake, slightly bitter, with a strawberry marmalade (intensely strawberry-ish!) and Jerez, was fabulous. My sister was too full to enjoy this, sadly…
Overall, this may have been my favorite restaurant of the trip, in a trip full of amazing food.
Our final final meal in BCN, breakfast near our airbnb, near Las Ramblas…
a last tortilla de patata, and also an “English” bfast that I couldn’t make a dent in. Butifarra with white beans in a pesto sauce? aioli, poached egg, and the last pan con tomate.
So yeah, we ate our way through Lisbon (and a litle of Barcelona!) but we walked tons and i was thrilled to find that my scale was actually happy to see me when i got back!
Thanks for reading if you made it through this far!