Lisbon has emerged as having one of the most exciting dining scenes in Europe. There’s an abundance of cool restaurants, and I’m proud to say that despite having a baby in tow we managed to eat at some of them during our time there in October.
(We also could have subsisted on pasteis de nata from Casa Brasileira on Rua Augusta and Santini’s gelato the whole time, but fortunately that wasn’t necessary.) Honestly, eating at good restaurants is not that hard in Lisbon because there are so many.
On our first night in Lisbon, a Saturday night in October, we wandered around jet-lagged and stumbled upon Cafe No Chiado, which later we learned was highly recommended by our guidebook, Time Out Lisbon. Set in the National Centre of Culture in the chic Chiado district, Cafe No Chiado known for attracting a literary clientele. And sure enough, the people sitting next to us were authors who were exchanging books. The inside has a coffee-house vibe, full of newspapers, magazines and brightly colored walls. We preferred the lively atmosphere outside, which is where we sat and enjoyed risotto and pesto pasta. Funny enough, those two dishes were staples on most of the Lisbon menus we saw.
Our second night in Lisbon was a Sunday, and most restaurants are closed on Sunday nights. But we were determined to go somewhere good and chose a place in Barrio Alto after doing some web research. However, Barrio Alto turned out to be a longer walk than we bargained for from our apartment in the Mouraria district. We were very happy when we stumbled upon Sea Me — Peixaria Moderna on our way there. This fun, modern fish house was bustling on a Sunday night, even though the DJ booth was empty. The menu has a Japanese influence, and we started with almond-encrusted shrimp tempura. Then I had some creative sushi rolls, while my husband had a whole grilled sole, one of the fresh choices of the day.
Our third night was an anomaly: we had a reservation! Yes, on Saturday night when we were wandering around jet-lagged we found Largo (pictured top) and the wait was too long so we made a reservation for Monday night. The decor is awesome, especially the jellyfish tanks that turned different colors. There’s a €29 two-course prix-fixe menu available so I started with goat cheese in filo pastry with honey and tomato and my entree was a modern twist on a Portugese classic: risotto with cod, carmelized onions and port wine jam. My husband started with tagliolini with lobster and then had steak. Oh, and just like at all the other restaurants, we found that Portugese wine was the perfect accompaniment.
Our last night in Lisbon, we didn’t go out for dinner. We had taken a day tip to Cascais and we were too tired to go out again. So we got take-out at Verde Perto, a little gem we had discovered just a few blocks away, between our apartment and Castelo de Sao Jorge. Not only is Verde Perto a cool little gallery/cafe that sells jewelry and art, but its salads, sandwiches and crepes are delicious. We stopped there for lunch after our trip to Castelo de Sao Jorge, and then had lunch there the next day before setting out to Cascais. Had we stayed in Lisbon longer, we probably would have eaten at our neighborhood spot even more times.