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Eating and Drinking in Lisbon
Compiled by John Laidlar
Nevertheless, despite this rise of international cuisine, a dozen or so traditional Portuguese establishments remain in the street though these are now tending to clump towards the northern end of the street, near the Praça Figueira, where tourists are an ever increasing proportion of the clientele. Nevertheless, a number of the surviving restaurants are still frequented to varying degrees by local residents too. Pictured, left, is the interior of the Lagosta Vermelha restaurant, one of the best, but which sadly closed in 2007/08 to be replaced by one of the Indian-Italian set-ups. However its sister restaurant the Marisqueira Popular, whose advert is seen, right, does survive.
Since the advent of the Euro, prices have escalated but are still good value in UK terms, especially in 2012 when the Euro/£ exchange rate is favourable to visitors. In summer 2012, excellent three-course meals, including a bottle of house wine, could be had from the varied menus at most of the nearby restaurants at a cost of less than 15 Euros a head. Service is invariably quick and a wide variety of fresh fish and meat dishes is available, with a main course typically from 7 Euros upwards. Daily specials are also a feature of all the premises. Local fish to be recommended includes "cherne", "peixe-espada", "robalo" and "dourada". Amongst the restaurants to be recommended are the:
Don't be put off by the growing nuisance which plagues most of Lisbon's central restaurants if you choose to eat outdoors - "musicians" who "treat" you to the mixed pleasures of their music and then come and ask for money. Some are better than others - other itinerant salesmen prevalent throughout central Lisbon are those selling sunglasses, fake Rolex watches and flowers. Just say "no" if you don't want them.
Further north, near the Marquês de Pombal Metro station lies:
This is a really excellent spot for a sandwich or light meal, only a short work from the Baixa-Chiado metro station. Prices are a little higher than some places but you pay for the location. It is a small snack-bar, owned by A.S. Antunes Lda, on the corner of the Rua S. Nicolau and the Rua dos Correiros. Its interior is very small but it has numerous outside tables in the pedestrianised street. Particularly recommended are the range of cold/hot sandwiches, salads, fruit, soups and cakes. The "sande de leitão" (pork sandwich), melon (melão) and cakes are particular recommendations. A full range of drinks, including draught beer is available. Service is quick and extremely friendly. It may be e-mailed here. (Last sampled summer 2012).
Right: the price list in the Café Tropical, Almada. Some of the terms listed below can be seen on the image.
Lisbon restaurants offer a wide range of both meat and fish dishes, which are well- suited to the British palate as they are not normally spiced. The Portuguese term "bife" (beef) can be misleading as it is applied to any type of meat. Thus you will find on menus "bife de peru" or "bife de porco", meaning a turkey or pork steak, respectively. A "bitoque" is beef with an egg on top. "Frango a piri-piri" is chicken served in a generally fairly mild chilli sauce. "Borrego" is lamb, "Vitela" is veal and "Leitão" is roast suckling pig, often described as Leitão de Negrais (from Negrais, near Sintra).
Amongst the excellent local fish dishes is "cherne" (bream), robalo and dourada. Cod ("bacalhau") can be a bit of an experience, with "bacalhau à Brás" being popular- this is salt cod with potato, onion and egg. Soups are generally excellent, with the ubiquitous "sopa de legumes/ hortaliça" (vegetable soup), "canja" (chicken broth) and the northern speciality, "caldo verde" (a cabbage and potato soup with sausage) being recommended. Unless you like a rawish egg in your soup, "sopa alentejana" is to be avoided. Sweets include "mousse de chocolate" (chocolate mousse), "arroz doce" (rice pudding) and "pudim flan" (crème caramel). Sadly home-made versions of swets are giving way to commercial products in many restaurants. House wines ("vinho de casa") are generally very satisfactory and cheap (6 Euros was typical in 2008 i.e less than £5 a bottle) - though these prices are double those of five years earlier. Some other useful food and drink terms are:-
The Pingo Doce supermarket chain has recently opened small to moderately sized food-based supermarkets at the Metro stations of Santa Apolónia and Cais do Sodré. These are modern and well stocked and particularly useful as they have long hours. The Santa Apolónia shop, for example, stays open till 2300 hours. In central Lisbon there is a useful but small supermarket at the southern end of the Rua dos Correeiros, which is one of the roads parallel to the Rua Augusta in the Baixa district.
In Cascais, the Jumbo hypermarket lies just across the coast road (Estrada Marginal) from Cascais railway station and is open for long hours. It also stocks a good range of CDs and has an excellent newspaper shop. Even closer to the Cascais station is the new Cascais Villa complex which has fast-food outlets on its top floor and fashion, music and other shops on the lower floors. There is also a Jumbo at the Amoreiras shopping centre in north west Lisbon.
The Vasco da Gama shopping centre at Oriente also has a hypermarket (Continente) with an equally wide range of merchandise. The above-mentioned Rua dos Correeiros has a useful open-all-hours supermarket at its southern end, on the left as you face the south.
For a massive range of books, CDs, DVDS etc visit FNAC whose entrance is at the foot of the Rua Garrett, where it meets the Rua do Carmo and the Rua Nova de Almada and it is open late at night.