EATS: Lisbon

No matter how near or far you are from home, a recommendation for a good restaurant or bar is always nice to have.  EATS is a collection of places that I’ve enjoyed during my travels.

Artis Wine Bar
Hands down my favorite dinner and drinks spot in Lisbon, Artis Bar is a small space with a small menu located in the Bairro Alto neighborhood.  But as the saying goes, good things come in small packages because Artis’ offering of delicious “petiscos” (the Portuguese take on tapas) hit the spot, especially when paired with a local wine.  The environment is casual and cozy, making Artis a great place to grab a bite or linger into the night.

Frango assado (roasted chicken) and other petiscos at Artis Bar

Artis Wine Bar, Rua do Diário de Notícias 95, +351 21 342 4795, facebook.com/ArtisWineBar  

Grapes & Bites
Also in the Bairro Alto, with Grapes & Bites the name says it all.  Cozy up to a wine barrel table and try one of the nearly 200 varieties of wine offered.  The bar also doubles as a store that sells wine and other gourmet products from around the region.

I couldn’t resist ordering a bottle of vinho verde, Portugal’s “green wine” not because of its color but because its “young” age.  The result is a wine that’s fresh, crisp and often slightly sparkling, and this variety actually accounts for the largest DOC of Portuguese wines.  Try a glass along with an assortment of meats, cheeses, fruit and nuts and relax as you enjoy the live music, which begins at 7pm nightly.

Grapes & Bites Wine House, Rua do Norte 81, +351 91 936 11 71, grapesandbites.com

Patio do Bairro Restaurante
When you step inside Patio do Bairro, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported outside, sitting on a Portuguese pátio.  This adorable restaurant oozes with charm, with murals adorning the walls that bring to life the intimate atmosphere of Lisbon’s old neighborhoods.  The menu is broad, offering a range of traditional fish and meat dishes.  You’ll eat and drink well at Patio, and feel as if you’re at “home”.

Patio do Bairro Restaurante, Rua da Atalaia 35, +351 21 343 1822, patiodobairro.com

Nosolo Italia
The day we arrived in Lisbon, weary, worn and jetlagged, we caved.  Not only did we break down for pizza, but we broke one of my biggest travel rules about seeking out local joints versus touristy spots.  However, there is something universally satisfying about pizza, especially after a long travel day.

Nosolo Italia is a Portuguese pizzeria and geletaria chain that’s been in business for 30 years.  The food was pretty good and I was pleasantly surprised that it was relatively affordable (2 people ate and drank for just under 30 euros) given its prime location on Praça do Comércio.

The view of the square and the waterfront was worth it, especially on a beautiful evening.  If you are looking for pizza and have a little more energy and ambition, I would also recommend you pay a visit to Pizzeria Casanova on the docks in the Alfama.

Nosolo Italia, Praça do Comércio – Ala Nascente, +351 21 887 3226, nosoloitalia.com

Pastéis de Belém
For a sweet treat, locals and tourists alike head west to the Belém district for the region’s trademark custard tarts.  Founded in 1837, Pastéis de Belém is credited as the birthplace of these pastel de nata tarts.  Their recipe is a closely guarded secret, rumored to be divulged to only 3 pastry chefs at a time.

The café turns out nearly 20,000 tarts a day, all hand-made on the premises and served fresh right out of the oven.  Brave the lines and you’ll be rewarded with a warm, crunchy tart that you can enjoy with as much powdered sugar or cinnamon as you like.  Read more about other sites in Belém here.

Pastel de nata in Belem

Pastéis de Belém, Rua de Belém 84-92, +351 21 363 7423, pasteisdebelem.pt

A Ginjinha
Throughout Lisbon you’ll see bars, cafes and even little stands on the street selling ginjinha (pronounced zheen-zheen-ya).  This cherry liquor is made by infusing sour cherries (ginja) in alcohol, and is a popular drink among locals.

A Ginjinha located off Rossio Square was the first establishment in Lisbon to commercialize the drink.  I had to try it for myself at its namesake place, which was a hole in the wall – literally – with crowds of people in line to do the same.  Order your shot with or without the cherry in the bottom, quickly drink it on the street and then push through the crowd once again to return your glass.  If you’re a fan of strong drinks chances are you will like ginjinha, but if you don’t it’s still worth a try at least once.

A Ginjinha, Largo São Domingos 8, no phone number or website 

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3 comments

  1. Note: The current “Pastéis de Belém Confectionery” is not the birthplace of the “pastéis de belém”, the nearby Yeronimites Monastery was. As the Religious Orders were banned in Portugal in 1834 the monastery was closed and the monks sold the recipe to the owner of a sugar refinery nearby who would end up opening a pastry shop to sell them in 1837 – the currently known “Confeitaria dos Pastéis de Belém” which also owns the exclusivity of the denomination “Pastéis de Belém”. Very similar pastries are common all over the country (and elsewere) but they’re named “pastéis de nata” (cream custard tarts)…
    A personal note: I like much better a good “pastel de nata” than a “pastel the belém”.

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