Gastronomy is a serious cultural activity for the Portuguese. Lisbon—Portugal’s capital and most cosmopolitan city—is buzzing with loads of dining options, so deciding where to eat can be a maddening affair. In an effort to help you…
I ate. I judged. I numbered. From Portuguese to Japanese to Indian, here are my 3 favorite places to dine out in Lisbon. Wow, I’m full!
photo by Tiago Salgado
1) Sacramento: Nestled in the Baixa Chiado area of Lisbon, Sacramento Bar and Lounge is an exquisite, modern restaurant and bar flaunting the marvelous cuisine and wines of Portugal. The exclusive menu offers a contemporary twist on traditional Portuguese dishes. Inspired by former Portuguese colonies in East Africa and India, the eclectic décor of the bar lounge showcases the vibrant hues and styles of the regions, helping the Portuguese and overseas visitors alike to reconnect with the Portugal of yesterday. While we waited to be seated, we waltzed over to the cornered-off bar lounge and started off the night with a flute of vintage Bollinger champagne. Once seated, I perused the menu for about 20 minutes and wavered between all the enticing dishes, before I could finally settle on Camarão Tigre com Arroz Selvage (tiger prawns with wild rice). And boy, did I make an excellent decision—the prawns were the biggest and best I have ever seen and tasted! Each prawn was slightly seared and doused in rich garlic-infused olive oil, lending a delicate caramel taste that was offset by the wild rice. For the ultimate Portuguese experience, pair the king-size prawns with a glass (or bottle) of homegrown vinho verde (green wine). My favorite is Palacio da Breijoeira 2005. And polish off your meal with a decadent dessert like lush white chocolate-covered strawberries or a divinely-moist chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. Food: stellar and satisfying. Service: efficient and attentive. Ambiance: warm and friendly. Wine List: exhaustive and world-class.
2) Estado Líquido: Located along the banks of the Tagus River (Rio Tejo) in the posh Santos area, Estado Líquido (liquid state) prides itself on being a trendy sushi lounge offering nothing but the finest and freshest fusion sushi concoctions. The kitchen is manned by a Brazilian-born sushi guru that made the transatlantic move just to bedazzle Lisbon-visitors with his mastery in the treatment of raw fish and the variations therein. The multi-story space is trimmed with modern décor in pure feng shui fashion, with low tables and benches on the upper deck, table-and-chair seating on the ground level, and a chic bar and dance floor in the basement. The highlight of the décor is the ground-level floor that has been converted into a spectacular fish tank sprawled across the entire dining area. As for the food, taste the chef’s culinary magic in the fusion rolls that beautifully combine the deep flavors of Portugal and Japan, and then head down to the bar/club that is open until the break of dawn to complete your night. But don’t forget the dessert—I recommend the chocolate mousse trio made up of milk chocolate/peanut butter, white chocolate, and dark chocolate flavors.
3) Casa de Goa: Tucked away in a winding back alley of Lisbon, Casa de Goa is an Indian restaurant serving all the mouthwatering specialties from the former Portuguese colony of Goa. I would recommend using a taxi equipped with a good GPS system because it is extremely hard to find. The Goan cuisine is heavily influenced by the coastline and tropical location, so you can expect loads of seafood, fresh dollops of coconut milk, and locally-grown rice as main ingredients. The Portuguese influence is largely evident in staple dishes like vindaloo—a rich, spicy pork curry made with a strong marinade of garlic and wine, and chamuças—fried pastry shells filled with minced meat, vegetables, and spices. Having been to Goa and having tried the authentic dishes, I would have to say my favorite Goan dishes are prawn curry—a fiery, coconut-based curry with large prawns, and xacuti—a thick, pasty curry made of dried chili peppers, spices, and white poppy seeds mixed with tender chunks of chicken or lamb. Word of caution: Goan dishes are usually very spicy, so ask the waiter to adjust the level of spice to your taste buds!
Hotels in Lisbon
Average Price: €37
Average Rating: 7.9
Hotel Residencial Portuense
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Average Rating: 8.3
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