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Lisbon in May - 6 lunches/6 dinners

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My wife and I will be visiting Lisbon, May 19-25 for the first time and are looking for some guidance. After poring over the forum over the past couple of months, I figure I have some semblance of an idea of what’s out there. Thanks in advance to the contributions of vinhotinto75 and Monchique…..your posts have been a tremendous resource.

We’re “foodies” (for lack of a better word), in our mid-forties and basically plan our travels around food and drink. Money is no object, but we aren’t looking for anything formal (i.e. Tavares). A nice mix of older, traditional Portuguese in humble/rustic surroundings and newer/modern versions of Portuguese cuisine, perhaps more upscale.

I have a list (of course). We’re looking at 6 dinners and 6 lunches and would appreciate any feedback. Additions/subtractions? Open Sunday lunch/dinner? Also, anything that might be better suited for lunch overr dinner or vice versa. Thanks.

Dinner

Largo
Solar dos Presuntos
Ibo
Ramiro
Faz Figura
Sao Bento
Clara Chiado
Tagide
560

Lunch

Granja Velha
Churrasco da Graca
Bonjardim
Barcabela
Esquina da Fe
Santo Antonio Alfama or Senhora Mae?
O Farol or Ponto Final?

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  1. @ BayouTeche

    This looks like a fine list, however I would perhaps offer these are some addtional suggestions:

    Restaurante Trempe (Lunch or Dinner)
    Charcutaria Francesa (Dinner)
    Estrela Morena (Now Serving Sunday "Brunch")
    Sinal Vermelho (Lunch or Dinner)

    As far as Sunday is concerned, if the weather is nice I would venture to Caçilhas by taking the quick 10 minute ferry from Cais do Sodré and eating lunch at O Farol or O Ponto Final. You could then have a simple dinner at Bonjardim (cheap) or Café São Bento (moderate) since they are both open on Sunday evenings.

    Another idea which I recommend to a lot of visitors is to perhaps take an early morning bus to Évora in the Alentejo region on Sunday and visit the town and have lunch. You could then return to Lisboa in the early evening and dine at Bonjardim or go to the Chafariz do Vinho. Just an idea...

    Of the places that you have listed above, most of them serve excellent food and have loyal local following. I would certainly try Trempe out of the other places that I suggested as the grilled foods and the ever so perfect chips are served.

    Please do not hesitate to ask if you have other questions or need additional suggestions!

    Sorte!

    17 Replies
    1. re: vinhotinto75

      Thanks! I think I may have confused Granja Velha with Sinal Vermelho. At any rate, the other places you mentioned are all on my "long" list....except Charcutaria Francesca. Could you offer some details?

      We definitely plan on going to Caçilhas. That'd be a great idea for Sunday. Do you have a preference between O Farol and O Ponto Final?

      We were hoping to include one or two day-trips....Cascais, Sintra and Evora. You'd definitely do Evora, then?

      1. re: BayouTeche

        @ Bayou

        All of the places (Sintra, Cascais, Évora) offer their charms, yet I suppose I am partial to Évora because it has stellar restaurants, wine, and other delicacies such as olive oil. Also, if you are into wine, the Comissão Vitivnícola Regional Alentejana organizes tasting and tours to some excellent vineyards throughout the province. Likewise, there are excellent restaurants in the town and some historic sites (UNESCO City) to visit.

        http://www.vinhosdoalentejo.pt/conten...

        As far as Charcutaria Francesa, they serve what they (and I) would consider refined or more upscale homestyle or "grandmom's" food in a very lovely ambience in a cool section of Lisboa.

        Here is their website:
        http://www.charcutaria-francesa.com/

        O Ponto Final is more expensive than O Farol which is simpler and right at the Ferry terminal in Caçilhas. You have to walk 10 minutes or so to get to O Ponto Final, yet if the weather is nice, the view is remarkable. You will have very good food in either place to be honest. The Brazilian restaurant right next to O Ponto Final, ATIRA-TE AO RIO, is also quite good.

        Please feel free to ask any more additional questions.

        Sorte!

        1. re: vinhotinto75

          Yes, I'm thinking Evora may be a good choice. It looks like the wine tasting room is not open on Sundays. I'm guessing a vineyard tour through the province may not be do-able in one day if we wanted to see the sights in Evora as well. Do you have a restaurant recommendation for lunch? O Fialho, perhaps?

          1. re: BayouTeche

            @ BayouTeche

            I like O Fialho, and although a classic, there are a few places that I like a bit more such as:

            Dom Joaquim
            O Antão
            Santo Humberto

            All of these serve traditional, yet modern twists of Comida Alentejana at its finest. Yes, if you go on Sunday the wine tasting center might not be open, however you can always taste great wines at ViniPortugal for free in Lisboa. They are located in the Praça do Comércio and are open Tuesday to Saturday. They feature three wine regions a month a you can try 4 wines at a tasting (generous pours in proper stemware) and you give feedback on the nose, color, label, price you would pay, etc. I highly recommend including it in a day (or two).

            http://www.viniportugal.pt/index.php?...

            As always, feel free to let me know if you have questions.

            Sorte!

            1. re: vinhotinto75

              And, of course I do have a few more questions.

              1. Any of these restaurants, that you or I have mentioned require any advance reservations prior to my arrival in Lisbon?

              2. When taking taxi's, are they generally readily available to flag down on the street, or do you need to call?

              3. The appetizers that are automatically brought out at some restaurants....from what I've heard, I'm assuming the price is usually not proffered. Are these worth partaking? Or do most people skip them?

              4. My first day in Lisbon (Thursday), I will be alone. My wife will be meeting me later in the evening. Are there any places you'd recommend for a lunch and dinner for someone eating alone? I'm thinking, casual, a little boisterous, good food & wine, on the more affordable side, maybe a bar to eat at (hate to take up a table just for myself).

              1. re: BayouTeche

                @ BayouTeche

                1. Taxi's are ubiquitous, plentiful, and more importantly, very cheap throughout Lisbon. You can be anywhere in the main parts of the city and be able to flag one (or ten) down.

                2. Reservations for some places such as Solar dos Presuntos, Ibo, Largo, Tágide, and other more upscale are suggested for a variety of reasons. While most places are now completely smoke-free, there still are some areas designated for smoking. If you are extremely allergic like me, I always want to make sure I will be as far away from smoke as possible. Also, some places like Solar dos Presuntos might get really busy on a Saturday, thus you reserve online and pick your room of choice. The same with Ibo and others.

                3. Bread, cheese, olives, paté, and other delicacies such as Rissois are called the couvert. Some restaurants charge a flat rate whether you eat one olive or everything that they offer on the table. Others however might just charge if you eat the bread but not the cheese, etc. If you don't want anything, you can simply tell them. Likewise, if you see that you are charged for something you didn't have, make it known so that they can remove it from the bill. It all depends on the type of place and your hunger-level. If I'm going to have a braised or stew dish, I might want bread. Sometimes I even save some of the cheese to finish with my wine instead of ordering a dessert.

                4. As far as a first lunch and dinner to eat alone, there are plenty of places (including the ones above). Do not fret about taking a table from somebody! In this economy here, most people are not eating out as much as usual and they will be glad to serve you. Also, aside from a few places, "eating at the bar'" is not very Portuguese.

                Thus, according to your desire to be in a lively place with good food and wine and moderately priced, I would suggest the following:

                Primeiro de Maio (Bairro Alto); Cheap and Cheerful with a lively staff that has a good wine list and simple Portuguese food.

                Trempe (Campo de Ourique) It won't be as lively or crowded (well it might at dinner) as Primeiro de Maio, but the food is excellent and the wines and food from Alentejo are excellent. Also very affordable.

                Gambrinus (Baixa) A Lisbon tradition and very old school. Here you could sit at the bar if you wanted to and delve into some classics. Aside from Gambrinus and Bonjardim this area is full of generally lackluster tourist traps.

                There are also some of the newer hip places like Assinatura, Bocca, and Clara Chiado that serve a cheaper lunch menu and of course have fantastic wine.

                I hope this helps and as always feel free to touch base with any more questions.

                Boa Sorte!

                1. re: vinhotinto75

                  Vinhotinto, you've been most helpful! Many thanks.

                  Cheers!

                  1. re: vinhotinto75

                    To Vinhotinto75: I have been reading all the great recommendations and knowledgeable insights you've provided to BayouTeche and I think you're just the person who can answer my question (I didn't want to start a new topic but, if you don't see this message, I'll post a new topic tomorrow).

                    I'll be in Lisbon for less than 48 hours and will have time for only one dinner by myself. I am a die-hard foodie who wants a truly unforgettable meal in Lisbon. I'll be staying on Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca and would like, if possible, to experience a really superb restaurant within walking distance, since I love walking in cities that I don't know well to get a feel for the place (unless, of course, it's dangerous to do so at night). However, I would be glad to take a taxi because the quality of food I'll be eating is far more important than the ability to walk to my dinner.

                    So, for the one dinner I'll have in Lisbon, which restaurants would you recommend? Would you mind suggesting 2 or 3 and, if possible, provide a brief description of the restaurant and the type of food it serves so that I'll be able to pick one that is to my liking. Thank you ever so much.

                    P.S. I am hoping that you'll see this message.

                    1. re: livetoeatalways

                      I am Spanish, but I like the flavors of Portuguese cuisine.

                      I spent last week in Lisbon and tried to go to the best restaurants in town.

                      My top 3 were: Assinatura, Panorama and Fortaleza do Guincho. In all I did the tasting menu

                      Assinatura
                      Portuguese flavor, excellent product, amazing taste. The menu is € 45, more pairing with wines 20€. Mainly portuguese I Think is very close to Rodrigu da Fonseca.

                      Panorama
                      Very nice view from the top of Sheraton Hotel. More international than portuguese cuisine. Very good. Mainly americans The menu was around 60€ plus wines. It´s close to rodrigo da Fonseca.

                      Fortaleza do Guincho
                      Top french cuisine very, very good. also more expensive (70€) plus very expensive wines. Away from the center of Lisbon (40km) by a very nice panoramic road (corniche) near the sea.

                      I also visited Alma, Largo and Solar dos Presuntos

                      If you read spanish you have a today article from a top spanish critic from ABC (one of the leading newspapers in spain)

                      http://www.abc.es/blogs/gastronomia/p...

                      1. re: aviseu

                        Aviseu:
                        Very interesting article from ABC confirming what I had heard about Tavares, with the exit of José Avillez. I am also told that Aimé Barroyer has now left, so that the restaurant is really in trouble. Pity, I thought the food and service were very good ( if you forgot the clientele...). I support the Sheraton "Panorama" and "Forteleza do Guincho" in the context of the article (i.e. haute cuisine), but as you say neither restaurant is particularly Portuguese... Have not been to assinatura yet, but will give it a try next time I am in Lisbon.

                      2. re: livetoeatalways

                        @ livetoeatalways

                        Assinatura is literally right around the corner from Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca and Avenida Alexandre Herculano. When Assinatura first opened I really like the space, food, and service, yet the last few meals I have eaten there have disappointed. I keep going back to try them, so you might want to give them a shot.

                        Otherwise, here are others that I suggest:

                        Solar dos Presuntos - Classic Northern Portuguese cuisine in a traditional, yet upscale vibe. Excellent wine list and varied menu.

                        Ibo Restaurante - Portuguese and Mozambican flavors here are shown in seafood, beef, game, and other dishes. Excellent wine list and a very lovely interior.

                        Largo - Super Food and a nice upscale interior in the heart of Chiado. The wine list and service is ideal.

                        Thus, based on where you are staying you might want to try Assinatura. If not Ibo and Largo are excellent, and Solar dos Presuntos never disappoints!

                        Boa Sorte!

                        1. re: vinhotinto75

                          Thanks to both aviseu and vinhotinto75 for your recommendations. Since this will be my "unforgettable" meal in Lisbon, I am looking for something that is authentic Portuguese (especially seafood dishes). Yes, it can have a modern and contemporary twist. In fact, that would be fine. But I don't want to be in Lisbon and visit a restaurant that serves cuisine from another country -- no matter how good it is.

                          Having said that, would both of you still recommend Assinatura? Or would one of your other recommendations rise to the top of your list?

                          1. re: livetoeatalways

                            @ livetoeatalways

                            Assinatura is authentic Portuguese, yet if you want something refined, yet a bit more traditional, I would suggest Solar dos Presuntos, Solar dos Nunes, or Ibo Restaurante.

                            Assinatura is also open for lunch, so maybe if you had time, you could go there for lunch and go to Solar dos Nunes or Solar dos Presuntos for dinner. Just an idea..

                            Sorte!

                            1. re: vinhotinto75

                              Vinhotinto75: I started a response to you but stopped to check my email and when I returned, I couldn't find my half-finished posting anymore. Never mind. What I wanted to say was that I am now very torn between Assinatura and Solar dos Presuntos. I have reviewed pages and pages of responses that you and others have posted on this board. And now I'm no longer sure which restaurant to pick for my one and only dinner in Lisbon because I've read glowing reviews of both restaurants (although you did mention that you were slightly disappointed with Assinatura on your last two visits). So here are a few follow-up questions to help me make up my mind: (1) Does one serve seafood better than the other? (2) Is one restaurant more upscale and the other more casual?(3) Is Solar dos Presuntos also within walking distance from where I'm staying (rua Rodrigo da Fonseca)?

                              If one of these two restaurants is fairly upscale, is there a dress code? I ask because I've noticed that in recent years restaurants in major European cities have become increasingly casual in their "dress code", that is to say, there is no dress code anymore.

                              How much should I tip for dinner? Any guidance would be helpful.

                              1. re: livetoeatalways

                                @ livetoeatalways

                                Solar dos Presuntos has an extremely varied menu and many more choices than Assinatura. Solar dos Presuntos also has tons of seafood, meat, game, and poultry dishes and is slightly cheaper than Assinatura. Likewise, Solar dos Presuntos has a gigantic wine list that is now given to you on an IPAD so that you can search by varietal, price, region, etc. Assinatura has a much smaller wine list and I haven't been too impressed with the selection.

                                Assinatura is much more intimate than Solar dos Presuntos which has several floors and dining rooms which you can see and pick while making your reservation online. Service at both places is excellent.

                                You could certainly walk to Solar dos Presuntos from where you are staying, however a short cab ride will either cost less than 5 Euro or you could take the Metro from Pombal and get off at Restauradores. What is the address on Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca?

                                I think you will have a great meal at either place, but if I were to take somebody visiting to Lisboa for the first time (which I often do), then I think I would take them to Solar dos Presuntos first.

                                Sorte!

                                1. re: vinhotinto75

                                  To be true and correct you must say that are two kitchens completely different (Solar and Assinatura).
                                  Solar dos Presuntos food is heavier, with more fat, with more carbohydrate (rice served with steak and chips), with the highest points of coccion, overcooked, as they have done for over thirty years and continue to do .
                                  I know that the Portuguese like this kind of traditional food, but the cuisine has evolved much over the past 20 years and the Solar dos Presuntos is faithful to its origins. Summarizing a less healthy cuisine.
                                  It is a pity that the taste of the Portuguese has not adapted to changing times and continue to prefer restaurants like Solar dos Presuntos.

                                  In Assinatura i chose the tasting menu with five dishes that is a good way to enjoy different flavors together with five different wines. Solar dos Presunto do not have these options.

                                  And the price was not much different, but the satisfaction that I took from Assinatura was much higher.

                                  And, for me, Panorama and Alma are also better than Solar dos Presunto

                  2. re: vinhotinto75

                    Dom Joaquim was a BIG disappointment.....mixed service, bad wine\food recommendations.....go to Santo Humberto or ...quarter to nine!

          2. vinhotinto75 -

            I'll be staying one night in Lapa before moving to Baixa. Lapa appears to be the only neighborhood I don't have any restaurants or bars on my list. Alma looks to be the closest. Anything in that area you can recommend?

            6 Replies
            1. re: BayouTeche

              @ BayouTeche

              Some ideas for Lapa might include Nariz do Vinho Tinto, yet other areas such as Campo de Ourique, Santos, and Alcântara are not far. Quite honestly, nothing is terribly far here in Lisboa (just hills)!

              But yes, Alma is not far either.

              Sorte!

              1. re: BayouTeche

                You can also look at
                XL soufles and good meat
                Travessa Belgian
                Café de S Bento only steak
                Confraria at York House "Modern" portuguese/french
                Umai Modern japonese

                1. re: aviseu

                  Thanks for everyone's help. I've started making reservations online where I could (Solar dos Presuntos). Do most places accept reservations via email?

                  1. re: BayouTeche

                    @ BayouTeche

                    Obviously since I live here I rarely make reservations via email. You can certainly try, but if you don't hear back, I would call (or have your hotel do it for you) just to confirm.

                    Boa Sorte!

                    1. re: vinhotinto75

                      Yeah, here in the States, I'd call, not email. Just thought I'd ask. I contacted our hotel, and they'll make them for me.

                      One more question....does Cervejaria Ramiro take reservations?

                      1. re: BayouTeche

                        @ BayouTeche

                        No - Cervejaria Ramiro does not take reservations at all. Sometimes, especially on Sundays, the line can be quite long, but well worth it if you like shellfish!

                        Boa Sorte!