Our experiences of seeking vegetarian food in Lisbon... and seeking a couple of final suggestions!
Over the 10 days we've been in Lisbon and Sintra as vegetarian foodies, we've been using Chowhound recommendations (for which many thanks) supplemented with a pile of guides, and have had some interesting experiences. We're still looking for lunch and dinner recommendations today, and a really lovely and glamorous final lunch venue tomorrow - all suggestions most welcome! But for now, here's what we've had:
Very nice food and ambience, quite a few vegetarian options, friendly and efficient service. The only false note was the tacky butter in plastic containers. We both had pasta type things, which were very nice.
Altis Avenida (hotel restaurant)
We'd been planning to go to Tamarind (currently thinking of going today?), but finding it closed, we wandered around Baixa hunting without any success for a nice-looking restaurant with even one vegetarian option on the menu. After a full hour of frustrated wandering, in desperation we went up to the 7th floor restaurant of the Altis Avenida hotel. Two types of risotto were on offer for vegetarians (so I went for the mushroom risotto, whilst my partner the vegetable variety). Both were nice if not terribly remarkable. Service shockingly slow due to only two waiters for a busy and full restaurant. Food was nice, as was the wine and it was a relief not to have to resort to McDonalds! But due to the terrible service, I wouldn't recommend unless you find yourselves stuck.
Cafe de Paris, Sintra
The old historical centre in Sintra turns out not to be the best place to seek a Sintra restaurant (this seems to be up the hill, nearer to the station). But we chose Cafe de Paris for its location, and they produced mushroom tortelloni and an interesting goat's cheese and berry salad, both tasty.
G Spot, Sintra
Nothing vegetarian on the menu, but the very pleasant chef made us carrot soup, followed by mushroom risotto. Nice decor and ambience. Food also very tasty. Would recommend, despite its unfortunate name (G stands for gastronomy, I believe...). Though we were getting a little tired of all the mushrooms...
This is a vegetarian buffet restaurant, which is more glamorous than it sounds, with a great selection of nicely prepared food, and a very pretty outdoor terrace.
We'd been hesitant about going here because of all the chat about how many tourists go there (making me fear it would resemble a restaurant on Leicester Sq or similar) but this turned out to be one of the best meals we've had here. The chef had clearly given a fair amount of thought about what to give us and when we arrived the waiter suggested three savory courses. Since they didn't involve mushrooms and sounded pleasant we were happy to go with this. Each turned out to be fantastic: delicate flavours and generally it came across as a really well thought out meal. Though I'm not usually a fan of gold decor, the ambience was pleasant enough (if a little staid).
The excellence of Tavares meant that our expectations for Bocca were high. Wrongly so, as it turned out to be. We'd clarified when booking that we were vegetarian and had been told that this wouldn't be a problem. The menu, naturally, had nothing vegetarian on it, and when we asked the waiter what we could have, we were told that we could have potato soup (without the meat that it usually accompanies) plus mushroom risotto. In another restaurant this would have been fine. But because Bocca has a better reputation than this (and also because we were getting tired of mushroom risotto) we looked pensive and asked for time to discuss. As we were doing so, the manager came to our table. A nice enough chap, bringing with him a laminated piece of paper with directions to Terra. This rather put the lid on our willingness to stay, though he did also say that the kitchen could whip up some purees for us ("like a tasting menu")! Regretfully we decided to leave, and walked off headed to Tamarind. But before we could get there we passed Os Tibetanos...
Though not fans of vegetarian restaurants usually (they incline to the worthy!), we were tempted in because the ambience looked nice and, frankly, the vision of having something that wasn't mushroom risotto rather appealed. In fact, this turned out to be an error. Though there was lots of choice, the food really wasn't great (cheese balls for starters, which hadn't been microwaved properly, and thus had patches of still frozen cheese being a low point) and we also had the first poor wine that we've had since being here. (We cheered ourselves up with a low bill and a mohito at a pretty miradour afterwards).
Lisboa A Noite
The ambience and decor here was fab and it's clearly a great restaurant. Really cheery service (although it got a little less good as things got busier). The starters were great (delicious brie in pastry thing) and the main course (we both opted for tagliatelle rather than the ubiquitous mushroom risotto!) was fine, although I did rather feel it was something I could have made myself. Clearly a fantastic restaurant for the meat-eaters, and not a bad option for vegetarians...
My favourite so far (Tavares is my partner's favourite for the food). Great service, great views, lovely wine, and not a hint of mushroom risotto in sight! I had a fantastic, really tasty salad, as a starter, and my partner an excellent vegetable soup. Then on to the main course which was vegetable curry. Very delicate flavours and truly delicious. My partner had caramelised bananas for desert, which she loved, whilst I had berry cheesecake, which was really good (if a little big). Special mention / enthusiasm for the dips to accompany the bread at the beginning of the meal - really lovely.
So where should we go tonight (Tamarind is currently beckoning?) and where for a final lovely lunch tomorrow (we want a little champagne and glamour)?