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Jul 24, 2012 08:04 AM

Lisbon Porches/Algarves Restaurants

Arriving Lisbon Saturday. . located in the center of Lisbon close to Bairro Alto and the Chiado, Spending two days there. Any suggestions for lunch, dinners appreciated. Not too concerned with cost. Say--- 50 EUR pp for lunch and 125 EUR ish for dinner. Just want authentic food, preferably not too touristy. My first trip to Portugal so I am clueless.

Next stop will be in Porches in the Algarve. Staying at Vila Vita Parc, which i am told has a great restaurant. That leaves four other dinners and five lunches to consider! Seeking fresh seafood/shellfish, local faire. I am always wary of hotel concierges when i travel overseas steering me to restaurants that they reccommend not for the food but for the kickbacks they get from the restaurant owners.... Yes I am cynical.

Thanks in advance for you help.

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  1. For Lisbon, put a search on this board, plenty of information there (top right corner of this page).

    I know Villa Vita well, and teh concierges don't need kickbacks. The complex has 6 restaurants including a 2 Michelin stars, plus their own Wine Estate "Herdade dos Grous" near Beja in the Alentejo. I suggest you put the day trip to Grous on your list of must-do!
    Vila Joya near Albufeira is also a must (also 2 Michelin stars), but I personnally prefer it at lunchtime.
    For something more simple, look at the sea front of Armação de Pera (although in August I would avoid it...). Arte Nautica at the East end of the beach (also belongs to Vila Vita) is quiter and offers great simple food.
    Will you have a car?

    9 Replies
    1. re: monchique

      Thanks for your rersponse. Yes we will have a car. We are driving down to from LIsbon on Monday morning. We are staying 4 nights. I guess the Villa Vita is huge, in your opinion, would i not be better off eating in local establishments (other than their Ocean 2 star restaurants? We are open to any other suggestions you may have.

      1. re: steelydad

        While I have you, and monchique, you are clearly THE authority on all things Portugal on Chowhound, one more question. I am told the drive from Lisbon to Porches is 21/2 + hours. Is there any place you would recommend stopping to see for the scenery/ town for a cup of coffee?

        1. re: steelydad

          2 1/2 hours is correct, all on motorway and none of the motorway stops are particularly fascinating... The best one being near Grandola.
          If we stop at all, we would have lunch at the Pousada at Alcacer do Sal. The Pousada in Palmela is nice also, but very close to Lisbon (and we generally use the new bridge Vasco da Gama (East) instead of the old one, 25 de Abril (West).
          If you don't mind making a small detour, Beja is worth a short visit for the historical centre (again the Pousada). The other intersting towns in teh Alentejo are too far East (Estremoz and Evora especially, worth a proper visit).

        2. re: steelydad

          If you have a car, it makes it a different ballgame... Still would recomand an excursion to the Herdade dos Grous (the food teher is delicious, but from the Alentejo, not the Algarve), a lunch on the beach at Arte Nautica, plus dinner at "Ocean" (2*) and a lunch at "Vila Joya" (2*) if you can get a booking in those last 2.
          Some further ideas:
          "Rui's" in Silves is a must: a busy marisqueira and the best shellfish in the Algarve. Behind the market, open all day till late.
          Near Paderne, in Mem Moniz, North of Albufeira, "Veneza" for its superb wine cellar (one of the best in Portugal, sold at supermarket prices) and decent food. More of a road side café than a restaurant,,,
          Further afield, O Caniço in Prainha, Alvor and Mar a Vista in Sagres.
          Have a look at pages around 65 in Essential Algarve for an extensive list of the best restaurants in the Algarve (not automatically the most expensive).

          1. re: monchique

            Monchique, my wife and I took your advice and had lunch at Vila Joya yesterday. It rates as one of our favourite restaurants. It certainly has the finest setting/ location of any star restaurant in my view. The lunch menu at Euro 89 per person offers much value considering the 3 amuses and pre-dessert, which supplemented the 3 course menu. The starter of a savarin of hake was excellent, a very harmonious dish of local sea food produce that not only combined well together but was well executed. The ballotine of rabbit and foie gras was similarly well executed and tasty. Dessert was good but not great.

            Tonight we'll be heading to Henrique Leis and tommorow Sao Gabriel -so more updates to come. By the way, Amadeus has closed down permanently. They apparently had some financial challenges, and their closure is sorely missed by the local community.

            1. re: monchique

              Also, Veneza offers good local, Portuguese food; the rabbit was to die for and my wife enjoyed the simple, cooked pork with garlic and chilli. We were fortunate and pleased about the restaurant selling wines as we were looking for some specific producers as gifts for friends. There is very good variety compared to the wine shops even at Lisbon and Porto.

              1. re: blownd

                Glad you are enjoying your holiday. I would like to hear your feed back on both Sao Gabriel and Henrique Leis, as I have been disappointed by both the last time I went. Yes, Amadeus has closed. But there is also Willie's if you are touring the Michelin star.
                Try to make it to Rui's in Silves, you will enjoy it.
                And what about the "Ocean" in Vila Vita itself? Expensive but a lifetime experience...

                1. re: monchique

                  Monchique - sorry for the late reply! We had a great time at Henrique Leis ... however, similar to Vienna, times are tough. We were the only table on a weekday night. I hope that is not a sign of things to come as it would be a terrible shame.

                  We had the 4 course dinner set menu (for the whole table) which at 68 Euros is a steal compared to the prices of a 1* in the Netherlands - where we currently reside. This did not include the 3 amuses and the 1 pre-dessert. As my wife regretfully does not enjoy game,we had to swap the Guinea Fowl supreme stuffed with Foie Gras - too my dismay :) We replaced this with a beef steak in a port reduction and truffle sauce.

                  The highlight of the amuses was the beetroot macaroon with foie gras mousseline which was even better than the one we had at Vila Joya.. Starter was a Portuguese version of the Arpege egg - which I have heard of but have yet to try. This was very good and had an obscene amount of smoked imperial caviar! The 2nd course was lobster fromSagres and a risotto gel with truffle - my wife had died and gone to heaven. It was good - Period, and again an obscene amount of lobster! We each had a lobster tail! The main was where disappointment set in - the steak was well executed, the port reduction very good but the truffle sauce was to speak plainly bad - it was starchy and tasted similar to mushroon soup in a can. Presentation was poor, there was limited originality and harmony between the ingredients was out the door. Dessert was a panache of desserts - my wife claimed there was so much going on the plate that as a result nothing stood out. For me however, the highlight was a ginger sorbet with a meringue that made overcame my previous disappointment.

                  In summary, I feel that this was money well spent and would be glad to return to for dinner. However, I am uncertain if the service that was lavished, the extremely generous portions (including several complimentary pours of the wine) would be the norm as we were the only table. And to be fair, if we had stuck with the menu I am positive based on what I saw with the other dishes that dinner would have been an immense success. We had coffee and spoke with the chef briefly before departing.

                  I regret that we did not make it to Sao Gabriel due to a change of plans especially after our good experience at Henrique Leis. I am even more disappointed that the Michelin results were released during our stay! I would not have paid the dinner menu price for Ocean as a 1 * but as a 2* that price is well worth it.

                  1. re: blownd

                    Thank you blownd for the report on Henrique Leis. They have a cheap lunch menu that attracts a lot of people, but is no Michelin class. This is how they survive. Glad you enjoyed the dinner I might have another go soon!
                    The Ocean restaurant has had 2 Michelin * since last year, and I consider the quality higher than Vila Joya (comparing dinner as Ocean does not serve lunches). You will have to return!