A report on eating during our 10 days in Lisbon this Spring, our first visit. Rented an apartment, did some cooking and mostly ate in for lunch. We went to couple of places recommended on this board plus a few others:
Super Mario: small (about 10 tables), bare bone, bright lights with a TV on. We dropped in at 9pm on a weekday and it was about two-third full. Short menu of mostly grilled items. Two of us each ordered a main plate: grilled swordfish and grilled sardines. Both came with the ubiquitous steamed potato and tomato-lettuce garnish. The fish were fresh though the swordfish was cooked past well done. The total cost with a beer and mineral water came to 16 euros. It was a bargain meal but from later experience, would rather spend a few euros more for better eating.
Ramiro: no reservations taken; arrived 7pm on a weeknight where there were already more than 30 people in line. Because of the large double store front and inside mirrors, the restaurant look much bigger than it really is and the turnover was slower than we anticipated. Finally seated after 1 1/2 hours. The best seafood were priced by weight. For two of us, order some jamon Iberico to start, then 300 gram of large red shrimp and a whole roasted crab. The shrimp were simply grilled basted with garlic and olive oil. The shrimps were, sweet, firm with lots of flavor from sucking on the heads. The crab was fat, meaty with a good amount of coral. An excellent messy meal for 75 euros including two beer and mineral water. The service was friendly, prompt and no frill. There are many similar cervejaria in Lisbon, therefore, will try one with less of a wait the next time.
Assinatura: recommended often on this board for 'high-end' dining. We were seated in a large dining room with high ceiling and muted painted walls. A big mural of the Lisbon main cathedral and colorful (very comfortable) chairs gave the room a warm feel. We took the 50 euro 5 course tasting menu. There food is a mixed of Portuguese and Mediterranean and beyond. Standouts were foie gras with pickled vegetables, a crab salad with apples, baked rice with shellfish and beautifully cooked rib of suckling pig, crispy skin and meltingly tender meat. Dessert was a layer of custards in different flavors. The staff was friendly and took time to explain each dish. Total was 115 euros Including 2 glasses of wine and mineral water.
Couple of places recommended by a Lisbon friend:
Principe do Calhariz: this is what I imagine as a typical Portuguese restaurant in Lisbon; the large dining room is full both times we ate there. Table turnover is fast so waiting in line shouldn't be a problem. The large menu has many seafood and meat choices and mostly came out of the grill in the front where one can see through the restaurant window. There is a sheet of daily items in front of a standard menu. Two of us ordered the grilled chicken Mozambique, grilled squid, grilled pork cutlet. Their most popular dish (the other is large grilled shrimp on a long skewer served ceremonially on a stand), the grilled flattened half chicken was nicely charred and basted with a piri piri sauce. The breast meat was a bit dry but it didn't prevent us from devouring every bits of it. Two big squid was tender and had a nice smoky flavor. The pork cutlet had a slice of jamon on each which helped the bland pork. Came with a plate of thick French fries and nicely sauteed of mixed vegetables to share. It was more food than we can eat but managed to finished all. Total with one beer, bottle water and two rolls came to 25 euros. Did not eat the pate or olives that were placed on the table. Service was friendly, no frill and a little brusque with tables packed very closely together.
We returned on a Sunday night (many restaurants were closed) after a beach day Caccais. It was also convenient being only a couple blocks from our rented apartment. The Sunday night daily menu sheet had many more choices that wasn't available during our weeknight visit. We ordered the bacala a bras, roasted cuttlefish and roast lamb. The bacala was a huge portion of slightly salty cod pieces cooked with potato and scrambled eggs. Tasty but we could finish only half of it. The cuttlefish was roasted in a very hot oven that gave them a smokey bitter brininess with a slight chew. The slices roasted lamb was very tender served with juice from the roasting pan flavored with a little tomato paste. All simple and very tasty. The meal came with steamed potatoes and same sauteed vegetables. Cost was about the as our previous meal. Again it was too much food for us but given that there were so many tempting choices and moderate prices, we couldn't help it. We like this place very much, lively with good food.
100 Maneiras: this was the other modern Portuguese that we ate at. This small restaurant hidden on the upper Bairro Alto has low ceiling, painted white walls with blue trim. giving it a feel of a ship galley. There is a small bar on one wall where all the plating were done. We took the 10 course tasting menu. Standouts were raw scallops with citrus; octopus carpaccio with gingerbread crumb; duck breast, duck confit and foie gras with parsnip puree; swordfish with a suave piri piri sauce; red wine braise veal cheek with apple risotto, a dessert of mango and passion fruit soup. Though couple of courses didn't work including a dessert, we would have like couple of the courses to be larger so that we can taste all the ingredients, ie the scallop, the duck and the dessert. All in all an very good meal, different from Assinutura, lighter and more inventive. The two tasting menus with cover charge, two glasses of wine and mineral water came to 120 euros.
There are pastelarias everywhere. In general, we found the rustic Portuguese pastries a little too sweet and one dimensional. Same with the ice creams. We love the sweet Portuguese breads and oversize croissants for breakfast. One can find pastel de nata in every pastelaria and cafe but we found the custard to be too sweet, heavy and baked too long ago. We like those at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem because they were lighter and freshly baked. Don't worry about the crowd including loads of tour buses; they can accommodate hundreds promptly in the series of rooms in the back where one can watch the production kitchen. The line for take out moves fast and one can also eat stand up at the small bar. They have the operation down pat, quite a scene.
Thank you for the report. Glad that 100 Maneiras and Assinatura both lived to the expectations!
A new restaurant just opening in Lisbon which might be interesting for future reference is "Chefe Cordeiro" at 20, Praça do Comercio. José Cordeiro is the Chef at the "Feitoria" in the hotel Altis Belem where he has a Michelin star, so his own restaurant should be quite good.
Thank you for the recommendation of Chefe Cordeiro. We really enjoyed our visit to Lisbon. Planning to return for another week next Spring, therefore, we'll check out the restaurant. Interesting that it is located on the Praco do Comercio. We found that area pretty quiet in the evening. Maybe it is because that area is going through a lot of renovation.
I second the recommendation to bookmark Lisbon Lux, for reasons beyond food as well.
I also found that I preferred almost all baked goods other than pastel de nata.
But I found it a mixed bag when it came to spending more euros for better eating. A few of my super cheap Lisbon meals were actually better and more delightful by miles than some of the meals I paid more for, but not always. Price was really never the issue, and money seemed to be (at least for my trip) no predictor one way or the other of whether I was going to like my dining experience.
I also hope to return to Lisbon and other parts of Portugal. I really enjoyed the food and wine, and I can't think of a single place where I ate that I wasn't treated wonderfully by staff and owners despite my not being able to speak or much understand Portuguese.