Lisa Does Lisbon
I love this city! It was my second visit to Lisboa, and with 5 years of catering and foodie appreciation behind me, it was a much different experience than the last trip where I spent most of my time slurping down XXXL Mojitos on the streets of Bairro Alto. They did serve their purpose, but this time I was there to EAT and hunt for the best delicacies the city has to offer. To avoid getting carried away I’ve whittled it down to my three favourite things.
Starting with the famous...
Pastel de Natas at Manteigaria
You can’t walk a few meters down the streets without seeing a group of tourists munching on these custard pastry puffs of heaven. My boyfriend introduced me to them on our first trip and I thought they were OK, but this time my obsession grew legs. Literally! I would wake up early every morning and run to find the best pastels in town. The earlier you go the fresher they are, and I love seeing the streets busy with locals at 9am in the morning (before the swarms of tourists emerge).
The pastel hunt was trial and error… you’ll be surprised at how much they vary, but after 4 attempts I found pastel perfection. At Manteigaria they’re warm straight out of the oven with crunchy pastry and perfectly spiced custard filling. They have the texture spot on. Absolute pastry heaven!
Salt fish cod at Sal Grosso
You can find a version of this dish in most restaurants however nothing beats the way Taberna Sal Grosso prepares it. After checking out the crazy street art and ‘Thieves Market’, a very cool flea market where you find all sorts of treasures if you have the patience, and if you’re not hungry (I recommend having lunch first!), we came across this tiny little taberna hidden on a street corner with no outdoor seating. All we could hear was the noise of happy people chatting from a small busy room, and a few others waiting to be seated. Naturally we wanted to know what all the fuss was about so we joined the queue.
I love going in blind to a restaurant… just let the locals lead you! Thankfully we were far from disappointed. There were a number of fantastic dishes on this menu, but the salted cod is one that stands out. They deep fry corn bread and mix it with pinto beans and cabbage, then stack slices of salted cod on top. This doesn’t sound very appealing but once you dive into the crispy bites of corn bread mixed with salted cabbage and cod your mouth is left humming with delight. My boyfriend and I were both shocked by the outcome and labeled it the best dish of the weekend. A bold and brave title for something that looks as unappetising as this…
If you have the pleasure of visiting this cute taberna you should also try the seared tuna bites and beef tongue croquettes. Then wash it all down with a big jug of Sangria.
So far I’ve focused on the food but for my final recommendation I’m focusing on the whole experience. If you’re in Lisbon for a few days it’s definitely worth hopping on the ferry and exploring what’s on the other side of river Tagus. There’s a nice walk along the coast that leads you passed a number of abandoned buildings covered in graffiti, there’s the statue of Jesus towering over us all, but the real treat is at the end where you’ll find Ponto Final, a bustling fish restaurant with loads of personality and again, a massive queue!
This place has the best view of Lisbon because it faces the city, but it also has the best sunset view, so I would highly recommend booking a table for dinner. Thankfully a good view does not mean the food has to suffer. Ponto Final serves some of the best seafood in town. Fish is cooked simple on the grill but you have your pick of whole grilled seabass, jumbo prawns and the locals favourite, sardines! The Portuguese really know their way around a sardine so I definitely recommend trying them at some point. We were in our element necking back white wine and watching the sun go down over the city…. The perfect way to end the holiday.