Lisbon · Portugal

Portugal Wanderlust: Touristing in Lisbon!

Dear K,

I loved to read about your weekend in Houston! Going back to my road trip around Portugal (part 1 & part 2), I’m writing you to tell you about the adventures in our lovely hometown: Lisbon. There are a few new/trendy places in town and since it was JP’s first time here we also covered the most traditional areas.

We started off early in the morning at Parque das Nações, home of the Expo 98, explored the modern architecture of the buildings (my favorite is the Aquarium!), and used the cable car to go from one side to the other. It’s a relatively fast ride but quite pleasant.

Then we had lunch in the heart of Lisbon at Pinóquio. It is a bit touristy because of its prime location, but locals do go there for two specific dishes: the boiled shrimp and pica-pau. So, if you ever go there, those are the two items to have. I do not recommend anything else there and I’m pretty sure no local even looks at the menu.

The next day we went to Sintra! On our way there we stopped by a hole in the wall in Alcabideche, called O Tasco. Hands down to the best Picanha I’ve ever had! I used to go to Mercearia Vencedora all the time at Cascais marina or Campo Pequeno, but it’s double the price and isn’t any better. Now that I know this one exists, I won’t go there anymore if I have the choice. Also, besides being the best picanha, it is all you can eat. Impossible to resist!

We then visited Palácio Nacional de Sintra, Palácio Nacional da Pena, the Moorish Castle and the super cute old center of Sintra. The Palaces have gorgeous colors, sights and Portugal’s heritage. The Moorish Castle has amazing views of the area since it’s on top of the mountain, and during the trail you can see different flags, which actually represent the evolution of Portugal’s flag in the past thousand years. I haven’t seen them since elementary school and a lot of people have no idea our flag changed so many times! Regarding the center of Sintra, nowadays it is too touristy for me but it is gorgeous. It is absolutely mandatory to try the famous travesseiros and queijada de Sintra, both super iconic and delicious!

The evening was spent in Cascais. We walked around the center for a while and then had dinner at Waka Cevicheria, which just became one of my favorite restaurants in the area. It is a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine and it is soooo worth it. The combinations are mouthwatering and the fish is super fresh. We tried from causitas and ceviche to uramakis and tartar over a bottle of wine. Ceviche Waka, Vulcan Maki, Tartar Maki, Salmon Tartar and the tasting of causitas were my favorites, but all the dishes we had were delighful.

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The day after it was time to explore downtown area. We started at Príncipe Real and checked Miradouro de S. Pedro de Alcântara.

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It was around noon and we started getting hungry, so we got in A Cevicheria. It recently opened and it is really popular. Small place, cozy, with a massive decorative octopus on the ceiling. It is the new creation of chef Kiko and it’s getting a ton of attention. They don’t take reservations, so the lines can get crazy. Gladly, we got the last two seats before the line started. It is totally worth the wait though! The good thing is that there’s a window where you can order drinks and a choose from three different dishes while you wait, or if you don’t want to wait for a table and prefer to eat fast and go. What can I say about the food? Absolutely mouthwatering! The flavor and texture combinations are great, but when you add the freshness of the fish it becomes delicious! Our favorites were the scallops gazpacho, pure ceviche and the octopus bbq causa. Don’t forget to try the house’s white wine, it pairs really well with the food!

After lunch we walked around downtown to digest this amazing meal. Chiado, Avenida da Liberdade, Rossio, Rua Augusta, Terreiro do Paço are the most iconic areas so we had to pass by, even though locals don’t go there all the time.

Afterwards, it was time to hit the Castelo de S. Jorge. On the way up we stopped by Sé de Lisboa and enjoyed the old and tiny yet beautiful streets of Alfama and Portas do Sol. Lisbon is known by the city of seven hills, but when you walk it feels more like seven thousand hills! The good part about this are the endless viewpoints around town. But my absolute favorite is the view from the Castle. Breathtaking!!! The weather was gorgeous up there, which doesn’t happen all the time, so we shared a bottle of wine over that panoramic view. Priceless! By the end of the bottle we met a couple of French Canadians and invited them to join us for a drink.

After an hour of getting to know each other, we ended up inviting them for dinner. But before the meal, while going down the hill, this time through the streets of Mouraria, we stopped for a drink and a few appetizers.

Later for dinner, I took JP and the lovely couple to Rubro, in Campo Pequeno. It is my favorite restaurant in Lisbon and I used to go there for most of my birthdays before I moved to the US. We shared a few tapas (pimentos de padrón, cheese with herbs, ovos rotos) and then finished with the famous chuletón de buey. The meat melts in your mouth! It’s sooo good and I’ve missed it so much.

After dinner, we met up with some friends and went to a hipster area in Lisbon, Casa Independente. It’s a bar with a backyard patio and a dance floor inside, really fun and super trendy nowadays. The square where it is located has some other spots to enjoy a few drinks.

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The day after it was time to go to Almada to try the famous Sushic, which was considered the second best restaurant for sushi outside Japan. We really enjoyed the sushi. Super fresh fish, well executed fusion, great presentation, but I don’t think it is the best I’ve had. I was a bit disappointed because I was expecting something exceptional. I would go back, but do not expect anything out of this world in terms of creativity.

During the afternoon we went to Portinho da Arrábida. Really nice beach, but a hassle in terms of accessibility.

For dinner, we really enjoyed O Talho, also from chef Kiko. We tried to go there a couple of nights before, but there was some issue with the reservation so we ended up leaving and coming back that night. They recognized us and overcompensated in terms of service, which is really good already. We had a really nice evening. Amazing service, close to the American approach (finally!) and the food… I’m starting to lack in words to describe all the food we tried. It was superb! We tried the beef cheek dumplings, cozido à portuguesa croquettes, O Talho’s Tartare, beef tenderloin and erva príncipe e goiaba as a dessert. I need to highlight how good the tartare is. I wasn’t sure about trying it, because I’m not a big fan. It’s one of their specialties though, so I gave it a try. And I’m glad I did, it is phenomenal! Definitely try that when you go there.

These days were crazy!!! Full of activities, sights and amazing food! I’m really happy to share this with you.

NEXT STOP: S. Martinho do Porto, Nazaré and Coimbra!

– C

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4 thoughts on “Portugal Wanderlust: Touristing in Lisbon!

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