A vida em Lisboa
Walking around Lisbon on my first night, I couldn’t help but notice all the parallels between Lisbon and San Francisco. Trekking up the hill from my hostel to the main shopping square reminded me of walking up Nob Hill on my way to work. The trams that ran through the streets were reminiscent of SF’s famous cable cars. At one point, one drove up a hill, and I couldn’t help but think of the iconic SF image with the cable car pulling up on the hill. The next day, I’d learn that SF and Lisbon are actually sister cities. And, to add to the number of similarities, they even have their own version of the Golden Gate Bridge, the 25 de Abril Bridge. I spent five days in Lisboa, which to me, was not enough as I fell for the city that reminds me so much of home. Here are some suggestions for things to eat, drink, and explore.
The Mill: The similarities just don’t end. I was researching brunch places in Lisbon and was debating between going to The Mill and Tartine… even the restaurants have the same names. So funny. The Mill is a cute little coffee shop that dishes up breakfast classics like avocado toast, smoothies, yogurt bowls, and egg dishes.
Fabrica: Solid coffee, large space, but the breakfast selection is limited to pastries and sandwiches. They also have a no wifi policy.
Nicolau: I love everything about Nicolau but the wait time. It reminds me of what a typical LA brunch spot would serve. Nicolau is where you’ll find your healthy brunch options – yogurt bowls, smoothie bowls, avotoast, the works.
Rio Coura: I woke up one day and was just craving something hearty and carby – rice, noodles, but not bread. I decided that I had to find arroz de mariscos (seafood rice) somewhere and set about looking for Restaurante Rio Coura. Channeling my inner genius, I sat in the crowded restaurant next door for 10 minutes before realizing I was in the wrong place. I loved the seafood rice which cost around 10 euros and was enough for two meals. I took the leftovers with me on my daytrip to Belem and ate the second half while sitting and starting at the Belem Tower in the late afternoon.
As Bifanas Do Afonso: A little hole in the wall spot serving up pork sandwiches for 2 euros a piece. On the salty side but perfect when washed down with a glass of vino verdhe.
Portuguese Egg Tarts: Absolute MUST. I just want to live in a pool of custard and be happy forever. I went to Pasteis de Belem twice, which is supposed to be the spot. If you don’t make it out to Belem, Mantegeira is supposedly the place to go in Lisbon.
Bacalau: This is the thing in Lisbon. Bacalau means salted codfish, and it’s a Lisboa specialty. I found it to be quite salty and not my favorite thing. Most of the Portuguese restaurants will serve it – I got mine at Casa da India (which I def thought was an Indian restaurant when I was waiting in line).
Places to try next time: DePrata 52, Jardim dos Sentidos, Bairro do Avillez, SeaMe
Things I ate and didn’t love: Went to Casa Ramiro for seafood – it’s pretty touristy and I spent 60 euros on lunch #notworth; Mercado da Rebeira is cool to walk around but honestly I’d rather just go to the actual restaurant and eat
Belem: The perfect half-day trip from Lisbon, IMO. The tram drops you off right in front of Jeronimos Monastery which is absolutely beautiful and picturesque. From there, you’re walking distance to Pasteis de Belem for some Portuguese egg tarts and a 20 minute walk from the Belem Tower. The waterfront walk gives you beautiful views of the 25 de Abril Bridge.
Cascais: Cascais is a fishing town located about 30 minutes from Lisbon by train or car. If you’re looking for beaches while in Lisbon, this is the place to be.
Sintra: I oh so badly wanted to go to Pena Palace so I booked a Sintra tour, only to find out that we weren’t going there. Sad. I’ve heard it’s beautiful. Go there and take twice as many photos for me, pls.