Foodies abroad: Aussie cafés in LA
For a little slice of home (and a few slices of avo toast).
If Lisbon isn’t already high on your must-visit list, we’ve got three little words that might put it straight to the top.
Portuguese custard tarts. You know the ones we’re talking about – flaky pastry, warm custard and a sprinkle of cinnamon. You’ll find them on every street corner in Lisbon, but custard tarts aren’t the only thing Lisbon does well.
From sangria on rooftops to tables overladen with tapas, there’s plenty to eat your way through in Portugal’s capital – and with all the hills you’ll be walking up, you’re bound to work up an appetite.
Far from being pokey spare rooms, Airbnbs in Lisbon are bright and breezy affairs, from cool and quirky lofts to gorgeously designed apartments complete with private terraces and freestanding bathtubs, all of them easy on the hip pocket. You’ll want to stay in a different one every night – and keep the fridge well stocked with charcuterie and custard tarts.
If you really want to treat yourself, these boutique lodgings boast a hard-to-beat location in the heart of Lisbon’s nightlife, views of the river and a Japanese restaurant that plates up some seriously good sushi, plus a bright blue façade that will look great on your Instagram feed. Also, they provide free afternoon port and custard tarts – need we say more?
The perfect dining option for anyone who suffers from a severe case of Can Never Decide What to Eat, the Time Out Markets are a smorgasbord of Portuguese eats, with multiple stalls offering up budget-friendly sample dishes from a few of the country’s Michelin starred chefs. Start your feast with some croquettes, move on to crispy pork belly and traditional seafood rice, and finish off with gelato and a glass of port (or custard tarts if you haven’t yet had enough). Best to schedule in at least two visits (or you know, five).
As you’ll quickly find out on an eating tour around Lisbon, some tarts are better than others, but the best ones are to be found at this blue tiled spot just outside the centre of town. Easily combined with a visit to the impressive Belem Tower, we recommend stopping for a six pack (read: twelve pack) of their moreish tarts AFTER you visit the tower – otherwise you’ll be unable to resist eating them all and stopping for another pack on your way out (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Knowing what you’re ordering is great, but sometimes the best international dining experiences happen when you just point and hope for the best. At Taberna da Rua das Flores, where the Portuguese chalkboard menu changes daily, pointing and hoping is pretty much your only option, but there’s no risk of ordering something less than tasty here, so just pick five plates from the board (use Google Translate to make sure the fig and goat’s cheese bites are one of them) and await the adventure. Be sure to get there early to put your name on the list at the door – they don’t take bookings and tables fill up quick.
The Portuguese dining style is one we can really get behind: order plenty of small plates to share and always finish off with dessert. At Bairro do Avillez, you’ll want to arrive hungry, because there’s no stopping at just two or three items from this menu. Traditional flavours abound in dishes like cod with cornbread and chorizo crumbs, twice cooked veal with potato and mustard cream, and olive oil and honey pudding for the final bow.
Ever tried fried gizzards? Black sausage? Pork feet with coriander? For the adventurous eaters out there, Tasca da Esquina takes nose-to-tail eating to new heights. We’ll admit, we stuck to safer dishes like sauteed squid, cheesecurd with red peppers and lemon cockles, but hey, we thought about it. More adventurous than us? Order the pork testicle foie gras if you dare.
You could stroll past this multi-storey carpark and be none the wiser that a plush green garden bar sits on the top – save for the faint sound of music wafting down from above. Trust us that it’s worth finding and take a lift to the fifth floor, where you’ll find palm trees, stylish locals and a 180-degree view of Lisbon’s rooftops awaiting you. As the DJ spins tunes, sip on a mojito and try to be cool as you surreptitiously Snapchat the sunset.
What this tiny spot lacks in space, it makes up for in epic views over the city. Don’t be put off by the entrance – it might look like an abandoned building from the street, but head up to the top floor and you’ll find the open-air bar, with theatrical bartenders waiting to pour you a picture-perfect Aperol spritz to go with the view.
If you manage to find this colourful spot without meaning to, you’re definitely lost – tucked down and alleyway and behind a restaurant, the leafy courtyard bar is a world away from the bustle outside. Quiet as it is, their plush purple daybeds are definitely one of the best spots to enjoy a jug of fruity sangria after a day of sightseeing – whether you decide to share it or not is up to you.
We love caipirinhas and pina coladas as much as the next person, but for creative cocktails that will really knock your espadrilles off, this bohemian bar is definitely the place to be. Nab a seat among the eclectic vintage surrounds and order up a Daiquiri de Pêra Rocha white rum, native Portuguese Rocha pear, thyme, and lime juice, or a refreshing Gimlet Insólito with gin, Granny Smith apple, syrup and fresh lime juice. Hot tip: they taste even better (not that they need any help) out on the terrace overlooking the twinkling lights of Lisbon below
After a long day of strolling the streets and hunting down custard tarts, climbing yet another hill is probably the last thing you want to do, but just one more uphill slog will get you to Pharmacia’s astro-turfed patio, where the best kind of medicine awaits: cocktails and sexy tanned waiters to bring them to you. The diagnosis for your weary feet? Lacking in booze. The cure? Another round of Morphinas, a blend of pineapple juice and sparkling wine. Best of all, once you’ve enough mojitos, you can head inside for dinner in the quirky hospital-themed restaurant.
We’re not exaggerating about the number of hills here – the whole city spreads over seven hills in total, though you’ll probably think it’s 207 after about half an hour of wandering the streets. To get around without the corresponding aching thighs, grab a window seat on Tram 28 as it winds its way through the prettiest areas of Lisbon, including viewpoints like Miradouro das Portas do Sol, and past plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants if you want to turn it into your own personal hop-on-hop-off tour of the best Aperol spritzes in the city.
An industrial area turned arts hub, LX Factory is where you’ll find all the hipsters of Lisbon and everything they bring: boutique coffee, handcrafted homewares, funky barbers, eye-catching street art and Sunday flea markets. After a stop at LXeesecake for cake and Wish for coffee, browse the shelves at secondhand bookstore Ler Devagar, pick up some gourmet goodies at MoreThanWine and finish things off with rooftop wines at Rio Maravilha. Hipster life!
Going to Lisbon without setting aside a day to visit the fairytale castles of Sintra would be like going to a party and not staying for the cake. A quick 30-minute drive or hour-long train trip, Sintra is where you’ll find the colourful towers of Pena Palace, the ancient Moorish Castelo dos Mouros, and the mysterious gardens of Quinta da Relaleira, all of which you can see in a day. Wear your most princess-worthy outfit and pack plenty of custard tarts for sustenance.
Now, time to find out how many custard tarts we can fit into our suitcase for the trip home…