Make Space for Desserts!
A few weekends ago É and I flew to Portugal, where he’s from. We had no solid plans as these trips usually mean free and easy family time. One thing we’ll never compromise though, is having the best local dishes which I love and É misses. Needless to say, our trip turned out to be one helluva food trail based on purely good food!
I didn’t bother carrying the DSLR, so the grainy pictures in this post were taken by my iPhone. Though they might not look as good as they should be, I promise you can definitely trust a Portuguese foodie, that is É, on this one. The next time you visit Lisbon, make sure you use this guide to plan your meals around your trip.
1. Lunch: Antiga Casa Marítima at Trafaria.
Trafaria is a 15-minute drive from the city centre but you know what they say, it’s about the journey not the destination. As long as you look out the window and take in as much as you can of the scenic views instead of playing with your phone, this trip preps you with a rough idea of what the city feels and look like.
We are here for Caldeirada de Peixe or ‘fish stew cooked in cauldron’. Although you can find this dish at most Portuguese restaurants, Trafaria serves it as a speciality and Antiga Casa Marítima is where you should go.
What you can expect is a stew of different kinds of fishes (with not too many bones), golden potatoes, tender bell peppers and caramelised onions cooked in a light tomato-based broth. It is the kind of meal that makes you say “I can eat this forever!’.
If you’re wondering why this picture looks like leftovers, it’s because we were too hungry we savored it halfway before the iPhone had its chance.
For dessert, try their Bolo de Bolacha Maria (Marie Cookie Cake) for a childhood memory flavor made into a marvellous traditional Portuguese cake.
Restaurante Antiga Casa Maritima
Address: R. Cândido dos Reis 1, 2825 Almada, Portugal.
Phone: +351 21 295 0889
Hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays (12 – 3.30 p.m. & 7.30 – 10.30 p.m.)
Sundays (12 – 3.30 p.m.)
Closed on Mondays.
2. Dinner: Fuso Arruda Dos Vinhos.
There are more than 1000 recipes in Portugal using bacalhau* (salted cod fish) but we’re not going to get complicated today. Bacalhau na Brasa or ‘salted cod fish grilled on amber’ is a simple yet wholesome meal fit for a dining table; be it for two or the entire family.
*To give you an idea, bacalhau is as common and important to the Portuguese as kimchi is to Koreans or sambal is to Malaysians.
You might think, “SALTED cod fish? It must be damn salty!”. That only happens if the cook doesn’t soak / rinse the bacalhau enough during the preparation of this ingredient. At Fuso Arruda Dos Vinhos where they grill HEAPS of them everyday, that’s not gonna happen.
Drizzled with garlic infused olive oil, good quality boiled potatoes (not the Asian ones best mashed); you cut the latter into bite-size pieces, eat them with grilled cod, have a sip of white wine . . . Congratulations, you’re in heaven!
Make space for Maçä Raineta Assada (baked whole apple) as dessert.
Baked in the oven bathed in port wine and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar all over without pastry (because we don’t always feel like pastries after a heavy meal), this makes for a good dessert recommendation from my mother-in-law to me, now to you.
Address: R. Cândido dos Reis 94, 2630-233 Arruda dos Vinhos, Portugal
Phone:+351 263 975 121
Hours: 12 – 11 p.m. everyday
3. Lunch: Tijulia
Tijulia Restaurant has a nice name and Instagram-worthy wall, if pink is your color. What’s nicer though, is the food.
Cozido à Portuguesa or Portuguese (boiled) pork is da’ bomb here and you must ask for more sausages (there are 2 kinds; blood sausage and Farinheira; which is MIND-BLOWING)!!!
I know ‘boiled pork’ doesn’t sound like the most delicious thing on earth, but I noticed that’s only because the Portuguese and Spanish aren’t very creative in giving their food names. Maybe because the food is already so awesome – why bother, right?
If I were to just boil pork or any kinds of meat in a pot, it’s gonna suck real bad. Here, with secret kitchen kung fu, it becomes a delicacy, served with rice and boiled vegetables for a balanced meal. (I had 3 big servings!)
Now that you are stuffed AF, walk 160 meters / 2 minutes and take Elevador da Bica (or you can walk 12 minutes UPHILL with a full tummy, good luck) to the best Portuguese ice cream shop called Santini at Chiado.
There is a tram every 6 minutes and it costs 1.45 euros per person for a nice 10-minute ride.
Tasca Da Tijúlia Lda
Address: Calçada Salvador Correia de Sá 2, 1200 Lisboa, Portugal
Phone: +351 21 346 6075
Hours: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., everyday
Address: R. do Carmo 9, 1200-093 Lisboa, Portugal
Phone: +351 21 346 8431
Hours: 11 – 12 a.m., everyday
4. Dinner: A Varina
Please don’t leave Portugal without trying pataniscas, a kind of dumplings made with bacalhau or octopus. I spend the entire night battling internally about which I like better and never came to a conclusion, so why don’t you order BOTH.
I strongly believe that every Portuguese soul would approve of the pataniscas here as there are awards, features, stars, etc. on the restaurant’s rustic walls.
Order their Arroz de Feijão (bean rice) or tomato rice to go with the dumplings. Call it a match made in heaven.
After all that carbs and fried stuff, order Café con Cheirinho (meaning ‘coffee with little smell’, the most ADORABLE name for coffee ever, if you ask me), which is coffee with a few drops of traditional Portuguese digestive liquor.
Worry you can’t sleep at night because of the caffein kickin’? Why, you need it for the party!
Fabrica de Braço de Prata (‘silver arm’) is your trendy, urban, chic place to go. Translated as ‘silver arm’ in english, it was an old weapons factory that’s converted into a cool area featuring art exhibitions, furniture repair and even music concerts.
Restaurante Varina Da Madragoa
Address: R. das Madres 34, 1200 Lisboa, Portugal
Phone: +351 21 396 5533
Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 12 – 3.30 pm and 7.30 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Saturday: 7.30 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Closed Sundays and Mondays.
5. Lunch: Pedro Dos Leitões at Mealhada (2-hour drive from Lisbon)
Think of this as driving all the way to Malacca for their chicken rice balls or Capitol Satay. Mealhada is a small town famous for its leitão, so good you’d missing out in life if you never tried it before.
Another reason to go? Porto is elected Best European Destination for the 3rd time this year (previously in 2012 and 2014), so I’d highly recommend you to visit É’s hometown because this restaurant, is an easy side track on your way there if you were renting a car to see the country.
Rissol de Leitão – think curry puff without the braided side, stuffed with siu yok, yet still better!
Leitão da Bairrada (roast pork of Bairrada region) – Please Nike it!
Dress Banjir your angmoh siu yok with lots of gravy.
The pastry, mille-feuille, used to make French croissants, was actually invented by Portuguese nuns at convents dedicated to making pastries. This old as time dessert blanketing custard, sprinkled with icing sugar a.k.a. Pastel de Tentugal, is made using the same technique so you can imagine how good it is!
Pedro dos Leitões
Address: Rua Álvaro Pedro nº1, 3050 Mealhada, Portugal
Phone: +351 231 209 950
Hours: 12 – 11 p.m., everyday.
Living in foreign cities and traveling to many different cities, I often struggle to find the must-not-miss food discoveries at new places and it hasn’t always been a smooth research process - Google search results are often paid, their ratings I find doubtful, while good food blogs hide away like a silver pin under thick blankets.
I hope this post manages to give you a delicious insight of what Portuguese food is like, and that it may be of use to you when you visit Lisbon one day, as food plays a huge part in traveling. Agree?