One of the things first-time visitors to Lisbon notice immediately at the end of the day is that the Portuguese dine much later than elsewhere in Europe. The Iberian custom of dining at 8 or 9PM is pushed even further on weekend nights when it’s not unusual to book a restaurant for 9:30 or 10PM. After a long meal followed by the obligatory cup of coffee, and lots of talking in between, it’s possible to find yourself leaving a restaurant at well past midnight. That’s very early in Lisbon time, meaning that a bar (usually in Bairro Alto) is the next destination for a caipirinha or a special cocktail. When all is said and done, it’s around 3 or 4AM, and for many young people with plenty of energy left, it’s time to hit the clubs by the riverfront. That means that they’ll also wake up very late in the following morning (or afternoon), and that’s what may explain the rising trend of the weekend brunch in Lisbon.
Until not too long ago there weren’t many options in the city for the meal combining breakfast and lunchtime food, but that has changed dramatically over the past couple of years, and there are now many attractive places to choose from if you find yourself being dragged through the night during your stay in Lisbon and wake up well past your hotel’s breakfast time. Here are 5 of the best brunch spots in Lisbon:
This gourmet shop/cafeteria across the street from Santa Apolónia Station was one of the first to introduce the brunch concept in Lisbon and remains one of the most popular. Every Saturday and Sunday between 10AM and 4PM there are two menus to choose from, served indoors or at the very pleasant terrace facing the river. Expect freshly squeezed juice, bread and croissants, yogurt with muesli, and/or scrambled eggs. Also expect to wait in line for a table if you show up closer to the usual lunch time.
(Avenida Infante D. Henrique, Armazem B Loja 8 – Alfama)
This current favorite café in the Chiado district offers Viennese ambience and flavors. For 8.90 euros, you may get Austrian bread with cold cuts, cheese, eggs, and yogurt. A few tables are placed by the door outside on good-weather days, and there are international publications and the newspapers of the day available inside.
(Rua Anchieta, 3 – Chiado)
The most expensive and sophisticated brunch in Lisbon is at this café in the Altis Belem Hotel. It faces a marina halfway between the Discoveries Monument and the landmark Belem Tower, and offers a special meal for 30 euros (drinks not included). Sit at one of the outdoor tables and enjoy the pleasant surroundings as you sample a rich buffet of meats, cheeses, fruits, breads, and pastries.
(Doca do Bom Sucesso, Belém)
Just like Kaffeehaus mentioned above, “Pois” is an Austrian-owned café. It is found around the corner from Lisbon’s medieval cathedral in the Alfama district and offers one of the most laid-back ambiences of any café in the city. Decorated with old, mismatched furniture, its brunch includes tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, fresh fruit juices, and a variety of cheeses, hams, and breads. All for 10 euros.
(Rua São João da Praça, 93-95 – Alfama)
SÃO ROQUE MUSEUM CAFÉ
The recently-renovated museum of sacred art also houses a café in a wonderful Asian-inspired courtyard. Between 10AM and 6PM on weekends you may have a fruit juice, coffee, or tea, with eggs, bacon, toasted bread, scones, cheese, and hams. The total cost is 10 euros.
(Largo Trindade Coelho, 21 – Chiado)
For more ideas and choices for a light meal in Lisbon, see GoLisbon’s cafés recommendations.