Archive for October, 2012

10 Lisbon Restaurants for Portuguese “Petiscos”

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Petiscos, Lisbon

What are “petiscos”? You could call them “tapas” but that would be Spanish. Petiscos are also small plates, originally served between meals, often to accompany a drink, but more recently they’ve become a trend in Lisbon’s restaurants which are turning them into full meals. Taking a note from the international success of Spanish tapas, there are now several restaurants specializing in petiscos, usually with a “everyone shares them at the table” concept. Here we present the ten places you should try:

ADEGA VICTOR HORTA
Rua Cais de Santarem, 6
Not far from the famous Casa dos Bicos is this “adega” (wine cellar) which produces its own wine and prepares petiscos in its wood oven. The kitchen opens to the rustic-style dining area, so you’ll leave smelling of smoke but it’s still one of the most recommendable dining experiences for those looking for a special night of local traditions.

TABERNA MODERNA
In addition to Portuguese petiscos you’ll also have Spanish tapas in a spacious room that also has a bar serving dozens of different gins. It’s quite a popular spot at the moment.

PHARMACIA
Rua Marechal Saldanha, 1
Facing one of the city’s viewpoints by the Pharmacy Museum, this restaurant’s décor is inspired by the pharmacies of the past. The menu lists a number of petiscos which young crowds seem to enjoy accompanied by Portuguese wines.

TABERNA TOSCA
In a neighborhood of small traditional family-run restaurants this one stands out for providing a contemporary touch to the traditional petiscos. You’ll want to avoid it if you’re vegetarian, but meat lovers will enjoy the place and the wines accompanied by cheese.

TABERNA DA RUA DAS FLORES
Rua das Flores, 103
Open throughout the day for a mid-day snack or a full meal, this space recalls the old local grocery stores and taverns. It’s a charming place for petiscos following some long-forgotten recipes.

DE CASTRO ELIAS
When one of Porto’s most successful chefs moved to Lisbon, he opened this place as his first restaurant. Located not far from the Gulbenkian Museum, it’s a good choice for a lunch of petiscos. Look for the clams with butter beans (“ameijoas com feijão manteiga”) which is a classic of the chef.

TASCA DA ESQUINA
The chef is one of the city’s most acclaimed but instead of fine dining the restaurant offers refined versions of traditional petiscos. Here the concept isn’t so much sharing but ordering them individually at surprisingly reasonable prices considering the quality.

TABERNA IDEAL
Rua da Esperança 112-114
This restaurant is packed every night by crowds sharing traditional dishes. It was the first one to revive the petiscos concept a few years ago and is still quite popular. It doesn’t take bookings so show up early.

PETISCARIA IDEAL
Rua da Esperança, 100
Almost immediately next door to Taberna Ideal, this one has the same owners and also serves a menu of petiscos which you are encouraged to share. The décor curiously mixes pages of old books, pots and pans. It also does not take bookings.

ARTIS
Rua do Diário de Notícias, 95
It’s not exactly a restaurant, it’s a wine bar, but it serves excellent restaurant-style petiscos. Although many go for the flaming chouriço (sausage), there are a few other choices to accompany the wines.

“Go Lisbon” Recommended as Booking Site In New “Lonely Planet” Guidebook

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Lonely Planet LisbonGoLisbon.com is again recommended in the Lisbon guidebook of the Lonely Planet series. The latest edition has just been published and this time GoLisbon is listed as a “useful website” for bookings “before you go,” saying the site is where you can “book central apartments or search for hotels” (and let’s not forget hostels, tours or the must-get Lisboa Card).
This new series of books is pocket-sized and the name illustrates that: “Pocket Lisbon.” It focuses on the top sights and local life.
It seems to have been very well researched by the author, although there are the unavoidable recommendations of a couple of restaurants that have closed as the book went to press. But there is always the internet and sites like GoLisbon for you to double-check the information.
The guide really was written quite recently, pointing to the hottest neighborhoods of the moment, including the “grim-turned-glam” Cais do Sodré that only in the last few months did it become the place to be at night.
A curious feature is a two-page guide to Baixa’s “Back in Time” shopping with “old-school specialty shops” that never make it in guidebooks.
Another curious choice is the ruined Carmo Convent as one of the top sights in the city, as well as the selection of Sintra’s National Palace, when Pena Palace is the most famous and most fantastic of the two.
Overall this is probably the best guidebook to those coming on a short break to Lisbon. It’s divided by neighborhoods, the maps are good and is filled with useful tips.
As for the introduction to the city, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves:
A roller-coaster city of seven hills, crowned by a Moorish castle and washed in an artist’s pure light, Lisbon is cinematically beautiful and historically compelling. This is a capital city of big skies and bigger vistas; of rumbling trams and Willy Wonka–like elevators; of melancholic fado song and live-to-party nightlife. Edge, charisma, postcard good looks – Lisbon has the lot.

Lisbon Has one of Europe’s Best Tourist Cards, According to EuroTest

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Lisboa CardLisbon’s tourist card (the “Lisboa Card“) has been found to be one of Europe’s five best tourist passes according to a study by Eurotest. A total of sixteen cards from different European cities were analyzed, and Lisbon’s card was only topped by Vienna’s, Oslo’s, Ljubljana’s, and Amsterdam’s.

According to Eurotest, the Lisboa Card didn’t rank higher because it fails to provide priority admission but scored points for offering free access to public transportation (including the metro from the airport) and to a varied choice of attractions, including the main monuments and landmarks.

Many of these types of cards are often not worth the investment because they only offer small discounts and don’t include the main sights, but in Lisbon’s case it’s a must-get as it saves lots of money and time. Tourists have the option to buy it for as many as three days and have the opportunity to buy it online before they leave home, picking it up on arrival at the airport or at a tourist office.

At the bottom of the list were the tourist cards of Berlin and Paris.

The Bifana: Portugal’s Tasty Meat Snack

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Bifanas de Vendas Novas

 

What comes to mind when you are asked about typical Portuguese dishes? Bacalhau (cod), and the many different ways it can be prepared? Chicken with “piri piri” spicy sauce? Soups, grilled fish or cozido à portuguesa (a stew of different meats and vegetables)? Or a desert such as the tasty custard tarts called “pastéis de Belém”?

Well, today we present to you a simple sandwich that any local you care to ask would say is typically Portuguese – the “bifana”. The bifana is so popular in Portugal that McDonalds here have even launched the McBifana in recent times. So what is it? Basically a slice of pork steak in a roll of bread, the pork having been lightly sautéed, sometimes with garlic and/or other spices, so that the meat is warm and juicy. The bread roll is usually distinctly crusty, puffy and floury, and the whole thing is often eaten as a snack for lunch, sometimes with a bowl of soup.

The Alentejo region of Portugal is well-known for the quality and variety of its gastronomy, and it is said that the bifana originated here in the town of Vendas Novas. Most locals will tell you that the best bifanas are from this area, and supposedly they are a cut above those made elsewhere.

The Bifana de Vendas Novas then, is made from select pork fillet and is marinated and then cooked in a secret sauce. The bread roll is lightly toasted which, together with the special sauce and juicy meat, makes this a truly delicious and appetizing snack.

If you want to try the famous bifana from Alentejo, it’s no longer necessary to visit Vendas Novas, you can sample this tasty sandwich right here in Lisbon. Almost any café or bar will have bifanas on the menu, but if you want to try the one from Vendas Novas, go to the Bifanas de Vendas Novas kiosk in the Colombo mall in Benfica, one of Portugal’s largest shopping centres. Here you can try the original (and supposedly the best) bifana, together with other traditional dishes and soups.

Bifanas de Vendas Novas: http://www.bifanasdevendasnovas.com