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Looks like I'll be spending a short week in Portugal this autumn--my choice of Lisbon, Porto, or both. Once I get to Portugal, I think I'll want to limit my travel to one city so me and dad can kick back and relax without moving around too much. Who's been? Preference? Restaurant recommendations? Suggestions for one special meal?

Thank you!!

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Stay in Lisbon, but make a two-day jaunt to Porto. Porto is a pretty spectacular place scenery-wise, and a day of tasting at the port lodges is a lot of fun. Highly recommended. I'll try and remember some restaurant names for you. Only thing coming to mind right now was a great lunch at the Taylor Fladgate lodge in Porto.

For something closer to Lisbon, Sintra is a good option. And don't even log back on to DR if you miss the famous custard tarts, pastel de belem, at Pasteis de Belem (in Belem, a very short trip from Lisbon) ;) The single greatest baked good I've ever tasted (supposedly they sell 10,000 of them per day).

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And don't even log back on to DR if you miss the famous custard tarts, pastel de belem, at Pasteis de Belem (in Belem, a very short trip from Lisbon) ;) The single greatest baked good I've ever tasted (supposedly they sell 10,000 of them per day).

Ditto that. It is so damn good.

Also if you have a chance, go out to Estoril for some good seafood.

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We travel there 2 to 3 times yearly to visit our daughter and her family. Let me recommend a lovely resaturant in the neighborhood where we stay, a little off the tourist track. It is "Solar dos Nunes" at Rua dos Lusiadas, 68-72, Tel:21 364 7359. Closed Sunday. If you travel by bus or trolley, you'd get off just under the 25 Abril bridge and walk up Rua ? de Oliveira one block, then left one block to the restaurant. We usually go for lunch and choose from the daily specials (be sure you look at the menu in Portuguese for these). Last month we had rice with shellfish, and grilled baby kid - both superb. Of course they always bring "starters" to the table that include olives, wonderful little soft cheeses and often slices of "pata negra" ham. The latter is truly special but expensive. (By the way, you can send back any starters you think you don't want. You will be charged for any that you eat.) To the contrary the daily specials are exceedingly reasonable and always great. The house red wine from the Alentejo is delicious. The restaurant is traditional and very attractive and the service is wonderful. This neighborhood is midway between downtown Lisbon and Belem, where the aforementioned Pasteis de Belem (and the Jeronimos Monastery) are to be found.

If you get out to Cascais and Guincho, I strongly recommend Joao Padeiro on the beach in Guincho (21 487 1007) for the Linquado (grilled Dover Sole). Sit by the front windows with the surf rushing in below you and enjoy the best sole you've ever eaten! Not inexpensive.

Here's another place that's become a favorite. It's called Churrasqueira do Sacramento or Casa Toscano (which I don't understand. Sounds Italian which it's not.) Rua do Sacramento (a Alcantara) 74/76, Tel: 21 396 8633. Closed Sunday. This is a very simple, small, informal restaurant that specializes in grilled fresh fish, and meats too, but we always have fish. You can see what they have in the counter and they grill it right in the front window. It was served with a nice fresh lettuce and tomato salad and boiled potatoes with olive oil. Everything delicious!! And very reasonably priced! Another restaurant we like in the Alcantara area is O Painel de Alcantara, Rua do Arco (a Alcantara) 7-13, Tel: 21 396 5920, closed Sunday. It gets very crowded; should reserve. They serve traditional Portuguese dishes, very well prepared (and copious). Have enjoyed the arroz de mariscos and baked kid. Also very reasonable. Daily specials always good. A truly lovely and tranquil restaurant that is mentioned in most guides is Conventual. We have had several lunches there that were superb. We think it's one of the best restaurants in Lisbon and for such a delightful setting and exceptional food it is not very expensive. It' in the Estrela area, Tel: 213 909 246.

For home-style Alentejo specialities - the mother cooks, the son serves, try O Galito, Rua da Fonte, 16-A, Carnide, Lisboa, • Tel: 217 166 475. On our last visit we had the daily specials for our main course - ensopada de borrego - lamb soup, in a clear broth, with chunks of lamb, bread and cilantro. Very tasty. I had tiny grilled lamb chops, accompanied by rice with parsley. Our starters had us a bit puzzled. One was a plate of what must have been "farinheira," little puffs of what seemed like sausage-flavored bread that are hard to stop eating. We also had fava beans with slices of a tasty dark sausage, and a salad of what we thought was shreds of turkey with onion and cilantro that turned out to be rabbit. All unique and delicious. Instead of a sweet for dessert, we asked for cheese and were served a piece of serpa cheese accompanied by a slab of a sweet fruit paste. This was a wonderful combination of tastes and when I asked our server what it was, he responded "You can't buy it; my mother makes it!" This is a lovely little restaurant. Must call and reserve in advance.

By the way, don't miss trying some of the wonderful Portuguese cheeses. Some of the top ones are: Azeitao, Serpa and Serra. They are often served in restaurants either as starters or as dessert courses and will be in perfect condition. A real treat! We always buy several to bring home (carry zip-lock bags with you). The department store El Corte Ingles has a great food store on the lower level where we always shop, but there are also lots of specialty deli-type stores around too.

I guess I could go on and on. Please PM me if you have questions. Also check egullet forums - lots of info there from several years ago especially.

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These have been such amazingly thoughtful and helpful suggestions--I can't thank you enough!

But if I can pile on, I've got two other questions...

First, can you recommend one or two good shops where I can buy lots and lots of cured meats and cheeses to bring back home? I live in Africa, so customs aren't a problem, but I'm desperate to return with lots of good stuff to fill my pantry and freezer for the next few months.

Second, as I live in Africa, I'm jonsing for some sushi. Do you have the name of a good place or two I can get my fix?

It turns out we will be staying in Lisbon the whole time, with maybe a day trip to somewhere yet undecided... :angry:

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The aforementioned El Corte Ingles has an amazing selection of cheeses and meats. We always shop there, but also shop at a supermarket called Jumbo (just off the highway to Cascais, not far from the center of Lisbon, visible from the road on the right). You'd need a car to get there but they have many of the same items for less money. I know there are many smaller deli type shops scattered around Lisbon, but we rarely shop at them. Have a good trip and enjoy the food!

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I failed, culinarily, in Lisbon. Which is not to say I ate badly--I think that's nearly impossible. But I didn't discover anything new and didn't get to visit most of the excellent places recommended in this thread. But I can still share some knowledge:

Devour the pasteis de Belem: Don't ignore this recommendation. If you follow it, you'll find yourself at a storefront next to the Jeronimos monastery, at the end of a seemingly unending line. First: the main line is for takeout--if you want to sit in, go in the door to the left and wander like a vulture to grab a table. Second: even if you have to wait in line, it's worth it. This may not be the best pastry ever, but it is a perfect pastry. Poured into a filo shell that's sprinkled with sugar to make it all burny and carmelly and lovely, the custard is warm and soft and ... custardy. Eaten in the restaurant, they're served a perfect temperature, just warm, and the perfect size. I'm not big on sweets, but I could eat one of these little perfections every day. I craved them every day I was there, and continue to do so

Embrace the couvert: Everywhere you eat--fine or fast--they'll greet you with a basket of bread and some other goodies, ranging from cheese to olives to pate to ham. Each thing costs, and you can turn any or all of them back and not pay, but I recommend sampling whatever looks good. Even at the most humble places, we were presented with cheese that was impeccably kept and gorgeous. I honestly can't believe the respect that's been given to cheese, even at the smallest sidewalk cafeteria. At stylish places, you'll find very nicely cured olives--orange and garlic and hot pepper. At older places, you'll find a pate that is peerless--and that you have to fight to keep on the table when your entrees are delivered (generally fairly quickly if you don't delay ordering). PS: Do double-check your bill, always; you may--often--find yourself charged for couvert that you didn't consume. They tend to be very nice about taking these off your check.

Drink up the vinho verde: Wine guys, correct me if I'm wrong, but vinho verde is a Portuguese white wine that's rarely exported because it can't make the trip. It's delicate, and has a low level of natural carbonation. And it makes for an excellent refresher to drink during lunch, sold generally in half or whole bottles. After hours of walking over Lisbon's seven hills, nothing renews the spirit more than a pork-based lunch bolstered by a half bottle of vinho verde.

Learn Portuguese: This is my biggest regret. Work and life got in the way of my learning even the most basics, but I highly recommend it. Unlike Spanish, French, and even Italian, Portuguese has almost no place in America's national rhetoric. The words and pronunciations are utterly foreign--x-es and tildas everywhere you look. A modicum of understanding, or a phrasebook, would do wonders for any traveler looking to eat--and know what they're eating.

All that said, it's very difficult to eat badly in Lisbon if you follow these rules, as long as you stay away from the tourist places (hello, Baixa!).

We did eat at a very nice, semi-touristy restaurant in M. de Pombal, Pabe. It had a hunting theme, and proprieters with very good English. I ordered the pork loin, which was honestly a good chunk of a loin grilled as a whole over coals, then sliced and served rare. It was transcendent.

Also, eat the chestnuts sold on the street, and the gelato from the vendors on most corners. Port, obviously, is excellent there, as was the suggestion of a "port cocktail"--one part white port, two parts tonic, and a lime. The banking system is fairly closed, so you can only change money at sketchy "cambios" and not at banks, and I couldn't use my ATM card (which I've used easily in other countries), though my traveling companion used his with no problem.

But, as I wrote to myself while I was there, "Lisbon seems engineered to elicit pleasure. But it's not about impressing you with its excess, but rather comforting you with its fundamentals of perfectly cooked pork, pristinely kept cheese, natural architecture, and embedded tiles. It doesn't announce itself like some cities; after passing a building, you have to turn around to notice its beautiful mosaics and lofty towers. This city is meant to give joy to people who seek it."

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I forgot to mention my sushi experience...

Experiencing deep cravings, I asked our excellent concierge for a sushi restaurant recommendation. After he gave me a blank look, I told him that I'd heard of Aya--did he know how to get there or know if it was any good? He looked it up and checked with some people and told me it would be an excellent choice. But after trekking out to the MALL FOOD COURT it was located in, I found that it was closed for a week for renovations.

Trek back to the hotel--any other ideas? Well, there's a place by my home, he says. Ozaka. Looks very nice. A 20-minute cab ride later, I found myself in a reasonably nice Japanese restaurant with about thirty tables in addition to two Benihana-like table grills. You're not going to run across this place; it's in an entirely residential neighborhood cluster of large apartment buildings. The waitresses spoke no English whatsoever but steered me forcefully away from the menu to the buffet. (Oh crap.) When I arrived, there were only two other tables there; by the time I left, the other seven tables had all ordered the buffet. It offered several raw meats which they could stir-fry for you, some spring rolls, gyoza, and tempura, and pre-made sushi and maki. I didn't try the meats; the fried bits were unexceptional; the sushi was bizarre. The rice was extremely sweet, and the sushi was served on meatball-sized balls of it--like, golf-ball-sized balls, not quenelles. The fish--tuna, salmon, shrimp, and (I think) hamachi--was generally dry and flavorless (thus the "I think" about the hamachi).

Oh, and if anyone can explain this to me, I'd appreciate it: I ordered sake, which was served in a box on a saucer. She poured from the bottle into the box until it overflowed the box to the edges of the saucer, then sprinkled some salt on one edge. It was distressingly messy to drink, but I freely admit that I may have been doing it wrong.

I don't know if Aya would have been any better than Ozaka, but the Portuguese version of sushi is very different than the American one. Well, as it should be--different countries, different culinary foundations, different immigrant populations. But I wouldn't recommend an American getting his fix for rice, raw fish, and seaweed in Lisbon.

If I'm wrong and missed out, please do let me know!

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It was distressingly messy to drink, but I freely admit that I may have been doing it wrong.

Did you drink from the corners or the sides of the box? The idea (I've been told) is that it is designed to be shared and each person takes their own corner, for sanitary reasons.

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Did you drink from the corners or the sides of the box? The idea (I've been told) is that it is designed to be shared and each person takes their own corner, for sanitary reasons.

I drank out of the corner, but that wasn't really the problem; the problem was that the saucer was also filled to the brim--and she seemingly meant to do that--so every time I picked up the box, the bottom dripped all over the table.

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Did you drink from the corners or the sides of the box? The idea (I've been told) is that it is designed to be shared and each person takes their own corner, for sanitary reasons.

According to numerous sources, the masu (sake box) represents a standard volumetric unit (and multiples thereof), and was originally used to measure a one-meal portion of rice. The box shape happens to be convenient to reproduce in a uniform size.

Overflowing the container is a sign of abundant hospitality and generosity. More info here.

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nothing renews the spirit more than a pork-based lunch bolstered by a half bottle of vinho verde.

I can think of something that renews the spirit twice as much....

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I drank out of the corner, but that wasn't really the problem; the problem was that the saucer was also filled to the brim--and she seemingly meant to do that--so every time I picked up the box, the bottom dripped all over the table.
It wouldn't help with the first few drinks from the masu, but you are supposed to pour the sake from the saucer into the masu and drink it as well.

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Well, I guess I'm a little late, but our favorite part of Lisbon (other than some small fado club that we stumbled upon and couldnt find again) was the Port Wine Institute. Pages upon pages of port by the glass, with small bites available to take the edge off. I love research.

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I just got back a few weeks ago and here are a few suggestions:

1. Double ditto on Pasteis de Belem. Heaven in a filo shell.

2. Olivier, which got a write up in both the NY Times and Time Out Lisbon. My meal (from an email):

I had another amazing meal last night - write this down: Olivier. It is in the NY Times and also Time Out. For 35 euros you get 9 small starters (like tapas) and then the main course. I also had two caipirinhas and their signature dessert for a total of 56E plus tip. (I overtip - another 10E).

One "small" tapas was foie gras on top of carmelized onions. but these weren´t ordinary carmelized onions, they were soaked in port and a touch of raspberry vinaigrette and a "secret ingredient" for 4 hours and then carmelized. The foie gras was the size of a hockey puck, but not as thick. I ate the whooooole thing. Octopus carpaccio, beef carpaccio, puff pastry with goat cheese, honey and walnuts, etc. etc. the main course was juicy/crispy pork of a black pig and mashed potatoes with truffles mixed in (remember - 35 euros!)

Because it was the night of a huge soccer match when I got there, no one was there (huge as in - determining if Portugal was going to the 2008 euro-match). The waiters had the TV on and were watching the match which worked out fine until the owner showed up and had a hissy. It was funny watching them wrestle over the remote. As people eventually trickled in I figured out that they were in essence feeding me dual portions since they don´t halve anything for single diners. Some things lent themselves to one-person portions, other things (foie gras) clearly did not so I ate a two person portion of foie gras. With all this walking my pants still fit, despite the food, so if you want to eat well, come here and don´t use public transport to get around.

3. Coimbra - I stayed at Quintas das Lagrimas, which is a Relais et Chateaux hotel. Their restaurant has a Michelin 1-star! Las Arcadas. Chef's menu, including wine, was 66 euros. mmmmmmmmmm

4. Near Coimbra is a town called Mealhada. It is renowned for its suckling pig. Also from my email:

I decided I wanted to go to a little town near Coimbra to have the roast suckling pig. This small town is FAMOUS for this meal. Jancis Robinson of the Financial Times, and a well known wine writer, wrote an article about this town and its specialty - it's that good.

The meal was amazing. Crispy suckling pig, french fries, salad, bread, vinho verde. The only damper on the evening was that there were the beautiful handpainted tiles (azulejos) on the wall in front of me: The first scene showed Wilbur, Babe, and the Piglet sibs hanging out with Mama Pig. The next scene showed baby piglet with a spit up his arse, and farmer Joe holding the spit in front of the fire, with the title "entrada al forno" (meaning, entering the oven). Hard to enjoy the meal when you are looking at Wilbur and Babe.

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Does anyone have recent experiences to share from travel in Portugal? I am heading to Lisbon in June and will likely also be traveling to Sintra and the Algarve (am leaning towards Lagos at the moment). Am looking for great places to eat, drink, etc....

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We were in Lisbon last month and I would continue to recommend the restaurants I wrote about in an earlier post (June 2007), except Conventual, which appears to have closed its doors. If you have a car, two restaurants we LOVE that are up the coast a bit are: Azenhas do Mar, in the tiny town of the same name, not too far from Sintra up the coast, and built into the cliff- side above the water. They have a swimming pool, but we always just go to eat lunch and in the off-season anyway. http://www.azenhasdomar.com/index.php The other one is: Esplanada Furnas in Ericeira, still further up the coast and easy to combine with a visit to the palace in Mafra. As you enter this restaurant you pass a display of all their fresh fish on ice. The grills and chefs are right there too and you select the fish you want and they will grill it for you. You can also order other things - like "fish rice" or "Cataplana" - from the menu once seated. Everything is fabulous and their bread is wonderfull. http://www.restfurnasericeira.com/index.html Another restaurant that's right downtown that I haven't been to, but that is getting great reviews is : http://www.solardospresuntos.com/. I plan to check it out next visit.

We always call restaurants and reserve ahead, particularly if you're driving somewhere outside of town and on weekends. Actually, we always do, unless it's a place on the street you just pass by and wander in to.

Haven't been to the Algarve for a few years but in the past our family stayed on an organic farm owned by an ex-pat German near the town of Silves. In the town of Silves is the renowned MARISQUEIRA RUI: http://www.marisqueirarui.com/ENG/restaurante.html. All the seafood, especially the shellfish, is fantastic. Don't miss ordering "Ameijoas," tiny clams cooked with wine, garlic and cilantro. Finish by using your bread to soak up all the juice!

One other idea is to visit this place in Lisbon for tastings and education on Portuguese wine - and it's free. http://www.viniportugal.pt/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=29&Itemid=44

We're visiting Portugal again the last week of April. If I come up with anything else, I'll let you know.

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We're headed to Portugal for two weeks in February -- a week in Lisbon and a week in Porto.  Has anyone been recently?  We'll be traveling with a toddler so baby-friendly recommendations are particularly welcome, as are tips on good places for seafood.  Thanks!

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You'll have to work hard to find bad seafood in Lisbon.  Even around the touristy areas you can walk into a restaurant, point to a fish that was swimming the day before and have a great meal.  If you were coming from the States I'd tell you to make sure to eat the over steamed carrots and green beans that you may encounter as the flavor is above and beyond most vegetables here.

Given that you are traveling with a baby, Time Out's Mercado da Riberia is going to be a must do a few times.  It is a food connoisseur's food court dream: stands that serve gourmet meals using the best ingredients around.  At one stand I did a five course food tasting that was fantastic.  At another I had sauteed clams that were sweet and briny.

I brought home a bunch of tins from Lojas Das Conservas, which specializes in tinned fish.  They have selections from about a dozen different producers, some of which use processing methods that are historic.  The prices were very reasonable and each tin has been delicious.

When you sit down at most restaurants they will bring you bread and other little snacks.  You will be charged for these so you should feel free to send them back.

Finally, make sure you try garfish.  It is similar to the sardine but smokier.

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In Porto: Eat at Five Oceans. It's on the west side near the statues of the women calling for the men who have been lost at sea.

Explore the places that are just one block back from the river and near the bridge. Tiny and way less expensive than those along the chai, but often delightful

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On 1/19/2015 at 0:53 PM, hillvalley said:

Given that you are traveling with a baby, Time Out's Mercado da Riberia is going to be a must do a few times.  It is a food connoisseur's food court dream: stands that serve gourmet meals using the best ingredients around.  At one stand I did a five course food tasting that was fantastic.  At another I had sauteed clams that were sweet and briny.

This x 10000000000.  We were in Lisbon for four nights last week and ate here three days in a row.  Restaurant-quality food without having to worry about our young kids being loud and squirmy because there are so many other people there.  Most dishes at the Henrique Sa Pessoa and Alexandre Silva stalls were just over $10 and I would've gladly paid twice as much for many of them, including the black bass tartare, the braised pork cheeks, and squid ink risotto with seared scallops.  At peak times, you have to wait up to 20 or 30 minutes for your food to be sent out but that's because everything is being cooked to order.

The pasteis de nata in Belem were indeed great, though I would've been fine staying closer to town and had the ones at Manteigaria which were about 95 percent as good and much less crowded.

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For drinks at sunset visit the Park bar on the top of a parking structure.  They converted the top of the parking structure into a nice area with lots of trees and plants with views of the tops of buildings, some church steeples and a bridge.  I think we had a pitcher of sangria and some sort of nibbles. To get to the park you enter the street level of the parking garage and take the elevator to the top.  There is no indication of the venue at the street level.

Also years ago we enjoyed our dinner at Casa do Alentejo , in our last trip we walked by and didn't go in which was a mistake because stopping at random restaurants did not result in a better meal. The building is dedicated to the Alentejan culture and has a nice tile interior.  As you can tell by the reviews the place is not fine dining, its the type of dining you would expect from a cultural club, basic good food from a specific region in Portugal.

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If the weather is good I'd opt for the garden at the Clube de Jornalistas. It is an old mansions with an especially lovely garden, an eclectic menu with some Brazilian influence. I had a wonderful moqueca dish that I still think about. I just checked their online menu and the dish is no longer but the garden and the other dishes and the history of the mansion make for a memorable evening.

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