1. Ode Port House (Porto)
The first dinner I experienced in Portugal was in Porto (the Port Capital of Portugal, and worldwide for that matter). This was one of the most charming restaurants of my entire trip. My host, Paolo, and the owner, Christofer, are old friends so Christofer joined us for dinner which was a true treat. What I loved about this gem was the beyond charming interior- you feel as if you’re in a very old, stone house (which you are) with exquisite antique furniture and immensely beautiful plates and glasses to match the level of stunning that the decor provides. The food was also incredible, as was the service! They really do not miss a thing at Ode Port House. Even if you have just one night in Porto, this is where I’d recommend you go for an unforgettable meal and experience. Largo do Terreiro 7, 4050-603 Porto, Portugal
2. Home cooked meal at my host Paolo’s Home
It’s quite rare while traveling that I have a local person in the town I’m visiting invite me into their home for dinner. While visiting Douro, Portugal’s legendary wine country region, Paolo and his wife, Isabel, invited me over for a traditional dinner. This was the most intimate and authentic night of the trip. It was a group of 5 and everything- from being greeted with a port chocolate gift to the traditional Cod Casserole we were served for dinner to the other classic Portuguese dishes- was incredible. We, of course, paired the home-cooked meal with delicious Porto and Douro Wines from the tasting I had just done during the day! We were able to enjoy various Porto Reccua table wines (that’s what non-ports are referred to in Portugal), and, best of all, the cheese dessert with Cristas de Galo (a local speciality cake with almonds, egg yoke, and “some” sugar). Of course, when in Port, you pair such a yummy dessert with Port itself. Would you believe we drank Port from both 30 years and 56 years ago that came from my host family’s Winery? What a night to remember!
3. Leopold Restaurant at The Belmonte Palacio
During my visit to Lisbon I was treated like a Princess. I split my time between two incredible hotels, The Belmonte Palacio (read about my stay here) and The Four Seasons Ritz Lisbon (it’s called the Ritz for historical reasons as it was originally The Ritz before The Four Seasons acquired it and the name retains it’s legacy!). I would say both are in the top 10 hotels in Lisbon. During the first night I stayed at the Belmonte Palacio and dined at Leopold’s, which had recently opened and is attached to the Palacio. This was an extremely intimate and unique dining experience. We had a Chef’s Tasting with 7 other guests and I loved the food, the gorgeous restaurant setting, and the specialness in being one of only seven people in the restaurant. It was a Monday night, which apparently are very quiet in Lisbon (I learned this is because almost all of the museums are closed on Mondays). Regardless, having this gorgeous new restaurant all to ourselves made the experience that much more over the top. I loved the exquisite presentation of each dish (see below), the care and thought that went into each ingredient, and the lovely experience I had with the other guests, The Chef, General Manager, and the Sommelier. Speaking of wine, I really related to the wine list as the white I enjoyed was a bit heavier with a nice subtle oak taste to it than some of the Douro Blends I had tasted. I also tried a red wine with a nice balance and fruity taste to it (a bit more fruit forward than the Douro Reds I had previously tasted) which I also really adored. Kudos to the Sommelier on his incredible wine list which paired perfectly with Chef Tiago Feio’ menu. Pátio de Dom Fradique 12, 1100-261 Lisboa, Portugal
The delicious white wine I enjoyed with the first course.
This bread was incredible. I could not get enough of it!
The seaweed and capers which was delicious on top of the home-made bread
A very interesting leaf covered with nuts in a delicious flavorful sauce. The presentation was as amazing as the taste!
The second wine I enjoyed which was a red wine from the Douro region. Stay tuned for my Douro Wine coverage on the blog!
The dessert which was presented to each guest in a vintage candy tin. Talk about an adorable presentation.
4. Weekend Brunch at The Four Seasons Ritz Lisbon
If you want to begin your arrival to Lisbon in style, I suggest starting with the weekend brunch at The Four Season’s Ritz Lisbon (read more here). When I told a local I was visiting for brunch they told me this was known as the best brunch in Lisbon- which after experiencing I can attest to. The brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 to 4:00 pm; It’s 49 Euro’s per person (for food, drinks are separate) and it’s well worth the price- it actually feels like it should be even more! There are various stations at the brunch, including 2-3 Chef Stations (rotating daily with various specials), such as, a Ceviche Bar, Dim Sum, and Ice Cream. Besides the Chef Stations there are 3-4 large tables with hot dishes, cold fishes, an incredible sushi spread, breads, and, of course, the grand slam, sweet pastries. I really wasn’t sure where to start so, strategically, I tried each station and concluded with the sweets. If you’re craving a full entrée such as pancakes or waffles, they also offer an a la carte menu (not included in the buffet). However, the buffet offers so much food you really don’t need to venture over to the A La Carte Menu. This really is an afternoon of leisure so allow plenty of time, order plenty of wine (or, in my case, Sparkling Rose by Perrier- Jouet), and enjoy yourself. R. Rodrigo da Fonseca 88, 1099-039 Lisboa, Portugal
5. Lunch in Douro’s Wine Country at Tasca da Quinta
During my visit to The Douro Valley, we went to town to experience what I was told was a customary Portuguese meal. It naturally involved lots of fish (as they eat a LOT of Fish in Portugal), bread, cheese, and don’t forget a great wine pairing. This was a family owned restaurant which is now run by one of the original family’s sons with 5-6 tables seating 15-17 guests at most. The charming interior and the meal, which I was told was a truly authentic home-style meal, was incredible. It was a bit cold, Portugal is chilly in December (unfortunately, I missed this memo and packed for 60+ degree Lisbon weather which is way warmer than Porto and Douro!). I started with a vegetable soup which was yummy and very comforting, then we had Pork Spare Ribs for the main course. For dessert, we had an Apple Tart paired with Port (of course) which was delicious to finish off the meal. I swear I don’t normally drink Port with every meal, but when in Rome……. Rua do Marquês de Pombal Nº 42, R/C, 5050-282 Peso da Régua, Portugal
6. En Suite Breakfast at The Belmonte Palacio
During my stay at the fabulous Belmonte Palacio, I enjoyed a lovely breakfast delivered to my private suite. It was incredible, the only thing missing was a beautiful sunny morning so I could enjoy the breakfast on my roof with spectacular views of the city. Regardless, this was a truly special breakfast where I felt like royalty while staying at the Belmonte Palacio. Read more about the Belmonte Palacio and my incredible stay at this one of a kind gem. Pátio de Dom Fradique 14, 1100-160 Lisboa, Portugal
The gorgeous tiles in my suite’s dining room
The delicious breakfast spread I thoroughly enjoyed.
The private roof terrace on top of my suite. Too bad it was cold and hazy during breakfast or I would have enjoyed my breakfast up here!
7. Cocktails & Dinner at Jose Avillez’s Mini Bar, Lisbon
When I asked the incredible Marketing & PR Associate at The Four Season’s Ritz Lisbon for her must try recommendation if I had only one restaurant outside of the hotel to experience, she suggested Mini Bar. Having tried it, I could not agree more. Mini Bar is set in a dark atmosphere, a sort of bar and restaurant hybrid with dark woods, deep velvet colors and fabrics, and a vibe that makes you never want to leave… I ate solo at the bar, one of my favorite things to do when traveling alone, and I loved the visit. Not only did I have a front row seat to watch the premier mixologists make incredible drinks, but I was also able to take in the full experience of the restaurant’s scene. I arrived on the early side (Lisbon is a late city) so most people don’t eat around 7 or 7:30 like I did (with the jetlag my entire schedule was a mess), but, despite that, I was blown away by the visit. I started with a Margarita bite which was meant to be a take on the traditional, well-known cocktail. Wow, this was the coolest food/drink combination I have ever had. Next I went with a Gin Cocktail which had a light layer of foam and a great, light citrusy taste to it. Following the cocktails, I decided to try various bites. The Mini Bar concept is meant to be like a theatre show with various courses laid out. I started with the fried chicken with incredible dipping sauces, then the JAB burger combined with the roasted chicken skin with cottage cheese, piri piri chili and lemon. I also enjoyed the Scallops in a delicious creamy sauce. As evident this is a culinary and cocktail spot not to be missed in Lisbon. R. António Maria Cardoso 58, 1200-026 Lisboa, Portugal
8. Cafe Lisboa by Chef Avillez, Lisbon
During my daytime exploration of Lisbon, I stumbled upon the Opera Square where I had been told Café Lisboa was located. This is another of Chef Jose Avillez’s restaurants which I was dying to try. It has a more casual vibe to it with a fairly simple, lite, and easy menu that simultaneously felt very authentic. This amazing restaurant by adored Chef Jose Avillez is the perfect spot for a bite or glass of wine while really immersing yourself in this beautiful city, the lively scene, and the ever delicious food. Largo de São Carlos 23, 1200-026 Lisboa, Portugal
The patio where I enjoyed my lovely lunch
The beautiful restaurant interior. It is truly stunning!
The very traditional fried pork croquettes I was told I had to try. I really enjoyed them, and recommend them with some mustard on the side.
9. Cantinho Do Avillez Chef Avillez, Porto
During my last night in Porto I had the pleasure of visiting Chef Avillez’s Cantinho Do Avillez. I was expecting this to be very low-key and simple, especially after having had experienced Mini Bar in Lisbon which is Chef Avillez’s newest, coolest, most inventive conceptual eatery. I was pleasantly surprised with the simple, yet flavorful food at Cantinho, and also with the charming, cozy vibe of this neighborhood gem. R. de Mouzinho da Silveira 166, 4000-030 Porto, Portugal
10. Manteigaria a Classic Portuguese sweet, Lisbon
An essential sweet treat in Portugal are these Manteigara pastries. I had the pastries in both Lisbon and Porto and they’re so delicious. Manteigaria is known as the best pastry shop in Portugal, so be sure to visit when you’re in Lisbon. It’s quite a small space, so plan to grab a pastry and a coffee and stand in the shop or stroll around the city- there’s a nice open park just across the street. Rua do Loreto 2, 1200-108 Lisboa, Portugal
Thank you for the various Restaurants who hosted my visits while exploring Lisbon’s amazing culinary and wine scene. I loved all of my experiences and can not wait to return again soon!