We often complain that we can’t find a good moqueca outside the Brazilian state of Bahia. This Northeastern Brazilian coconut milk and palm oil stew is one of our all-time favorite dishes. So when we learned there was a restaurant in Lisbon specializing in Bahian specialties, Comida de Santo (Calçada Engenheiro Miguel Pais 39, 1200 Lisboa, Portugal) we thought we would give a foreign moqueca one last try. Thanks this visit, we were also introduced to the elegant Principe Real neighborhood, where we really enjoyed meandering around the architecturally-interesting streets full of boutiques and antique shops. The restaurant’s name means “food of the saints,” and had an extensive menu featuring food from Bahia and other parts of the Brazilian Northeast, a region of the county whose culture and cuisine has a heavy African influence, and is hard to get outside of Brazil.
The decor of the cozy restaurant is very cute, we immediately liked the colorful green mural with the armadillo (above), and the classic “namoradeira” woman statue in the window (below). Anyone who has been to Brazil will recognize this statue immediately, since she pops up everywhere. We stared with the standard couvert of bread and olives (€2 – bread and butter is not free with a meal in Portugal), as we perused the menu. We noticed that there were also a smattering dishes from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil, including Mineiran couve (collard greens), we were a little disappointed that there was no pão de queijo available, an essential Minas staple. We waffled among a few of the entrees, including pichanha steak (€18), Carne do Sol (€18) and the requisite bean and meat stew, feijoada (€16.50). However, we knew we had to try at least one moqueca, which came in fish, shrimp and vegetarian varieties. As is our tradition, we went with the shrimp (€20). M was also pleased to find one of his favorite dishes, Xin Xim da galinha (€16), a stew made with shredded chicken. The service, meanwhile, was friendly and efficient
We were pleased that the moqueca came out in a traditional stone dish and was bubbling: a very good sign. Moquecas typically come out with fixings; this one came with the classic farofa, rice, and malagueta sauce. We might have a likes a few more accompaniments like beans and vatapá. The moqueca itself was good, and had a generous amount of palm oil, but maybe needed a little more coconut milk. The xin xim was a hearty portion of shredded chicken with a smoky spiced flavor, and was a welcome and familiar dish we had not found much outside Brazil. The portions were extremely generous, which left us thinking that perhaps one portion was meant for two. Were we not so stuffed we might have made room for the quindim, a egg yolk pudding (€5). While our moqueca experience was perhaps not as transcendent as Axego in Salvador, Comida de Santo gave us heart that there can be hope for an international moqueca. Though we still need to find somewhere to get acaraje abroad!