Tag Archives: Lisbon

Late night bites at Kaffeehaus in Lisbon

austriaThere are Austrian cafes dotting Lisbon, including one of our Lisbon favorites, Pois, café. We had heard there was another Austrian coffeehouse in town, Kaffeehaus (Rua Anchieta 3, 1200-023 Lisboa, Portugal) and after a late night exploring Chiado we decided to stop in. We were not sure what to make of Kaffeehaus, it is part restaurant part bar and part cafe, and we saw people enjoying it for all of these purposes when we popped in at about 9 PM. We kind of like the multipurpose bar/cafe/hangout aspect, something more uncommon in the USA, I think. It is even dog friendly!


The beverage menu was quite prolific, featuring Austrian coffee drinks and custom lemonades as well as a large beer and wine list. We appreciate the large and unique selection of nonalcoholic beverages including tea, special Austrian carbonated juices and fresh lemonade. M ordered a unique hot chocolate drink from Austria which came with a bar of chocolate and a cup of hot milk which you have to mix in using a little frother. L ordered a fizzy ginger lemonade (one among many homemade lemonade varieties).


There was also a case with about a half dozen attractive looking cakes included strudels, fruit tarts and the popular-in-Lisbon meringues. Though we were almost tempted away by Apfelstrüdel, we went with the classic chocolate Linzertorte and the Austrian cheesecake, Käsekuche. The Linzertorte was good and chocolatey but the kasekuche was a real standout, with a totally unique texture that was more like bread or cake than a creamy New York style cheesecake. If you are feeling munchies, there is also full lunch and dinner menu with Austrian favorites like Spätzle, and brunch on the weekends. Kaffeehaus is a great place to relax at any time of the day, no matter what mood you are in, and you can even bring your dog.


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A view of Lisbon at Noobai Cafe

portugalWe were enjoying a coffee at the quiosque by the Santa Catarina Miradouro, a classic Portuguese lookout point, when we noticed Noobai (Rua de Santa Catarina, 2715-311 Lisboa, Portugal), a location with an even BETTER view. We knew we had to get there on our next visit to the area. Noobai has two tiers of terraces, so obviously the best time to visit is on a nice day (or night – Noobai is open most days noon until 10 PM or later on weekends). However, even if you are not lucky enough to be in the area on a sunny day, there is also indoor seating and a retractable tarp cover on the lower balcony. We ended up visiting Noobai on a day with patchy rain so we were grateful for the tarp – we stayed dry.


The menu at Noobai is pretty diverse, in the quiosque model, focusing on coffee drinks and fresh-squeezed juices including papaya and pineapple. There are also plenty of sandwiches and more substantial options like Thai noodles or a hamburger (more and more popular in Lisbon). They also have brunch, another American import that is starting to catch on in Lisbon. The small  “Vitamin brunch” was billed as yogurt, granola and fresh fruit, accompanied by a peanut and chocolate cookie. Check out the size of the yogurt we got – it seems like there was at least a pound! We were not expecting the giant size (€8.50) so unless you are super hungry maybe consider splitting one. There is also an “Energy brunch” with eggs, salmon and bacon for the heartier appetite.
Noobai is a modern version of a quiosque, and it is a perfect place to while away the afternoon, with either a full meal or just a drink. We enjoyed our mint and pineapple juice as we watched the boats and construction on the Tagus river. Set right in the side of the hill, you get a view of Lisbon that is second to none. Even if it raining, you can enjoy yourself.

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Portuguese Biscuit Letterpress Notebook by Serrote

CookieNotebookportugalWe adore this letterpress biscuit/cracker/cookie (somewhat lost in translation) notebook from Portuguese design shop Serrote. We bought ours at the A Vida Portuguesa kiosk inside the Ribeira Market (post coming soon), and you can buy it online at A Vida Portuguesa as well.

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Pastry Post-Doc in Portugal: Saboia

When we first read Fabrico Proprio, we were particularly intrigued by the saboia cake. It almost looked cartoonish, what with the striking brown polka dots on white background. The saboia is made of the trimmings of other chocolate cakes cut into a thin outer layer and jaunty polka dots, and filled in with whipped cream. Apparently, the saboia used to be popular in the 1940s, but is now sold in very few stores in Lisbon, in fact it may only be one, Central da Baixa (Rua Áurea 94, Lisbon). Like the saboia, this cafe is a holdover from an earlier time, somewhere between the present day and the elegant Manueline architecture. The saboia was super rich, and the chocolate cake parts had a fudgy consistency. This is definitely a special occasion cake. Even more intriguingly, I haven’t found a single recipe for this complicated cake online.Saboia

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Guide to Old-School beverages at Lisbon’s Quiosques de Refresco

portugalWe previously wrote a post about Quiosques, small cafe kiosks located in city squares, and their awesome prevalence throughout Lisbon. Today, we are going to give you a guide to a special breed of quiosque – the Quiosque de Refresco (refreshment kiosk). The quiosque de refrecos is the brainchild of Catarina Portas, proprietor of the store A Vida Portuguesa, who wanted the revive the quiosques in Lisbon, and their old school drinks. The project was extremely successful, and the Quiosque de Refresco is something of a chain now with five locations throughout Lisbon. We were shocked to learn that there was no quiosque (in the recent past) in the bustling Praça Luís de Camões (below) until the Quiosque de Refresco appeared in 2009. Doesn’t it seem like it had been there forever?

Praça Luís de Camões

Praça Luís de Camões

What makes these quiosques so unique, despite being cool places to while away the time, is that they sell old-school drinks that originated in the mid-20th century or earlier. So what kinds of drinks can you get at a refreshment quiosque? The drink options are written on a little hanging chalkboard, pictured below, and include both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Seem confusing? Never fear, I will walk you through all of the options on the menu pictured below.


Leite Perfumado – I ordered what I thought was a Spanish horchata, turns out it was actually a leite perfumado. This drink, which translates to “perfumed milk,” is milk steeped with sugar, cinnamon, and lemon, which gave it a chai-like flavor. Even though it is made with UHT (boxed) milk, which I normally do not like – I thought it was great! This drink is served cold.

Leite Perfumado

Leite Perfumado

Mazargan – This is a classic drink made from coffee, sugar and lemon. The Portuguese are big coffee experts, and this storied coffee drink has quite an interesting history, and bears the name of a town in Algeria. Served cold, this drink is sweet and refreshing and good for a midday caffeine boost.

Limonada/oranjada– Perhaps the most familiar option, these are fizzy lemon or orange drinks, much like a San Pellegrino fizzy beverage. These crisp drinks are definitely great for a warm day, or for kids.


Capilé, pre-mixing

Xarope (Syrup) drinks – These drinks came in a variety flavors, and are served with a small amount of sugar syrup in a cup, and you then mix in a small bottle of still water. Two of the most iconic and unique syrups are the groselha and the capilé. These drinks were somewhere between a juice and Kool-Aid in taste, but not super sweet. The flavor Groselha is within my realm of knowledge – red currant. However, capilé was something else entirely – not that it doesn’t even have a translation on the menu – fern! We really enjoyed the Capilé, which had a sweet grassy flavor similar to green tea. Other syrups available included: chá verde/green tea, erva principe/lemongrass, tonilho-limão/thyme-lemon and the simple limão/lemon.


A mixed Groselha syrup drink


Vino quente– We were there during the winter, this drink was basically flying out of the quiosque. Vino quente is literally translated as”hot wine,” and is basically a mulled wine (usually Madeira or Port) with spices. Perfect for a cold night.

Grogue – For some reason we had this drink mixed up in our head with the Swedish drink glögg, which is actually more akin to the vino quente above. However, we did find a description of what makes us a grogue from the Quiosque site:

O nosso Grogue mistura aguardente velha, água, sumo de limão e mel, é servido bem quente e deve ser bebido de um trago. Sem medos! Which translates to: Our Grog mixes old brandy, water, lemon juice and honey, is served hot and should be drunk in one gulp. No fear!

Praça do Príncipe Real

Quiosque in Praça do Príncipe Real

So there you have it! Now you know exactly how to decipher the menu, and find your new favorite Portuguese drink. We also suspect these drinks may change with the season…mulled wine may not be suitable for a hot summer day. If you are in Lisbon, the quiosque de refresco is a great slice of history, and it fun to seek out all of the different quiosques across town. If you go, let us know what you order!

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Chocolataria Equador: Portuguese chocolates with style


We are going to NYC this weekend, home of one of our favorite chocolate purveyors, Mast Brothers (shop located at 111 N 3rd St, Brooklyn, NY, though you can get the bars elsewhere). Along with having superlative chocolate, we appreciate Mast Brothers’ attention to detail with the clean, simple packaging with interesting papers. While in Lisbon, we came across a store that reminded us a lot of the Mast Brothers’ aesthetic, Chocolataria Equador (Rua da Misericórdia 72, Lisboa). Located in the Chiado district in central Lisbon (with another location in Porto), this elegant and minimalist Portuguese store sells dark, milk and white chocolate bars with flavors including sea salt, port wine, crispy rice and hazelnut, as well as pure bars without any add-ins. The the chocolate is from around the world, but the bars are handmade in Portugal, with beautiful packaging. Though a little pricey, the chocolate bars came in a variety of sizes for appetites big and small. We sampled an 80% single origin bar – which was phenomenal – perfect for those who like their chocolate to be intense. Inside the shop, there is also a counter with beautifully-decorated truffles and other tidbits for a sweet tooth, including a riff on the iconic-in-Portugal chocolate umbrella. Chocolataria Equador is definitely a must-visit for any chocolate (or design) lover in Lisbon.

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Pastry Post-doc in Portugal: Escangalhado

CrazyPastryportugalThe name of this pastry says it all. In Portuguese, escangalhado means “messed up” and this pastry is basically a chaotic creation, made up of puff pastry and egg yolk cream. The bottom layer is merely a square layer of puff pastry, on top there is a huge dollop of cream onto which tons of puff pastry shards are stuck, all topped with a flurry of powdered sugar. There is no elegant way to eat this treat. We basically used the puff pastry as chips to scoop up the cream. We saw this special treat at only one location in Lisbon, one of our favorite bakeries, Pastelaria 1800 (Largo do Rato 7, Lisbon, Portugal). Have you ever seen it anywhere else?

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Cake tour of Lisbon

portugalBeing the Portuguese pastry fans we are, we were excited to meet up with one of the masterminds behind the indispensable Portuguese patry guidebook, Fabrico Próprio, Frederico Duarte, for a cake tour. Frederico was generous enough to show us around the city to some hidden bakery gems of Lisbon. While we had previously visited the big names like Versailles and Confeitaria Nacional, Frederico helped us uncover yet another layer of sugary, pastry goodness in Lisbon.PacoRealWe first visited Cafe Paço Real (Rua da Conceição 55) an understated cafe with a full savory menu in addition to the bakery counter, in the heart of Baixa. When you walk in, you will notice one feature immediately: there is an azulejo mural of the ubiquitous Portuguese statesman Marques de Pombal on the wall. However, we were most drawn by the wide variety of pastries on display in the street-facing windows, which Frederico told us was more traditional in bakeries of the north, something we had not noticed to this point. We tried the specialty of the house – a unique treat for us – the rocha (“rock” in Portuguese). These little cakes do indeed have a somewhat craggy appearance, but the texture was almost like a banana bread, unlike a sponge cake or puff pastry. It was cakey, not too sweet, and contained bits of citrus peel and more than a hint of cinnamon. This was a different type of pastry and was a nice change from sugar and egg yolks.
RochaThe next stop on the cake tour was another old school cafe in Baixa that Frederico was familiar with: Cafouro (Rua do Ouro 177), usually spotted by its triangular “Tofa” brand coffee signs. There, Frederico recommended that we try a geladinho, a coffee-flavored version of the Indiano pastry in Fabrico Próprio. This pastry was composed of two layers of cake, split in the middle and filled with a coffee pastry cream and a shiny coffee glaze. The pastry was moist and delicious, and we appreciated the unique coffee flavor, not especially common in traditional Portuguese pastries. Like Paço Real, we definitely appreciated the down-to-earth vibe of Cafouro.
GeladinhaNext, we took the iconic #28 yellow tram up to the School of Hospitality and Tourism of Lisbon, located in Campo de Ourique, in the historic Palácio dos Condes de Paraty. Here, we got a glimpse of future pastry chefs hard at work in the teaching kitchen. Frederico also told us about the techniques manual that you can now buy along with Fabrico Próprio, which makes sense since so many people were intrigued to try the recipes behind the desserts in the book. However, due to the semi-industrial nature of most Portuguese baking, these pastries are not generally meant for a home cook (rats!). Still, we hope to try our hand at making them someday.
WheatTileAround a nondescript corner we came upon a truly old school cafe, Panificaçao Mecânica (Rua Silva Carvalho 209), our final stop on the cake tour. This was by far the most unusual stop on the tour, a pastry shop crossed with a breadmaker. The opulent setting was the highlight of the cafe, with two large crystal chandeliers and two types of Bordallo Pinheiro azulejos with wheat motifs (seen above and below). We not-so-secretly covet these azulejos for a future kitchen.


The inside was straight art nouveau, with some anachronistic 1950s plastic-y touches. They had a variety of traditional pastries as well as a wall of breads and an unusual streusel from the Alentejo region. We ordered a new-to-us type of cookie, called a Húngaro (yes, after the country Hungary), and a passable Pastel de Nata. The Húngaros were two sugar cookies joined with cherry jelly and coated in chocolate. Another showpiece of the cafe were the bolinhos de Algarve, little marzipan cakes in the shape of fruit, which reminded us of some of the marzipan candies we had seen in Sicily and Naples.


We finished up at one of our favorite Pastelarias for a superlative Pastel de Nata, Pasteleria 1800 (Largo do Rato 7), brightly decorated with yellow, blue and white azulejos. Though not officially on the cake tour, we were excited to return to one of our favorites before parting ways with Frederico. The cake tour was certainly one of our Lisbon trip highlights. We visited bakeries we would have never noticed, thanks to Frederico’s guidance, and gained an even greater appreciation for the world of Portuguese pastries. Thanks so much for showing us around town, Frederico!WheatTile2

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Portuguese Pastry Post-doc: Bola de Berlim

BerlimportugalIch bin ein bola de Berlim. Yep, this is an offshoot of the Berliner, the classic German jelly donut. The Bola de Berlim is popular throughout Lisbon, and is a basically a fried donut split and filled with yellow egg yolk-based cream found in many Portuguese pastries, creme pasteleiro. However, we have also seen them filled with chocolate cream, occasionally. The regular and mini-sized classic BdB above are from the Padaria Portuguesa bakery chain, though you can get them pretty much anywhere pastries are sold in Lisbon. M liked these as a Portuguese replacement fix for his beloved American donut (though we saw some bizarre prepackaged versions of “American donuts” in the supermarket as well). You can even make Bola de Berlim of your own at home.

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The best roast chicken in Lisbon: Frangasqueira Nacional

portugalOur noses led us to the Frangasqueira Nacional (Rua da Imprensa Nacional 117, Lisbon, Portugal). We were on our way to another restaurant in the area when we smelled the delicious roast chicken and spotted the tiny shop down the travessa. We knew we absolutely had to return, so we stopped in a few days later. Though the name is a tongue twister, don’t be intimidated – it just means “national chicken shop.” True to form, all they sell are ribs, sausage and the piece de resistance: roast chickens! Though everything looks great, obviously you are here for the chicken.

Frangasqueira Nacional

Frangasqueira Nacional

This is a take-out-only shop and 2/3rds of the store is given over to a giant charcoal grill with an expert griller manning it. When we popped in on a rainy night, the entire grill was full of spatchcocked chickens with various stages of char, and a small line of hungry Lisboetas. Everything in the shop is sold by weight (chicken is €16 a kilo), along with a small selection of extras including fries, rice, tomato salad, chocolate cake, and a refrigerator of cold drinks and beer. You can get your chicken plain, or with spicy piri piri sauce, which was billed to us as only a little hot (don’t worry it isn’t too hot at all). They are crazy about piri piri in Portugal, a sauce made from malagueta peppers, citrus, lemon and garlic. The non piri piri chicken baste was also flavorful, with a hearty helping of salt and garlic.

Frangasqueira Nacional

Grillmaster at Frangasqueira Nacional

A blackboard informed us that a chicken was usually about 3/4th of a kilo, so over 1.5 pounds, which we figured was more than plenty for the two of us. As you can see, unlike in the US, these chickens appeared to be of a normal size. With a side of rice, our whole meal clocked in at less than €12. Don’t worry about having to cart home an unwieldy bird: the grillmaster had a huge pair of scissors with which he cut the chicken into about 8 pieces expertly and efficiently. This seemed like the perfect size for us, but if you would prefer a sampler, there are a variety of deals where you can get a combination of meats for well less than €10.

Frangasqueira Nacional

Chicken’s ready!

There is no place to sit inside the shop, but if the weather is nice, a perfect place in would be in the elegant Príncipe Real garden, which is only a few block away and has an awesome quiosque. We opted to take ours home, where it fed us for 2 meals! Even after a half hour subway ride home: the chicken was delicious, juicy with a crispy skin. It was amazing and certainly one of the best roast chickens we have ever had! We are so happy we found the Franguesqueira, it has become one of our go-to Lisbon places. If you are in the mood for a good, cheap and comforting meal, we can’t think of a better deal in the city.

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Mozambique in Lisbon: Cantinho do Aziz

Restaurante Cantinho do Aziz
Rua das Fontaínhas de São Lourenço 5
Lisbon, Portugal


If you’re looking for fantastic Portuguese food, Lisbon is the place. But Lisbon is also an excellent one-stop option if you are looking from food from other Portuguese-speaking countries. In previous visits to Lisbon we have sampled Cape Verdean, Angolan, and Goan (Indian) cuisine, but Cantinho do Aziz was our first experience with Mozambican food. We had heard nothing but good things about Cantinho do Aziz, so were excited to check it out. Be forewarned: the place is a little hard to find, located on a narrow street in the old, labyrinthine Mouraria district of Lisbon, up flights of stairs from the Martim Moniz Largo, a hotbed of Indian and African shops and culture. You have found your destination


In the middle of winter, Cantinho do Aziz, seems to be a small restaurant. Tucked away in the building shown above, Aziz, the amiable and gregarious owner, would later assure us that during the warmer months hundreds of people dine here each evening, in the huge outdoor seating area that was currently closed, listening to Mozambican and Cape Verdean music while they enjoyed their meals. Indeed, if we ever come back we will surely eat outside; but even so, the Aziz’s menu had a ton of delicious-sounding options, many of which were totally new to us. Aziz was more than happy to guide us through the menu and tell us about the restaurant, which had been on the same site for decades. Aziz recommened the charmussas (€1) to start, a word related to the Indian samosa – a cognate that should already clue in diners to the fascinating history of cultural exchange in the Indian Ocean that infuses Mozambican cuisine. Indeed, we ordered two charmussas, one vegetarian and one beef, and in biting into his, M stated that it “tastes like the Indian Ocean.” Being a fire-breather, he was also a huge fan of the potent and flavorful habanero pepper sauce that accompanied the charmussas.


For entrees, we went with the Zambezi chicken (named for the river that flows to the Indian Ocean through central Mozambique) and the makoufe. The Zambezi chicken (€5) was similar to the roast chicken we had at the Angolan restaurant Moamba and featured a charred, flavorful skin. The makoufe (€9), voted the best dish in Lisbon by Time Out magazine in 2013, was the more complex option and definitely lived up to its billing. Reminding us of a Brazilian moqueca, makoufe stews generous portions of crab, shrimp and greens together with palm oil and coconut milk. Both dishes were delicious and heavily spiced (but not spicy). We were also impressed by the number of vegetarian dishes and appetizers on offer. The Cantinho drew a diverse crowd, and Aziz noted that it was even a popular lunch spot for workers from the American embassy. We can easily see why – we ate like kings for less than €20!


Though we were pretty full, we could not resist getting some dessert – cashew fruit mousse. We first encountered the cashew fruit (yep, where the nut comes from) in Brazil, and were perplexed by its sweet cross of citrus, papaya and nut flavors. It stood up pretty well in mousse, too!


Mozambican cuisine was definitely a unique combination of global influences we had never tasted before, and Cantinho do Aziz was the perfect place to try it. We were blown away by the tastiness, quality and low prices at Cantinho do Aziz. It is the perfect, friendly local option for fans of any cuisine. We hope to go back someday in nice weather to eat outside!
Cantinho do Aziz

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Lisbon, a city of quiosques

portugalQuiosque stampOne of the classic sights in Lisbon is seeing an elaborate beverage and snack stand in the center of a plaza or at the edge of a park. Now these are not modern, boxy newsstand-type places, these are cool, ornate turn-of-last-century (or earlier) ironwork masterpieces called quiosques (kiosks). Quiosques typically serve an array of snacks, coffee drinks, juices, and alcoholic beverages. Typically outfitted with metal tables and chairs, you can lounge for as long as you like: indeed, quiosques remain popular day or night. One feature we particularly love is that some quiosques have baskets full of blankets for customers to use if it get chilly. Since the quiosques are open well into the night, this can definitely come in handy. If you want some munchies with your drink, you can also get pasteis de nata, fried snacks like bacalhau fritters, and simple sandwiches. Quiosques are found throughout town, and have become one of the iconic symbols of Portugal, even appearing on postage stamps (at right). Though quiosques dot the entire city, one of the most popular cafes is located in the center of the Praça de Luís de Camões in the Chiado district, where you can really be in the heart of it all.
QuiosqueSaoRoqueSome quiosques – called “quiosques de refresco” – even specialize in traditional beverages like the rarer mazagran, an iced coffee mixed with rum. Though quiosques are usually classic in design and menu, there are a few outliers, including the Bananacafe quiosque in Belem that is located in a refurbished yellow tram; and the bright red Soundwich cafe in Cais do Sodre that serves gourmet sandwiches (below) with an eclectic soundtrack. Other updated quiosques are found in the parkway of the main thoroughfare Aveneida Liberdade.
Quiosques are also usually located in Lisbon parks with views called miradouros (literally “golden views”), which adds another wonderful element of relaxation to the quiosque experience. Enjoy your bica (strong Portuguese coffee) with a view. One of our favorite miradouro quiosques is in the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara where you can get a good cappuccino and a cheese, prosciutto and arugula sandwich on French bread along with your view of the city below (see below). Though quiosques have been an integral part of the city forever, they have been experiencing a major revival in the past 5 or so years. We can definitely see why Lisboetas are flocking back to the quiosques. We have found that there is nothing more relaxing than sitting back with a coffee and watching the world go by.


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Lisbon Gastronomic Tour 2k15

Chique Pasteis

Back to the land of Pasteis de Nata

portugalWe are excited to be back in Lisbon, Portugal, one of our favorite culinary locations! One of our ETW team members has been in Lisbon for a week and has already indulged in the chouriço, cheese, olives, and our favorite: the pastel de nata (Portuguese egg tart), among other delights. However, now the second member of the ETW team is here – so the gastronomic adventures can really begin. Most importantly, how do our ratings for the best pasteis de nata in Lisbon hold up in 2015?

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A Taste of India in Portugal: Popat Store

Popat Store
Centro Commerical Mouraria
Lisbon, Portugal

India Flag

We love cooking with Indian flavors back in Chicago, but we figured that we would not be able to find Indian spices in Lisbon – but we were wrong! Right in the heart of Lisbon, and accessible from the Martim Moniz metro stop is the Popat Store, a small Indian grocery store which will warm the hearts of any Indian food lover. You don’t even need to exit the metro station to find Popat Store, just follow the signs in the labyrinthine Martim Metro stop to the Centro Commerical Mouraria – which is even a more labyrinthine shopping mall of international delights.


Popat store caters to those who want to cook from scratch, as well as those who would reheat frozen samosas. There are pre-packaged spice blends starting from just one euro, including a masala spice blend and tandoori spice rub. You can get bottled sauces for a few euros more, as well as coconut milk and other canned goods imported from India. For those wanting to make their own blend, you can also find fresh lemongrass, and every kind of spice in dried or powdered form. In addition, you can find over a dozen varieties of rice and all different kinds of grain in bulk.


There is also a small fresh market in the front of the store with okra, tomatoes, Piri Piri and Habanero peppers. The coup d’etat however was that they had peanut butter! Peanut butter is particularly rare in Europe, and if you find any it is bound to come in a very small jar and to be particularly expensive. However, Popat Store’s variety was a huge jar of delicious natural peanut butter (which appeared to be imported from Amsterdam) for less than 3€. We bought some garlic naan, tandoori spice mix and peanut butter. After a visit to Popat Store, our kitchen was really starting to feel like home.


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Pastry Post-Doc in Austria/Portugal: Pois, Café

Pois, Café
Rua de São João da Praça 95
Lisbon, Portugal

Pois, Café sits nestled in a weathered stone building amongst Alfama’s small, hilly alleyways east of downtown Lisbon. One of the best cafes in a city overrun with them, its Austrian owners have managed to cultivate a niche with great sandwiches, even better Austrian cake selections, and a global influence. The broad selection is definitely appealing, particularly in contrast to a classic Lisboeta café. Moreover, it is a just a cool place to hang out. Pois, Café’s cavernous old interior is marked by stone arches, washed to a sunny white. Decorating the interior are a veritable crossroads of international books – mostly novels and travel guides –  all left by patrons over the years. You can sit and enjoy great food in a relaxing atmosphere while reading travel guides to places you never considered traveling to (Israel? Why not?). The cafe’s name tells you that you should: it is a riff on “Pois, é” a common northeastern Brazilian Portuguese expression meaning “Yeah” or “Of course.”


Pois Café features a standard menu at as well as a rotating slate  of specials. The main offerings are various sandwiches, tostas and wraps with international flair ranging from 6 to 10 euros. There are other light dishes, (quiches seem to be a big favorite). Pois Café is mainly a breakfast and lunch place and  they also offer a nice brunch with pastries, yogurt, juice, muesli for less than 10 euros. For our lunch we had a Mozart sandwich (prosciutto, balsamic vinegar and arugula) as well as an Ilha sandwich (seen below – with a duo of Azorean cheeses, pear and paprika); both were around 7 Euros. The sandwiches were both delicious and fresh, and we enjoyed the unique flavor combos.


After finishing our meal, our attention quickly turned to the shiny glass case at the back of the restaurant, packed with Austrian cakes and sweets. At 4 euros per slice the price seemed high, but then again there is very little that can come  between us and a pastry. The cakes looked delicious  and we couldn’t resist after our chocolate cake cravings, especially given the general Portuguese lack of chocolate desserts. With a little influence from our server’s recommendations and a little more from our discerning eyes, we ordered the Tarte Russe (seen below), a cake with a chocolate base layer topped with a light lemon-flavored cream. For contrast, we also got a slice of passionfruit cheesecake. While very tasty, the cheesecake was a little light for those of you looking for a New York style cheesecake. But the Tarte Russe was a delightful bit of chocolate heaven. Pois Café definitely invites you to linger and it seems to have gained a strong following from the international community, tourists and locals alike. The restaurant is an absolute gem, and is definitely one of our favorite places for lunch in Lisbon.


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Portuguese Pastry Post-Doc: Croissants at Pastelaria Benard

While the French are known for impossibly delicate and flaky pastries, the Portuguese prefer denser eggy and sugary cakes. The Portuguese take on the croissant is much the same. We heard that Pastelaria Benard had a reputation for the best croissants in Lisbon we were eager to try them (though we did not know what difference a Portuguese croissant would have in store for us). Pastelaria Benard (Rua Garret 104) is located right off of Largo Camões in the heart of Lisbon’s atmospheric Bairro Alto, right next to A Brasileira, one of Lisbon’s most internationally famous cafes. Benard, though less touristy, is just as antique, and practically exudes history.

 Croissants at Pastelaria Benard

In the old Pastelaria there is an entire shelf of croissants that are piping hot – fresh out of the oven – so we figured we were in for a treat. However, we were a little confused upon first bite. Yes, these so-called croissants were quite good, but nothing like the classic French croissant we have come to know and love. In this rendition, the dough is cakey and rich like a brioche, not flaky at all! At first we thought we perhaps ordered wrong – but they had given us two straight off of the “croissant shelf.” Though the alleged “croissant” was good in its own right, we are surprised the Portuguese have not given this confection another name, especially since the Portuguese have such creative names for their sweets. However, we have also seen French-style croissants in Lisbon also being called by the croissant moniker (or at least they appeared flakier than this). Very confusing! So be warned, pastry-philes looking for a croissant in Lisbon – you could be ordering a different treat altogether!

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The Best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon

Much to our surprise, our study of the Best Macarons in Paris continues to be one of the most popular 0n the internet. But we’ve taken a bit of criticism because of our small sample size – since we only had an afternoon, we had to prioritize with the two most popular locations (apparently we should have also gone to Gerard Mulot).

Yet as of today, our last day in Lisbon, we have been in this beautiful city for over two months. L has been tirelessly working on an exhaustive study of Portuguese pastries that would make the authors of Fabrico Próprio sit in awe (though we bought their fabulous book anyway!). We have been to scores and scores of Portuguese pastelarias, in every area of the city, and at this point may be some of the best experts in Portuguese pastries on either side of the Atlantic. And at every Lisboeta pastelaria, we have sampled their offering of Portugal’s most famous and emblematic sweet: the pastel de nata (or pastel de Belém), a small egg-tart pastry originating, so the story goes, with 18th century monks at  Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon’s Belém district and now produced throughout the lusophone world. Every street in Lisbon has at least three pastelarias, and every one makes pastéis de nata. We have eaten a lot of pastéis de nata during our time in Portugal and in our time here, combining exhaustive taste testing and testing again, we have concluded what we think is the best pastel de nata in town. There was, obviously, no shortage of contenders  but we settled on a ranking after several visits to each place. Surely, there are as many opinions on pastéis as there are pastelarias in Lisbon. However, we think you will have a successful pastel experience if you try these locations.

Pasteis de Nata

Pastéis de Nata in the Wild

The Ground Rules:

1. We only included pastelarias that were “Fabrico Próprio,”meaning the pastries were made in house. Any pastelaria worth its weight in egg cream will make its pastries on site, and the ones that do always say “FABRICO PROPRIO” on their sign. If you are visiting a pastelaria that does not say that, just move on, because you will be wasting your money.
2. Only classic pastéis count in this ranking. We needed a 1 to 1 comparison, so no fillings, fruit flavors, mini or giant size, etc. (Although try the pastel de chocolate at Versailles – great!)
3. Rankings are based on custards, crust, caramelization and overall appearance. Most pastéis were of a similar size and cost between 1-1.3€ so we did not include price as a factor.
4. A good tasting does not move you to the top of the ranking, but one bad one knocks you off. If we had a bad experience somewhere, we did not return: with so many in Lisbon, the best place should not be making any errors. If we had a good experience, we were sure to return at least once to test for consistency. Our top three finishers each got no less than three taste tests.

The Rest:

A caveat: we urge everyone who visits Lisbon to try as many pastéis as you can and form your own opinions. It’s really fun! And definitely not damaging to the pocketbook. But for us, so many pastelarias did not make the cut for the top three, and we did not include them in our final ranking. Some were flavorless or too eggy, some were burnt, had too thick a crust, or too thin (a major deal-breaker is when you bit into a pastel and the whole crust goes with it – you should be able to take out a single section of cream and crust in one bite). Among the most famous to be cut were the Confeitaria Nacional and, gasp, the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém. The Antiga Confeitaria is far and away the most famous place to grab a pastel in Lisbon, and every guidebook will direct you there. Lines are always out the door, and the inside seats hundreds and hundreds of people, all eating pastéis. But you can see the problem already: quality control. Wild inconsistency plagued the Antiga Confeitaria, even in the same batch of four: some were burnt, some were soggy, and some were underdone. With that, we give you our top three choices for the best pastéis in Lisbon.

Our Top Three Pastéis de Nata in Lisbon

3. Pastelaria Aloma
Rua Francisco Metrass, 67

Aloma Pasteis

Pastelaria Aloma is a small neighborhood pastelaria northwest of Bairro Alto, which wandered under everyone’s radar until, in 2012, it won the competition for best pastel in Lisbon. In a hilarious and welcome moment of fame capitalization they changed their website’s url to omelhorpasteldenatadelisboa.com (literally, TheBestPasteldeNataInLisbon.com), and plastered the new url all over their small store and delivery trucks. Quite off the beaten path, it takes some searching to find the place, but we were happy to see their quality control has not suffered as a result of their fame (they remain busy, but not crowded). We found the crust to be well-made, the filling very tasty, but the crust’s browning was inconsistent enough as to affect the flavor on one of our pastéis, bringing them to number 3.

2. Pastelaria Versailles
Avenida da República, 15
Versailles Pasteis

Pastelaria Versailles, conveniently located immediately above the Avenida da República exit at the Saldanha metro station, is a charming, old-world style (almost Parisian) cafe offering a wide variety of freshly-made pastries, as well as sandwiches and tea served by a jovial waitstaff that make this a great lunch spot, one of our favorites in Lisbon. As far as we can tell, pastéis de nata are not one of their specialties, and they have not appeared on any major rankings. But we found their pastéis to be magnificant examples: a perfect crust, with a delectable egg cream whose flavor we found to be second only to our overall winner. (And once again, if you go here, try to pastel de chocolate – a variation of the traditional pastel but with chocolate filling, a variety we saw almost nowhere else!)


1. Chique de Belém
Rua da Junqueira, 524

Chique PasteisIn the end, this was not even close. If you visit Lisbon you will, at some point, find yourself admiring the architectural wonders of the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém. You will walk east on Rua da Junqueira, with the crowds, toward the front of the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém and you should, in our humble opinion, keep on walking. A few blocks further is the small, utterly charming, and fantastic Chique de Belém, easily our vote for the best pastel in Lisbon. Perfectly textured, elegantly flavored egg cream inside a crust with just the right balance of flakiness and support make this our go-to place for pastéis in Lisbon. In three visits and six samples we were shocked by the consistency of their output. Even better? Their outdoor seating area, right on the sidewalk, offers a view of Belém’s parks, where you can relax while the servers bring you the pastries of your choosing. And of course, you picked the pastéis.


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Roast Chestnuts herald the arrival of Winter in Lisbon

One sure sign that fall has arrived in Lisbon is the appearance of the roast chestnut vendors. As the holiday season approaches, they only become more popular. If the air is crisp enough, it is not uncommon for the Baixa area of Lisbon to be filled with smoke and steam from the roast chestnuts. The typical setup is a metal cart, as seen below, but there are some other nifty arrangements where the chestnut roaster is attached to the front of a motorcycle. For about 2€ you can get about a dozen chestnuts. The chestnuts are completely charred and perfect for staving off the winter chill, definitely a must-do for anyone visiting Lisbon in the colder months.

Chestnut vendors in Lisbon by Sr. Nefasto

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Portugal: Joshua’s Shoarma Grill

Joshua’s Shoarma Grill
Vasco de Gama Mall ( Various Locations in Lisbon)
Lisbon, Portugal

We finally made it up to the Parque das Nações in the North-East of Lisbon, home to the city’s superb Oceanarium (we highly recommend it). When approaching the Parque das Nações from the metro you will encounter the super-modern Vasco de Gama mall, which was appropriately decked out for the holidays. At the top of Vasco de Gama is a food court, with tapas, stir-fry, a Brazilian kilo restaurant and some Portuguese chains, including  Joshua’s Shoarma Grill. We actually read about this restaurant in our copy of Cozinhas do Mundo em Portugal (“World Cuisines in Portugal”), and we figured it would be a good stop on our quest for Middle Eastern food in the heart of bacalhau country. Joshua’s Shoarma Grill is a basic fast-food endeavor, with a selection of beef and chicken shewarma, falafel and some Mediterranean-inspired salads.

For about 7 euros apiece we each ordered a combo platter with a small drink and fries. True to type, M got the chicken pita and L got the falafel pita (we are creatures of habit). The funny thing about foreign fast food is that small fries and drink really does mean small (maybe 8 oz) – as opposed to an American “small soda” that is really 24 ounces. Very interesting. L enjoyed the falafel, though you can tell that they were not perhaps freshly cooked. M though his sandwich was way too greasy, unfortunately. The fries were a little limp and sad. A redeeming grace was the garlic sauce. Like Ali Baba Kebab, one of our recent finds, Joshua’s is a good place for a quick Middle Eastern fix. Overall L liked the falafel at Joshua’s better, but M decided Ali Baba Kebab was a better pick for carnivores. If you are in the vicinity of the Parque das Nações, prices tend to be a little inflated, so Joshua’s is a great pick for bargain hunters.

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Portugal: Ali Baba Kebab Haus

Ali Baba Kebab 
Rua Palma, just south of Martim Moniz Square

We love Middle Eastern food, so we were definitely excited to find a few options in Lisbon (more reviews to come). Walking down Martim Moniz square, M’s eye was immediately drawn to the döner spinning in the window. In the words of Ron Swanson, a character from one of our favorite shows, Parks and Recreation, “There’s a hot spinning cone of meat in that Greek restaurant next door. I don’t know what it is, but, I’d like to eat the whole thing.” That was pretty much our reaction upon seeing the Ali Baba Kebab Haus.

Unfortunately, we had just had dinner, so we vowed to return on another day. About a week later, before a night performance at the Dona Maria II National Theater in Rossio Square, we headed over to Ali Baba for a quick bite. When we arrived, the spot was filled with a fast-moving crowd composed of the local middle eastern community and a strong local/German tourist contingent (let us not forget the stunning popularity of döner kebabs in Germany).

Ali Baba serves Turkish food, and there are only three things on the menu: chicken döner, beef döner and falafel. You can get each filling option in a pita or a durum wrap, along with a side of salad or french fries. We each opted for a durum – M picked the chicken and L went with the falafel. All of these options are between only 3.5-6€. Once you pick your filling, you tell the sandwich maker what sorts of toppings you want, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, hot sauce (fantastic!) and garlic sauce (similarly awesome).

Fair warning – there are no tables, just a tiny stand-up counter in the very tiny store. No surprise, many people take the orders to go. M enjoyed his chicken döner, but found it a little greasy for his tastes. The Turkish-style falafel was tasty, and completely complemented by the garlic sauce. Though we had a little trouble eating the overstuffed durums at the stand-up counter you will definitely be hard-pressed to find a better cheap meal near Rossio Square.

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