We 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.
One 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.
Some 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.