One day I will adventure more outside of Europe, but for now... I needed a weekend in Europe.
What made me choose Portugal? In all honesty, I just wanted to go somewhere new for this weekend trip, and there was a really good deal on United during Cyber Monday, so I booked it and started planning. The only thing that disappointed me was the fact that I didn't book a longer trip, so I will definitely be back to Portugal in the future.
I got into Lisbon a few hours before dinner, and sadly, Julia's (my bff/travel buddy) flights were very delayed, so I was riding solo to dinner.
We decided to stay at Solar dos Poetas in the city center - it was so close to pretty much everything we were wanting to do and see. The staff was the BEST - we had daily Aperol Spritz in the bar area and chatted up with the staff. One of the gentlemen working at the front gave us a really good authentic Portugese lunch place we went to on our last day. I highly recommend this place - and view view could not have been better!
Once I got ready for dinner, I made the walk on over to Chapitô à Mesa for my solo dinner. Even though it was 0.7 miles from my hotel, it was a workout with the hills and stairs. Even though the food here was delicious, it would have a better view during the day time - it looks over the river and the streets of Lisbon.
I got a couple glasses of Vinho Verde - a yummy recommendation from Julia. For my appetizer, I got the surf and turf, which was Tiger shrimp and tuna tartare. And then for my entree, I got Parmentier, which they said is a mixture of pulled pork and beef. It was served under a bed of truffle mashed potatoes, and good golly my mouth was WATERING with every bite of it.
Since we went in the beginning of March, the weather was a bit overcast, but this was our nicest day. We started with brunch at Cafe Janis, which was just coffee and splitting avocado toast (avo toast not pictured).
After brunch we bough train tickets to head over to Cascais for the day. Train tickets were really easy to get. It was only about a 40 minute train ride, and trains were running every 20 minutes. I LOVED this town - I think I will always prefer a small town getaway than going to a large city.
One of the first things we saw here was a small art fair at a local park. If you know me, then this was my cup of tea. I love shopping for local art and goods - I have a growing art collection from my travels. After checking out the local vendors, we walked around town a bit more and checked out the marina. It was almost noon at this time and we were ready for some wine - some Vinho Verde of course. We found a spot we could sit outside by the marina for our pre-lunch wine.
Lunch was at Baía do Peixe, which had a great view of the water. Safe to say we were ready to drink and eat until we could barely move. We got a bottle of Vinho Verde, scallops for an appetizer, Julia got the cod for her main dish, and I got the octopus. I hate eating vegetables, but the broccoli Julia got as a one of her sides was SO DANG GOOD! I don't know how they made it, but I would eat it every day. Otherwise, the seafood was so yummy! PS - I am a big F1 fan, so don't mind the picture of me watching qualifying during lunch.
Once we were back in Lisbon, we headed to our hotel bar for an Aperol Spritz. The hotel staff was asking us about our dinner plans, and I don't even know where we had dinner planned for that night, but once they suggested an Argentinian place, Tinto & Brasa Parrilla, we were sold. The guy who recommended it is from Argentina, so I felt like we could really trust this place. I traveled to Argentina in December 2017, and the food there was some of the best I have had, so I was really excited for this recommendation.
Of course we started off with a glass of Malbec each. Then for apps, we got two empanadas and two croquettes. For our entrees, we shared skirt steak (a must) and then the veal schnitzel. For dessert, our waiter recommended the crepes with dulce de leche, and it was soooooo good but very rich!
We came into this trip with dinner reservations as the only thing we had planned. So, today we just spent wandering around.
We started with breakfast at Fauna & Flora and it was 10/10. Not only was the inside extremely cute, but the food was amazing too! We started off with coffee because caffeine was driving us at this point. Then, we shared the baga pancakes and a bacon and egg bagel. I am usually a savory kind of gal, but the pancakes were my favorite part of the breakfast
Next adventure was to LX Factory, and here we just walked around through all the shops. I could have bought so many things here, but, unfortunately, I did not have a lot of room in my carry on suitcase. Aside from Cascais, this was one of my favorite areas to explore in/around Lisbon. I travel so I can experience other cultures - food, art, architecture- you name it I love it about other countries. LX Factory was just that for me.
Next up was lunch at the Time Out Market. With the amount of food options here, we could have ate here for lunch and dinner each day and still not eat at every place. This place was PACKED - granted we did go on a Sunday, but it was very hard to find a place to sit. Thankfully our gal at the Aperol Spritz bar was watching out for us and had her eyes open to snag us a couple seats while we ate our pizza from Zero Zero.
After lunch, it was time to watch the F1 race! We found this bar that was PACKED - standing room only - but nearly all of their TVs had the race on. So, I was VERY happy.. at least I was happy until Charles Leclerc had a DNF and Carlos Sainz didn't end up on the podium.
Now dinner this night.. it was a dream. Palacio Chiado.. where do I even start? The downstairs area is a bar/club, but walking up the stairs to the restaurant...it was like walking into a museum. The walls are all painted (kind of like the Vatican), the ceilings are high, and each room has a unique feel, but it all ties together. Throughout this entire dinner, I was just stunned by the whole vibe.. from the art, to the food, to the music (OH the music was it for me!), to the service.
This place would run us about $200 each (easily) in Texas, but we splurged and still only spend about $150 total. So, if you want a nice meal that will give you a full experience, then I would highly recommend Palacio Chiado! To start, we got the sautéed shrimp with sweet chili and guacamole, as well as the couvert, which was truffle and herb butter with bread and a side of marinated olives. As my entree, I got the char-grilled entrecote (steak) with french fries and creamy truffle sauce. Julia got the grilled tiger prawns with asparagus and risotto. For dessert, we asked our waiter for a recommendation, and she chose the crispy vanilla, which was like an explosion of vanilla cream in your mouth - it was so yummy!
Okay, so remember how I said I loved F1?! On our second day we walked past a Ferrari-styled Tuk Tuk. I ended up finding them on Instagram and scheduling a 90-minute tour around Lisbon for our last morning. He also took us to Santo Antonio Pastelaria to get pastel de natas, which are sooooo good (make sure to put cinnamon and powdered sugar on it)
It was a rainy day, so to stay dry, we went back to our hotel for our daily Aperol Spritz to figure out lunch. The hotel staff recommended Principe de Calhariz for some authentic Portugese food. Now, don't get me wrong, all of the food we ate so far was great, but I didn't feel like it was authentic to Portugal. We got house red wine, bread and olives, croquettes (not pictured), grilled cod, and seafood rice. This was so much food for us, and we only paid $40 for it all (add it to one of the many reasons I loved Lisbon).
After lunch, we needed to make room for dinner, so we walked to Alfama and just got lost for a bit. Then it was wine time, so we found a spot on the river and sat to drink a glass of wine.
Dinner that night was at Leonetta. If you read my Tuscany blog, you know I am an AWFUL flirt when it comes to cute waiters. Our waiter here was so attractive, but of course I did not have the courage to tell him that.. maybe one day I will be more brave.
We were still full from lunch and Julia was hurting from all the food and alcohol over the whole weekend, so we shared the burrata with focaccia app, clam pasta, and tiramisu.
And then sadly, we needed to go home the next day. So, to the guy in the bar where we watched the F1 race... yes, we were only there for a weekend and no, we were not "takin' the piss out of you"!
Overall, Lisbon was great! I really want to go back during the warmer months to soak up the sun and beaches more - and I am sure there is a lot more to see in Portugal than just Lisbon.
Things To Know Before Going:
Go for longer than 3.5 days, or if you do, don't make this your only stop on your European trip - 3.5 days was rough for 9+ hours of travel EACH way
Eat allllll the seafood
Lisbon is nicknamed "The 7 Hills" for a reason... lots of hills and steps, so comfortable shoes are a must
Ubers are SUPER inexpensive - for our 30 minute ride to the airport, we only paid $20 (in Texas it is at least $40).
A lot of places will shut down after lunch time for a siesta
Eat allllll the pastel de natas
Drink all the Vinho Verde!!!