Europe is a magical place. From the history, to the people, to the culture, to the food, to the beauty and overall atmosphere, you feel this blanket of richness come over you as you walk the streets and take it all in…I do, at least. So a chance to go anywhere in Europe is always très exciting for me.
I had the opportunity to visit Lisbon, Portugal for 3ish days last week, and exploring this underrated city did not disappoint. I say “underrated” only because there are a lot of other European cities/countries that just get more attention! Paris, Barcelona, London, Rome (basically all of Italy) and so many more that are insanely popular travel destinations, I feel that Lisbon, Portugal somehow falls under the radar. But I think that will be changing over the next few years, and when it does, I want my boujie readers to have some ideas of where to go when they visit….namely, one unassuming place called Café Lisboa.
Café Lisboa is one of several restaurants owned by Portuguese chef José Avillez, right across the street from his two Michelin starred restaurant, Belcanto, in the Bairro Alto region of Lisbon. Café Lisboa is located in the 200-year old Sao Carlos National Theatre, a stunning hall dedicated only to opera, and has an upscale yet laid-back feel. There’s an indoor dining area that makes you feel like you’re walking into a 1920s European coffee parlor, with luxurious red chairs and gold accents everywhere. It’s literally within the ground floor of that beautiful theatre, so it’s bound to exude this special luxury.
There’s also an outdoor terrace, which is basically in the courtyard of the theatre, so there’s a lot of open space around it, making it very peaceful to sit outside on a nice day. It’s also framed with tall plants so you have a sense of privacy when you’re sitting out there. It’s open from 12pm to 12am, so you can get a quick drink or a full on meal at basically anytime of the day, which is always really intriguing for someone coming from NYC.
I ate at Café Lisboa at a more civilized hour, around 3pm, and had lunch outside. The menu book alone is adorable, with this cute illustration of a classic Lisbon tramcar on the cover that I just admired for a few minutes. It’s in Portuguese and English, so no struggles or mysteries there. The menu was diverse and mouthwatering! After flipping through some interesting options, I noticed a prix-fixe menu in the back which included Couvert (bread/cheese/olives starter – this is not complimentary at most restaurants in Lisbon, FYI), 1 Starter Dish, 1 Main Dish, and water (also not typically included), for 16.50 euros, which is close to 20 bucks. Not a bad deal at all! I wanted to be able to try a variety of things on the menu, so I went with this choice.
The server recommended a glass of Portuguese Aveleda white wine which was absolutely amazing. I would literally drink it every day if I could. Crisp, light, fresh, it’s like everything you would want in a glass of white. I had the Pastel Lisboa as my starter, a puff pastry stuffed with meat that’s a Portuguese specialty and was light and delicious, and the Octopus Rice as my main dish. It came in a small pot so you could keep it warm and control the portions on your plate, and it was filling but also felt super healthy at the same time. The octopus was sliced into small pieces within the rice, and was tasty and fresh. You’re in Lisbon, so you’re bound to get good seafood in most places, but this was like really good. I ordered two sorbets for dessert, (not a part of the prix-fixe menu) that were served in little mason jars! The presentation across the board was so charming, and everyone knows presentation is just as important as the meal itself.
I had read about Café Lisboa online and the reviews were positive so I had to try it out, and I’m thrilled that I did. It was boujie but casual, vibrant but peaceful, discreet but grand, all at the same time. It’s also only a few blocks down from Rua Garrett, a main shopping avenue in the heart of Lisbon, where all the hustle and bustle is. So at Café Lisboa, you’re close to it all, but in your own secluded hideaway at the same time. Yes and yes.
As I was getting ready to leave, an older woman who was fabulous and impeccably dressed came in and sat down across from me, and was served a glass of champagne and a Pastel Lisboa pastry instantly upon arrival. I gave her a smile and she smiled back before settling her shopping bags and getting comfortable. As if relaxing in a chic European café wasn’t enough inspo for one day, this lady was the boujie icing on the cake. I want to be like her when I grow up.
Read more about Café Lisboa and José Avillez here, and if you have a chance to go to Lisbon, definitely stop by. It’s officially been boujie-recommended!
There’s so many other sights/places to see in Lisbon as well, so stay tuned for my next blog post covering my list of must-sees in this charming city. Saúde, lovers!