Go Natural, Lisbon

Another lunch spot… this one looks more fast-food than the other places we’ve been lately, because of the menu above the ordering till, with pictures of the food (McDonald’s style!) But the food is quite good, so worth a visit.Andre had the cevhiche bowl with oatmeal, mango, and avocado, doused in lemon juice. I tasted this, but was happier with my choice…  I went for the salad of Thai chicken and rice, served wtih roast vegetables (sweet potato, bok coy and mushrooms), avocado, and some dried fruit, all mixed into a coconut sauce… delicious!But they were both good, cheap, and a wholesome meal… while the atmosphere leaves something to be desired, it’s central (in Chiado), the price is right,  and you leave feeling satisfied!

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Tease, Lisbon

In the spirit of trying out different lunch places that the regular cafes (Kristof, The Mill, Brooklyn), we went to Tease, a new cafe on a small square with… this was the key… outdoor seating! There’s a large inside, along with a number of outdoor tables as well.

They’re open from breakfast and make a mean lemonnade… but after noon, we were getting a bit hungry and decided to try the lunch menu. There are a number of salads, sandwiches, and tartes to choose from.

Andre went for the vegetable quiche, which was full of delicious veggies and served with a side salad.

They only had one piece left, so I decided to try one of the sandwiches, the Vegetarian, which was filled with delicious veggies such as spinach, a tomatoey pepper spread, and black beans. It was pretty good, especially toasted!

While there was nothing especially great about Tease (oh, and actually, the coffee really leaves something to be desired), the outdoor seating and sandwiches mean that I’ll probably come back and try a few other options sometime soon.

Casablanca, Praia Nova, Portugal

Then, a few days of working from Lisbon… towards mid-afternoon, we headed out to a nearby beach (in Caparica, 30 mins from Lisbon) for a late lunch and some kite-surfing for Andre. Though the weather was not really cooperating…

Check out how white the beach/area is… though maybe the clouds have something to do with it too?

We were some of the only people there for lunch, as it was the first week back to school!

As elsewhere in Portugal, we started with a few of their covers… cold, herbed octopus salad (yum), some olives, and some hot-cooked chorizo. The chorizo was quite oily, but really nice warmed up.

Then, we went for the crab… what a nice presentation! It came with bits to crack and pick out the meat from the legs. The meat was sweet and flaky and juicy, a real treat. Then, the dark meat that was in the head of the crab was the second part of the meal, spread over the little toasts that it was served with… an aesthetic dish that tasted just as good as it looked!

And, dessert. There were a bunch of fancy desserts on the menu, but all we wanted was icecream…

We tried a few places along the beach here, and this was the best to date… with prices for fish (per kilo) much cheaper than in Comporta, Ericeira, Cascais… so if nothing else, we’ll be back for the turbot and seabass (and that amazing crab again, mmm…)

O Diniz, Comporta Beach, Portugal

Driving over the bridge and down through Setubal, we arrived to another peninsula, this time, that of Troia and Comporta. (yes, the below is the bridge in Lisbon, not the Golden Gate Bridge!)

Comporta is one of those towns near Lisbon that you might have heard people talking about more and more over the past few years – it’s a beachtown in the pines that looks like the East Coast of the US, with big sand dunes. A lot of the French who have moved to Lisbon like it and have congregated there in the summers, so you’re just as likely to run into French people as Portuguese there!

We took a friend’s recommendation and headed to O Diniz for lunch the first day.

We started with everything they give you as table starters… in this case, olives, cheese, and a tuna pate. There’s something slightly annoying about how you get twenty different “covers” to start your meal in Portugal (and are exepcted to pay for any that you touch), but at the same time, not being there often, it’s fun to try different cheeses, pates, etc at each meal.

Then, our main meal, a mixed salad and some grilled sardines. Slightly charred with flaky skin, but tender and moist inside, these guys hit the spot (along with a good dose of fresh onion!)

Other people had ordered other fish, including large turbot and sea bass… overall, the seafood looked excellent!

After this, we made our way to the beach (pretty empty for late August, isn’t it?!) and spent the rest of the afternoon reading and napping…

Ribeira d’Ilhas Surf Restaurant and Bar, Ericeira, Portugal

Ericeira, surf country… 45 minutes from Lisbon, you have a beach town that has high cliffs and rough water, and is perfect for surfing. It attracts surfers from around the world, and lots of Portuguese families.

A few minutes from town is Ribeira d’Ilhas beach, which was recommended to us by a friend who told us it would be more quiet than the others (ie, not packed)… so we went there both days that we were in town. The beach itself is wide and there is tons of room to surf.

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At lunchtime, we didn’t head far, just up to the restaurant located next to the surf schools, and sat on the bean bag chairs. The restaurant was packed because it was vaguely an hour to eat, so we had to wait a bit and keep a sharp eye on who was getting up from their table (the waiter’s service starts once you’re sitting, they don’t help you find a table).

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Then, the menu… it has everything. Salads, sandwiches and burgers, pasta, and even eggs, we were spoilt for choice.

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Andre went for the smoked salmon salad the first day, which had bits of mango in it… and thought it was pretty good.

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I went for the salmon burger, served with a wasabi mayo on the side, a salad, and some pretty good fries… though I learnt that the fries only tasted good when hot… afterwards, they lacked in taste and crunch.

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Happy with our meals, we came back the next day and each had the tuna burger… I think tuna as a fish is easier to keep in a patty (ie, the salmon burger kept crumbing, even in the bun, whereas the tuna burger held up)… but they were much less generous with salad this time around… which we made up for with a nice green juice.

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Overall, this place really hits the spot, you can eat healthfully (ish) if you want, spend as much time as you like sitting around and ordering coffees, drinks, etc (ie, if you aren’t surfing but you’re with someone that is, its a good place to escape the midday sun and hang out), and soak in the vibe of the surfers that have come from all over the globe to test the waves.

Restaurante a Peixaria, Sao Jacinto, Portugal

Next, we were heading down towards Lisbon, stopping 45 minutes north in Ericeira. But one of Andre’s friends had told us about Sao Jacinto, a small town just south of Porto, that was worth checking out, so we detoured there for lunch and a walk on the beach before heading further south.

Sao Jacinto is based on a peninsula that is similar to Cap Ferret on the Basin d’Arcachon. Sao Jacinto is on the end of the peninsula, and like Cap Ferret, has a bay side and ocean side to the town.

Again, not knowing anything about it, we went on Google maps to find a place to eat, and really hit a home run! When we arrived at Restaurante a Peixaria, it was heaving and had a long queue waiting outside. When we finally got the waitress’s attention to put our name down, we asked if we could sit at the bar, and she sat us right down. Great!

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Outside, while we were waiting, we watched the chef prepare and grill the squid that everyone seemed to be having…

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Look at that, how could you not want to taste it?!

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So we ordered some squid and some of the fresh prawns on the specials board… These were just off the boat fresh, still slightly crunchy and tough to take the shells off (I ate a lot of shell out of laziness… but it’s good for calcium, right?!), these little guys were delicious.

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Then came the calamari with some sides, and a nice salad wash it all down… we did a pretty good job with all of the food, and were licking our fingers at the end… it was all so good, and we didn’t feel like we were going to explode afterwards!

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A little bar-side selfie… and then off to the beach for a walk in the sand, before we headed back to the car and down to Ericeira.

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Lamego Hotel and Life, Lamego, Portugal

The next stop on our trip was to wine country, the Douro Valley. We stayed at the Lamego Hotel, which is a large, modern concrete building (that surprised us when we arrived), but apart from that, a great place. The rooms are comfortable, there’s an extensive breakfast buffet, and a lovely pool area that we spent quite a lot of time frequenting. (As a quick side note, they have their own winery, Quinta Branca, whose red and white wine is quite good).

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The pool has its own bar area, where we decided to grab lunch the first day… knowing we were going to have a huge dinner (at the Pacheca Winery… it was delicious), we took it easy for lunch and grabbed some basics. As the pool menu mostly has sandwiches and burgers, it was slim pickings, but we managed…

We went for the grilled prawns, which were cooked in their juice with some spring onion… These were pretty good, as were the juices, which we sopped up with some bread. We had also asked for as simple a salad as they could make us… and ended up with some shredded lettuce (maybe what is usually put on the burgers?) and tomatoes. The tomatoes were small and bursting with flavour.

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That afternoon, we headed to Pinhao to check out some of the wineries (and the view… the drive along the Douro Valley between Lamego and Pinhao is supposedly one of the most beautiful in the world!)

After a bit of white wine and white Porto tasting at the Quinta do Bomfim (as you can see, we took advantage of their cheese plate as well!)

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we headed back down the river and chased the sunset, heading to a fantastic dinner in the green room at the Quinta da Pacheca (which also has a great-looking hotel).

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