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School of Fish

Lisbon’s Rich Seafood Tradition
  • Sea Me

  • Sea Me

  • Estado Líquido

  • Ljubomir Stanisic, 100 Maneiras (Photos: © Constantino Leite)

  • 100 Maneiras (Photo: © Constantino Leite)

  • Saldanha Mar, Fontana Park Hotel

  • José Avillez (left) and Chef de Cuisine David Jesus (Photo: © Paulo Barata)

  • Restaurante Belcanto (Photos: © Nuno Correia)

  • Restaurante Feitoria, Altis Belém Hotel & Spa

  • Altis Belém Hotel & Spa

CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

Portugal’s capital and largest city, Lisbon sits at the mouth of the Tagus River, just off the Atlantic.

WHY GO

Because it’s a deeply charming place — the people generally mellow and unhurried, the glow of that distinctive southern European sunlight especially attractive laid across the red-roofed homes that dot its hills — and because, at least for now, it’s still one of Europe’s great bargains.

HOW

Lisbon’s Portela airport is Portugal’s largest, receiving regular flights from around Europe, and from major hubs in Africa and North America. The Port of Lisbon is also a major stop for cruise ships, so for something more civilized than air travel, you could consider arriving by boat.

TABLET TIP

Though there’s plenty to see in Lisbon proper, consider making a day trip to the nearby coastal town of Cascais, a picturesque fishing village and resort area where already laid-back Lisbon locals go to really relax.

Lisbon, May, 2013

As a cosmopolitan port city in a country with a serious cooking tradition, Lisbon has long produced some of the world’s most accomplished seafood chefs. Recently, the rest of the world has begun to take notice, especially in London, where Lisbon-born chef Nuno Mendes now presides over Viajante at Town Hall, and Luís Baena, formerly of Lisbon’s acclaimed Manifesto, is setting up shop in Notting Hill. Not that the flames are going untended back in Portugal. The recent Peixe em Lisboa festival, the High Mass of wine-and-fish pairings, proved that local chefs continue to find plenty of inspiration right where they stand, on the banks of the Tagus.

Top Chefs
Leading the “media darlings” category is José Avillez, an old student of Ferran Adrià and a rising star at Belcanto, in the Chiado, where he earned a Michelin star in 2012. In a newly updated dining room Avillez serves avant-garde cuisine that utilizes local fish: from “Jackson Pollock skate” to cod with rice chips. Meanwhile, at 100 Maneiras in the Bairro Alto, Belgrade-native Ljubomir Stanisic creates outstanding nine-course seasonal menus. The signature appetizer is “cod on a clothesline,” served with cilantro aioli. Over in the Santos district, TV chef Henrique Sá Pessoa keeps things entertaining at Alma. The cloud-white space is offset by a riot of color in dishes like thyme-roasted grouper and tempura sardines. And finally, in Belém, chef José Cordeiro revives forgotten flavors at the Altis Belém Hotel & Spa’s Feitoria, as in sake-poached bream served with barnacles and chayote. Bring your culinary dictionary.

Sushi Fusion
Raw fish is every bit as popular as the cooked stuff in Lisbon, but the city’s ever-tinkering chefs are hardly satisfied to leave a cut of nigiri be. At Yakuza by Olivier, master sushi chef Agnaldo Ferreira incorporates buffalo mozzarella in his uramaki and cod in his gyoza. Back in Chiado, the place to go is Umai, where “swing maki,” the house specialty, combines sushi and tempura, while the wine list features the best of the Douro and Alentejo regions. And near the Cais do Sodré port, the LX Boutique Hotel has an outpost of a Cascais institution, the Confraria do Sushi. Their Confraria LX features an identical menu — Camembert uramaki, lobster hossomaki, and nigiri Saint-Jacques — in a cocktail-bar setting.

Fresh Catch
At Doca Peixe, on the Alcântara docks, you can get the daily catch fresh from the nets, gauging the quality of the octopus or herring before deciding how you want it cooked. Then head back to the Chiado, near the Praça Luís de Camões, for a look at Sea Me in the old fish market. There you can hunt for the perfect market-fresh crab to cook for dinner, or just sit back and attack some oysters and Champagne. Chiado is also where chef Miguel Castro e Silva plies his trade. His restaurant, Largo, is housed in a converted eighteenth-century convent. The address is famous, the space is theatrical, the aquariums are full of jellyfish, and the dishes are confidently executed — think hake and mussels on arugula risotto. Or just think Lisbon.

Dante Nolleau

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CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

Portugal’s capital and largest city, Lisbon sits at the mouth of the Tagus River, just off the Atlantic.

WHY GO

Because it’s a deeply charming place — the people generally mellow and unhurried, the glow of that distinctive southern European sunlight especially attractive laid across the red-roofed homes that dot its hills — and because, at least for now, it’s still one of Europe’s great bargains.

HOW

Lisbon’s Portela airport is Portugal’s largest, receiving regular flights from around Europe, and from major hubs in Africa and North America. The Port of Lisbon is also a major stop for cruise ships, so for something more civilized than air travel, you could consider arriving by boat.

TABLET TIP

Though there’s plenty to see in Lisbon proper, consider making a day trip to the nearby coastal town of Cascais, a picturesque fishing village and resort area where already laid-back Lisbon locals go to really relax.


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