StyleNest take to the streets of Lisbon for the Eat Drink Walk tour, celebrating the very best of the capital city’s food, drink and culture.
For us, the best travel memories have always been associated with food. Whether it’s colossal pizza slices in New York City or the prettiest of pastries in Paris. Well, globetrotters looking to see the streets of Lisbon are in for a treat, as travel and food tour Eat Drink Walk will leave them reminiscing for years to come about the Portuguese city, and its wealth of tasty treats and tastes.
If you thought Portuguese food was simply salt cod and custard tarts, you’d be wrong. The city is brimming with delicious dishes, chic restaurants and trendy bars both old and new, and Eat Drink Walk simply brings that to the table.
The company was founded by travel and food journalist and co-author of the book Eat Portugal – The Essential Guide to Portuguese Cuisine, Célia Pedroso, and her business partner, ex-PR and advertiser Filomena Ferreira Pinto. The duo head up the tours too, and it’s their genuine passion and extensive knowledge for both food and the city that makes the tours so pleasurable.
We met with Célia and Filomena at Lisbon’s most famous market, Mercado da Ribeira to begin the tour. The market is just a stone’s throw from the Cais do Sodré metro station – a part of town that’s a little rough around the edges.
Inside however, the market is one of the city’s hidden jewels, as it bursts with wonderful sights, smells and tastes. Glistening fish caught fresh that morning, huge chillies that hang above your head, the freshest coriander we’ve ever smelt and a few unidentifiable objects us Brit’s aren’t lucky to have back home.
We head on, or up rather (Lisbon is a winding maze of ups and downs so flat shoes are a must) towards the Chiado area, to a fishing tackle shop turned bar, Sol e Pesca. The tiny street was once home to some of Lisbon’s somewhat undesirable destinations such as brothels, but now houses trendy bars and cafés.
Sol e Pesca is just that – it’s trendy but hasn’t lost any of its old charm. Rows upon rows of tinned sardines adorn the walls whilst fishing rods line up and nets and buoys hang above your head. You’d half expect Captain Birdseye to be sipping on a pint and tucking into a plate of sardines in the corner. We take a seat outside and do just that.
After small plates of sardines we’re well and truly in the mood to eat, so it’s on to the next haunt.
Carmo restaurant sits opposite Lisbon’s Carmo Convent – a medieval convent that was famously ruined in the earthquake of 1755. We headed inside to a restaurant much like a classic Portuguese tavern, but designed with modern flare and style.
Jugs of white sangria were served up almost immediately, and unlike most holiday plonks this sangria is made with Portugal’s famous vinho verde which often has a slight sparkle, citrus fruits, cinnamon, even some beer. The drink is one of the waiter’s own secret recipes – zesty, refreshing, delicious and completely lethal.
The food reflects their approach to décor and sangria too – classic Portuguese with a modern twist. We tucked into tapas-size portions of John Dory, Iberico ham (which by the way is just as good in Lisbon as it is in neighbouring Spain), homemade breads with rich olive oils, stuffed chorizo sausages and artisan cheese.
After lunch we were well and truly stuffed, so we head on to walk it all off. This part of the tour allows you to sample some of Lisbon’s finest producers and artisans, and pick up a few treats for your suitcase.
GN Cellar is where the locals go to buy their favourite tipple – port. Portugal’s famous and rich heritage with the drink is celebrated here, where rows and rows of the stuff lines floor to ceiling shelves, from a modest 20€ bottle up to eye-watering thousands.
We’re treated to a port tasting session and clued up on what to look for. If you get a chance to pop in to GN Cellar, their dated bottles are a must-buy. Pick your birth year, or a loved ones perhaps, and it’ll come packed in a beautiful, vintage looking bottle printed with the date. But be warned, depending on whether your birth date is a vintage year or not, prices can vary dramatically. Turns out we’re a pretty cheap date, so headed straight to the till.
We also had the chance to pop next door to Espaço Azores, a tiny shop selling the weird and wonderful produce of the Islands of Azores, as well as a nearby candy shop making homemade sweets, treats and lollipops.
Coffee stops are a must too – Lisbon is a city that is runs on the stuff, and it’s mandatory to order a traditional pastel de nata, or custard tart, with your espresso. We headed to a nearby Lisbon chain for our caffeine and custard fix, but head over to Café Lisboa for arguably the best the city has to offer.
After taking in some of the shopping streets under the guidance of Célia and Filomena, and climbing up to the breathtaking viewing tower above the Carmo Cathedral, we headed to our final part of the tour.
Just off the main shopping street you’ll find Wine Spot Chiado. Tucked away in a little square away from the busy Lisbon streets, it was the perfect spot to finish off a perfect day, sparkling wine in hand, local cheeses loading the table and sunshine overhead.
With Lisbon’s steep hills and winding cobbled backstreets, this is a tour that’ll do as much for your taste buds as it will your calves. And with so much to take in in this vibrant city, Eat Drink Walk is one way of coming back satisfied, bellyful and utterly in love with Lisbon. Next time we’re in the Portugese capital, we’ll have Célia and Filomeno on speed dial.
Eat Drink offer a range of tours throughout Lisbon, starting from just 40€. For 2014, they will also be offering tours in the Eastern Algarve region, in assosication with Fazenda Nova Country House.