Mum was in shock.
“What on Earth were you doing in that part of town?”
We might was well have been roaming around the local red light district or hanging out at the junkies’ alleys.
Lisboa, my love. Where there once was a big black hole of old, degraded groceries and tabernas, you’ll now find lively, gorgeous delis, quirky shops and of course amazing restaurants.
You’ll still find colourful underwear hanging from the windows too.
This is the new old, cool Lisbon. Me and my sister were taking a morning off “real life” and decided to catch up over brunch – apologies if you were expecting something more exotic.
Truth be told, the plan didn’t quite get off to a good start.
As we walked up to our carefully selected brunch destination, we’re met with a “Sorry We Are Closed” sign. Note to self: check opening hours before you type in the destination on the Uber app. Living in London I tend to forget that restaurants may actually not be open every day (which still puzzles me – surely we don’t get a day off food?!).
This brings to the first new restaurant to try in Lisbon – Fauna & Flora.
The perfect brunch spot, with a beautifully orchestrated selection of eggs and pancakes with a great location to fuel up before further roaming up and down (usually always feels more “up” than down) the old, quaint Lisbon streets.
Also totally Instagrammable, which is must. I would have been a greedy, fat little customer and would have ordered pancakes, eggs, latte and finished it up with a breakfast bowl (which I would have generously shared with my sister). Not a first hand experience, but based on all the local feedback I’ve heard, you brunchers will be in food heaven.
The silver lining? If it’s closed, you just have to find somewhere else to latte and egg.
Which lead us to the next Lisbon brunch find: Dear Breakfast.
“Oh look, this is open! And it serves brunches!”
We were two happy bunnies. And the last available table had our name on it. It was meant to be.
And it was a very fine brunch indeed. We had the eggs Florentine, avo toast, pink latte (for the ‘gram), regular lattes (because we actually can’t operate without caffeine) and a yummy bowl of granola, fruits and Greek yogurt. We also stayed there for a long time, since there was a fair amount of catching up to do (hence, lots of food).
Dear Breakfast has a Nordic minimalist vibe and the staff (I was mildly shocked) is mostly foreign and speak more English than Portuguese. Sign of times, so don’t come if you’re looking for a chance to practice the local lingo.
Moving on from day to night, the next go-to is Prado restaurant.
Another perfect location in the New Old part of Lisbon, the concept is unexpected Portuguese tapas.
This new opening is the brainchild of Antonio Galapito, who was Nuno Mendes’ (chef at London’s Chiltern Firehouse) sous chef for over 10 years so expect a cosy, unpretentious atmosphere.
As group of 5 girls we ordered practically one of everything on the menu. And boy, was it delicious. Every single plate comes bursting with seasonal flavours. I remember vividly the cold pumpkin soup, creamy beef stew, grilled black pork, squid and some extraordinary watercress salad.
Be prepared to occasionally have to ask questions about the ingredients. They really did have some veal brain concoction on that did NOT make its way to the table. Soz but this is where old does not meet new for me.
Top tip: portions are small. Like, very small. If two want to share, order two portions. We did make a joke or three about who’s turn was it to have the last prawn – which when you have had one or three glasses of wine is very, very funny (apologies to the poor chaps sitting on tables next to us).
In all fairness though, most plates are not expensive so you can double up without breaking the bank. Just don’t take there your protein lover, large-portions, personal trainer kind of guy and you’ll be fine.
Hope this has inspired you to explore the New Old Lisbon, darlings! As a Lisboeta at heart it feels amazing that my home town is getting packed with these vibrant, new food destinations. Why don’t I move back? Well, that’s something for a different post altogether. For now, I’ll be happily brunching when I go back home.
Have a lovely week everyone!
Ps. I “borrowed” some pictures from the restaurant’s IG. This is free advertising sooo no-one is allowed to sue. Gotcha?