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Monday, 3 May 2010

Eating Out: The Basic Guide

You pays your money and you takes your choice. The sentiment is no different in and around Lisbon, especially when it comes to the most leisurely and (hopefully) relaxed meal of the day: that in the evening.

Making this choice, you can take the safe option, and go with the tourist herd. You will not lack choice, but then, those providing that choice will not lack in the opportunity to cause your wallet to open that bit wider.

Alternatively, you can follow the locals to one of many cantinhas around the city. These may not speak much (if any) English, the decor will be basic, the TV will be showing whatever football is on (so there may be a small gathering of fans sharing the tables with you), but this is part of the authentic Lisbon. Why not dive in and enjoy it?

Here’s three value for money eateries for those staying in the Baixa or Chiado: two of these are near the top of the Bica funicular (head from the Largo de Camões west along the Rua Loreto, where the 28 tram runs). Looking down from the top of the funicular, at left is the Casa Liege, a one room cantinha which has recently started doing menus translated into English. Good value fish dishes feature strongly.

However, for those on weekend breaks, the Casa Liege is closed on Sundays, but across the track of the funicular, a little lower down, is the Alto Minho, with tables set out in the back room. This is a slightly more upmarket cantinha, but still excellent value. They do an agreeable and filling chicken curry which is popular with the locals.

And to round off the trio, at the back of the Rossio (north side) on the Travessa do Forno, is the excellent Restaurante O Marques, hosted by tram owner and enthusiast Paulo Marques. Again, the tables are laid out in the back room, looked over by a selection of framed photos of the heyday of Lisbon’s tram network. There is the usual range of daily specials, and it’s top value.

Or you could play safe.

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