Postcard from Lisboa, Portugal: Frankly foreign restaurants

We never go long without “foreign” food in San Antonio or when traveling. “Foreign” in this case means not Portuguese. And particularly Italian. This post represents the final one of our “payback” food roundups from Lisbon: we depend so heavily on the internet for reviews that I feel obligated to provide feedback for those who follow.

We were bowled over by Riso8, mainly because we stumbled across it without reviews. We ate two weekday lunches there with a lot of “suits,” which makes you particularly happy you are traveling and don’t have to wear one and rush back to some office. Virtually no tourists were present. The black ink spaghetti was filled with seafood and broccoli and was wonderful, but beware of splashing the dark ink while twirling pasta. Both the sausage risotto and the calamari with saffron version were polished off happily.

When you view the pizza shots, you will think that’s all we ate in Lisboa. But we were there for four weeks. All of the ones mentioned here were good, but none were major homeruns. But we liked all these restaurants. As we were eating so much seafood, we generally ordered vegetarian pizzas.

Among the spots we hit were Esperanca, Limoncello Cucina Italiana, Momenti Italiani and Pizzaria Lisboa. Lunch specials are absurdly inexpensive at Limoncello, but the must-have dish to order is the grilled asparagus. The presentation of Momenti’s tomato salad was artful, and the chocolate mousse was wonderfully rich. The fresh-tasting stacked eggplant – not fried – was luscious at Pizzaria Lisboa, the casual option restaurant opened by a hot chef, Jose Avillez. The dish I plan on duplicating at home is his broiled pineapple with lemon basil sorbet for dessert. Totally refreshing.

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A block from our apartment, we kept watching as they put the finishing touches on Oui, Moules & Huitres. They opened our final week, and the mussels, with numerous options available not laden with cream, were perfect. Across the street from the touristy Cervejaria Trindade, it should be able to attract a following soon.

Another place seemingly new because the menu the French proprietors offered at lunch was radically different – now burger centric – than what online reviews indicated is Velha Gruta off of Largo de Camoes. Ignore those reviews. It is totally uncharacteristic of us to order burgers, but these were far more flavorful than most – whether veal, chicken or salmon – and were topped with interesting combinations of distinctive cheeses and grilled vegetables and served with frites. Expect locals not tourists, friendly owners and a nice, inexpensive liter of house red wine.

Gandhi Palace was good, not great, but sometimes you just need to spice things up….

Postcard from Oaxaca: Flavorful Leftovers

Sometimes you get home from a trip with the postcards you bought to mail to family and friends unwritten and unsent. That’s what these final food photographs from our month in Oaxaca represent.

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Primarily, the photos speak for themselves, and some of these restaurants were mentioned in the much earlier “Serious Salads” post.

A few notes:

  • We ordered the top-billed pizza at Mexita, which, with a creamy wild mushroom sauce at the base, really had too much going on. Try something more minimalist.
  • The mound of caramelized onions on top of the vegetable couscous at El Morocco Café is wonderful.
  • The atmosphere and food at Epicuro, an Italian restaurant, are good enough to go more than once, but the management needs to lose the cards the servers must ask you to read before you are served. Obviously, the management was offended by some online reviews, and the card says customers are not always right and should take up any criticisms on site instead of online. Ignore the insult because the pizzas and grilled seafood are worthwhile.
  • Presentations are colorful and food straightforward at La Zandunga. We probably would have visited more than once if it were not so close to our favorite spot, La Biznaga.
  • La Teca was way on the other side of town. The Istmeno food was a little heavy for our tastes, but we loved the locals and families gathering on the back patio in the garden.
  • We grabbed sandwiches or a Spanish tortilla from Gourmand Delicatessen several times. The potato-filled tortilla represents a flavorful bargain, feeding the two of us two meals.
  • And, of course, there was street food, ours generally purchased from a woman we would pass on our way home.
  • Oh, and make frequent detours through Jardin Socrates in front of the Soledad Church where neverias vend ice cream in flavors not found north of the border.

Hope this series of restaurant posts serves as a helpful guide for those planning trips to one of our favorite spots in Mexico.