“Table for one?”
“Si, obrigada,” I say as the waiter escorts me to a quiet corner table at the seven-year old Terra, a vegetarian restaurant in Lisbon’s barrio Principe Real.
This is one of the best vegetarian restaurants I’ve ever been to and here it is smack dab in the middle of meat and fish happy Portugal.
I realize more and more how much of my travels, and in turn, this blog end up being about food.
This restaurant is buffet-style, but don’t let that scare you off. The foods are all in beautiful clay pots and ceramic dishes. There are sturdy wooden tables with small candles and soft music plays in the background. It’s a calm atmosphere that also allows me to feel perfectly fine dining alone. Lunch I can do alone with not a worry, but sometimes dinner does still make me feel a bit uncomfortable depending on the place and crowd.
There are no less than four different types of salads – spinach, grean leaf with sultanas (raisins) and almonds, and all manner of accompaniments: hearts of palm, peas, artichoke hearts, fava beans, olives, slaw, corn.
Dishes of cous cous, falafel, mushrooms, orzo pasta salad and a few Indian dishes all vie for my attention and find themselves on my already overflowing plate.
There is a lovely back garden, but unfortunately it’s pouring rain. The only thing to ruin the lovely vibe here, is the fact that two different diners are loudly whispering on their mobiles.
From the magazine articles proudly framed on the wall, I see that the place is a big hit with the famously outspoken Vegan, Moby, as well as, Deepak Chopra…and well, me.
Yes, it’s recommended by the Lonely Planet Guide, but for good reason. This cozy cafe has that comfy couch/eclectic tchotchkes feel. It could be anywhere in the world and the food reflects that with asian and middle-east inspired dishes plus salads and wonderful fresh juice drinks. Okay, maybe it’s not your typical Portuguese food, but it’s really good. Run by Austrians, it’s a great spot to take an afternoon breather and sink into one of their couches with a good book (which you can find there – there are plenty of books and magazines floating around for a quick read).
Cantinho da Paz
Here is a neat little place brought to you by colonization. This restaurant serves up the cuisine of the lost Portuguese colony of Goa, which the Indian government reclaimed in 1961. I was taken here by a new couchsurfing friend. While it was a bit of a dead night, the spicy curries were great and the warm cellar-feel made me feel like I was in a hidden gem….one that’s been feeding the Portuguese masses for more than 35 years.
We ducked into the lively, candy-striped place in the popular Chiado district. Santini’s has that classic 1950s candy and ice cream shop vibe complete with red and white candy-cane décor and black and white photos adorning the walls. Perhaps it’s because it first opened in 1949. It feels like an ice cream shop from Coney Island rather than Lisbon. You’ll have trouble only visiting once with flavors like Hazelnut Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, Gorgonzola with Walnuts, and Acai with Strawberry.