We’re heading to Lisbon for the party of a festival that is NOS Alive, as if the huge line-up (we’re talking The Cure, Vampire Weekend and The Chemical Brothers here) isn’t enough, we check in with our resident writer Tim Brown for recommendations for the stunning city of Lisbon itself.
We love a funicular. Is there a funicular in Lisbon?
Tim: Bica is still the best one. In addition to taco-heaven Pistol y Corazon (which has a new little pop up called Taco Shop #1 right on the river as well now by the way), craft brewery Musa have just opened up a second site at the bottom as well. The top is lined with hole in the wall bars, and people sitting on the tram lines jumping out of the way whenever one approaches.
What’s the best tall building to go up to get a great view of the city.
Tim: Santa Catarina is closed this year I’m afraid, but Nossa Senhora do Monte belvedere and do Monte Agudo are still good. If you really want to get a great view, and don’t mind going a bit off piste, head to Panorâmico de Monsanto. It used to be a restaurant but is now an abandoned building in the middle of a huge park. You have to sneak in, as theoretically I think it’s private properly. Everybody does it though, I promise.
We hear a lot about pasta del nata, and everyone says go to Pastéis de Belém or Manteigaria – so we guess we’re okay for them. So, what other local food should we be trying, and where should we be trying it? Probably savoury, more than sweet. We like sandwiches.
Tim: I recently found this great little place, which you’ll probably have to book for. Taberna da Esperança is one of three places next to each other, all owned by the same people. It’s sharing dishes, and typically Portuguese. Probably my new favourite local. If you want proper local local, try out Foradoras. No frills whatsoever, but great food. It’s a mother and daughter team, and they’re both two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I think so anyway. The mum doesn’t speak English. But she’s always smiling.
For sandwiches, you really can’t beat a bifana. A proper one is pork soaked in white wine and olive oil for hours and then served in a roll. I am fairly certain I have now tested every option available in Lisbon, and Tasca Pomb’alina remains undefeated.
We are English people abroad and we are creatures of habit. Can you please recommend places for these 3 most important meals: a) breakfast and good coffee b) the best pizza around c) the pick of the burgers.
Tim: Coffee is getting better and better. My favourite roast is from the Royal Rawness these days. They’re a little way out of the way in the Beato area, but well worth the effort. A new good place for breakfast is Cotidiano, right in the centre of town.
It has been bugging me for a year now that I forgot all about Retrogusto84 last year. It’s the best pizza in Lisbon and it isn’t even close. It’s only small, and you can’t book, but they also do take away and there’s plenty of nice places to go and sit around there, so get a pizza, some beers and have a picnic if they’re full.
Ground Burger is the best burger in Lisbon. Honorato and the B Temple are fine too, but Ground Burger is the place to head.
There are few better feelings than looking over a city, as the sun sets, with a drink in your hand – what are the best rooftop bars we should be heading to?
Tim: Avoid Park. Please avoid Park. It is always so busy that you might not be able to get outside, let alone see the view. It’s expensive too. Ferroviário is good, but I’d still say Rio Maravilha at LX Factory wins. A nice little more unknown one is the roof of Hotel Chiado. Also great oysters.
We don’t always want to look like tourists though, so where should we be drinking with Lisbon locals? We’re thinking cool little bars where all the drinks are, like, €1.
Tim: All the bars at the top of Bica are frequented mainly by locals – though you’ll be surrounded by tourists taking photos of the tram. What’s more, beers start at €0.80 and go up to €1.50 for a pint. Ridiculous. Intendente Square is also a great spot. It’s where non-Portuguese locals, like myself, tend to hang out. It’s where Casa Independente is too, which is a very cool bar.
Is there one tourist attraction or Lisbon tradition (other than a funicular) that we shouldn’t miss out on?
Tim: Last year I said Belem, and MAAT and Museu Colecaao Berardo and Pasteis de Belem, and that stands. But I assume you followed that advice, so this year go to Oceanário de Lisboa. It’s the best aquarium I’ve ever been to. And has sea otters.
Are there any record shops in Lisbon you can recommend?
Tim: Yes. Louie Louie is the pick. It’s very central, and has plenty of new and second hand. Crew Hassan, a bar just by Intendente Square also holds a good selection, as does a little place just by one of the cafes on the square. But I’ve forgotten what that is called.
Does Lisbon dance late into the night? If so, where should we be heading when the headliners at the festival are done? What kinds of clubs are out there?
Tim: James Murphy is playing Lux Fragil, Lisbon’s super club, on the 12th. He won’t be on until way after 2am, so you’ll have plenty of time to get there after the festival. For any other night, Pink Street is the place to head. A lot of the clubs and bars are terrible, but in a good way. Musicbox is one to keep an eye on, as they often have some very good DJs on any time of year.
Are there any local (or Portuguese) acts playing the festival that we might not know and should be checking out?
Tim: Two of my favourite Portuguese acts playing on the first day this year. Porto’s Sunflowers and Lisbon’s very own Vaarwell are both well worth your time. The former remind me of Shinies, while the latter have a much more relaxed sound. If you get a chance, see Solar Corona and Marinho too.
The Clubbing Stage has some really good stuff this year too. Way before Madonna decided to try her hand at bringing fado to the masses, Stereossauro was combining it with hip hop, and to great effect. The next big thing, Carla Prata can also be found there, as can one of Porto’s finest exports, Trikk.
Finally, try and catch Chong Kwong. She’s a Portuguese rapper with Chinese, Timorese, Mozambican and Cape Verdean heritage.
Thanks so much Tim, any other tips while we’re here?
Tim: I mentioned the Royal Rawness over in Beato earlier. And I love Beato and would recommend heading there for a day. You can start with a coffee and some food at Royal Rawness, then head up the road to Underdogs Gallery. Whenever you see good street art around Lisbon, it’s usually been commissioned by Underdogs. At the moment, they have an exhibit of smileys curated by Fatboy Slim. Yep. After that, head back past Royal Rawness to a couple of craft breweries. Both Musa and Dois Corvos are in the area and have great taprooms. Musa often have live music as well. The perfect warm up to heading to the festival.