Shopping and wandering around art galleries are good reasons, as is lying on a beach. But eating has to be a standout reason to travel — and surely the ultimate way to get to know a place and its people. With a little help from some of our gastronomically inclined, jet-setting friends, we put together a list of restaurants you should head to next. Some are fancy, some are street — all are exceptional.
Lisbon's food scene, from the tastebuds of Robyn Alexander and Chris Roper:
There are food trucks that are bigger than Local. If there’s a golden formula for food perfection, this is it: 18m² of floor space, seating 10 people at one table (you’ll make friends), and serviced by three chefs. The food is as breathtaking as the walk up the hills of the Bairro Alto, where Local is situated. With three chefs at play, dishes change all the time but are always absolutely delicious. Try a simple piece of lirio fish perfectly prepared with some fresh green leaves, or Algarve shrimp with tomato caviar, pickled courgette and almond milk. And if you trust the chefs, they are all immaculately paired with local wines. It’s an experience like no other. Instagram: @localrestaurantelx
Mezze might be situated slightly off the tourist track in Arroios, a residential neighbourhood of central Lisbon, but it’s well worth taking the trouble to head uptown for. The exceptionally good Middle Eastern food served here is prepared by a staff consisting mainly of Syrian refugees who started arriving in Portugal in 2015 as part of the EU’s relocation programme. After a successful series of pop-ups in 2016, Mezze’s founders crowd-funded money to open a permanent location. Cash in hand, they located this spot right alongside the Mercado de Arroios food market and opened the doors in September 2017.
We worked our way through two of the set-dinner menus and delighted in every bite of excellent kibbeh (fried meatballs with bulgur and walnuts), luscious baba ganoush and hummus, and lamb kebabs with gently spiced rice strewn with cashew nuts. The setting is laid-back and casual, and the delicious cuisine suits a warm and leisurely Lisbon evening brilliantly.
• From the August edition of Wanted 2019.