The Portuguese capital is renowned for its diverse restaurant scene. But what if you’re only in the mood for a quick snack? Well, that’s no problem. Here is a convenient at-a-glance guide to where best to savour some of the freshest and tastiest sandwiches in Lisbon.
At the upscale Royale Café in Chiado, they serve a deliciously healthy barley bread sandwich of smoked salmon topped with queijo da serra – mouth watering sheep’s milk cheese from Portugal’s Serra da Estrela mountains – and garnished with rocket and various herbs.
In fact, customers at the Royale have a choice of cheese and salad fillings wrapped in either spelt or barley bread, or the café’s own mini royale bread. And if you’ve a sweet tooth, the jam options include apple, tomato and pumpkin varieties, plus honey and chocolate. Scrumptious!
The easy-going atmosphere at Orpheu Caffé has made this quaint eatery a favourite with locals. Situated on Praça do Príncipe Real, Orpheu readily promotes traditional Portuguese fare and the menu positively shines with fresh regional produce. The sandwiches made here reflect the owner’s culinary patriotism. Try the sandes presunto alentejano, requeijão de Ceia, comporta de figos do Norte e nozes ou passas – a delightful combination of cured Alentejo ham and ricotta style cheese with figs from northern Portugal topped with a sprinkling of nuts. The café’s decoration is equally eclectic, with antique furniture spread over a polished wooden floor and illuminated with stylish, contemporary lighting.
Over at Fábulas Café, the sandwich menu is predominantly filled with cheese – Portuguese as well as French and Italian varieties. The Brie and goat’s cheese combination with spinach known as “Popeye” is sublime. They also do tostas here, toasted sandwiches using traditional pão mafra (a bread from the historic town of Mafra, in central Portugal). Again, cheese is king and in fact Fábulas (the word means “fables”) is a great place for vegetarians. There is one exception: Romeu, a chicken sandwich with queijo flamengo – a kind of Edam. Fábulas is in Chiado, off the busy Rua Garrett and is a favourite lunchtime haunt. It’s also a cyber café so expect the laptop brigade.
One of downtown Lisbon’s most popular sandwich bars is Nova Pombalina. This no-nonsense café in Rua do Comércio is where lisboatas come to sample the house speciality, the sandes de leitão – roast pork sandwich. Tender and succulent, this is a hearty snack best taken with a glass of ice-cold beer. You’ll need a napkin or two at hand; it can be an oily exercise. Equally appetizing but a lot less greasy is the salpicão (spicy sausage) with queijo de Castelo Branco, a sharp cheese from a town in the Beira region of Portugal. It’s all good fun and great value for money.
More discerning visitors to Lisbon seeking a memorable sandwich experience with a riverside view will have to travel east out of the city to Deli Delux, a smart, fashionable eatery on Avenida Infante D.Henrique. The treat here is the tramezinno – soft white Italian bread wrapped around thin slices of smoked turkey breast from Germany garnished with mayonnaise, pickles and lemon – one of the best fillings in town. Actually, Deli Delux is noted for its brunch menu and at weekends especially, the quayside tables are quickly taken. The adjoining delicatessen stocks a tempting range of national and international gourmet goodies.
An equally conducive riverfront café is found on the other side of town at À Margem, in Belém. Here they conjure up a beautifully prepared lightly toasted pita bread sandwich crammed with presunto pata negra (black pork ham), Spanish Manchego cheese and crispy rúcula (rocket). The place itself is a stylish glass and white rectangle building of minimalist design located near the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument, and the setting is perfect.