Joe Isidori, the NYC-based, Michelin-starred chef behind Jotoro in Tampa, counts Portuguese cuisine among his many influences. Here, he shares his top six culinary highlights from eating adventures in Portugal.
1. Marisco na Praça Mercado, Cascais
“By day, this restaurant has stalls that sell fish—and by night, they have tables where they serve fish. It’s like dining in the middle of a fish market. It’s very casual, with picnic-style tables, buckets of fresh shellfish, and crackers. The freshness and local nature of the food blew me away. You cannot get many of these dishes anywhere else in the world except for in this region. Don’t miss the santiaguiños or slipper lobster.” —Rua Padre Moises Da Silva, Mercado Da Vila, Cascais
2. Marisqueira Uma, Lisbon
“Uma is a very old-school restaurant still run by one family. The old man on the floor serves patrons, his brother is in the kitchen cooking, their wives serve food, and their nephew works behind the bar. A true family-run restaurant is something that doesn’t really happen anymore—especially in the United States. In Lisbon, you go to a restaurant to get its specialty dish. Uma is known for its “arroz de marisco” or paella, which is very ocean-like. Usually paella is rich, bold, and fluffy, but there’s was salty, briny, and soupy.” — Rua Dos Sapateiros 177, Lisbon
3. Restaurante O Churrasco, Lisbon
“O Churrasco is a big, banquet-style restaurant, full of locals smoking cigarettes and drinking Portuguese beer. Igor, the chef, stood in front of a big charcoal fire pit roasting nothing but chicken. I loved the piri-piri chicken. It was salty and smoky and coated with olive oil and sea salt. The chicken had a gamier flavor than usual because it was locally raised.” — Rua das Portas de Santo Antao 83/85, Lisbon
4. Hamburgueria de Bairro, Cascais
“This burger joint had more of a modern feel. I got the sense that hamburgers were a trend in Portugal—just like everywhere else in the world. The menu was written out on a chalkboard and the room and décor reflected a trendy style here, with communal tables and Ikea-style lighting. The hamburger was griddled, not grilled, and they use grass-fed meat, which had an amazing flavor. It was topped with some local Portuguese cheese, and I added chorizo to mine just to fit in with the locals. All in all, a thumbs up.” — Rua Alexandre Herculano, No. 11, Cascais
5. A Brasileira, Lisbon
“The ambiance of this café felt like you were stepping back in time, pre-1900. The cherry liquor along with the unctuous pastry made for the perfect snack. And a kick-you-in-the-butt espresso was a great pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon.” — Rue Garrett 120/122, Lisbon
6. Can the Can, Lisbon
“Billed as ‘canned food goes gourmet,’ this place was very art deco in style and decor. All they had to do was decorate the room with sardine cans, which was an art itself. What better gift to bring home than a taste of Portugal!” — Terreiro do Paço 82/83 , Lisbon
>>Next: Beyond Bacalhau: Tasting the Iconic Foods of Portugal
Jen Murphy Jen grew up in Pt. Pleasant, NJ (yes, the Shore), escaped to school in Boston, and fell in love with travel when she went abroad to study in Australia. After nearly ten years of eating and drinking herself silly in NYC, she finally reached the west coast. Things that makes her happy: the ocean, books, mountains, bikes, friends, good beer, ice cream, unplanned adventures, football, live music.