Anthony Bourdain Visits Lisbon in “No Reservations”

In 2012, Anthony Bourdain visited Lisbon as part of his “No Reservations” TV show. We’ve already written about Rick Stein’s visit to Lisbon, so I thought I would go back and re-watch this episode and write about the restaurants, bars, and cafés that Bourdain visited on the show.

This was a really great episode to watch. While Rick Stein’s visit to Lisbon focused almost exclusively on the food in Lisbon, Anthony Bourdain took his viewers on a journey through Portuguese culture (read: pessimism) as well.

I think I first watched this show back in 2013, and it’s interesting to see just how much Lisbon has changed during that time. When this was filmed, Portugal was deep in a recession. Cervejaria Ramiro was a drab, working man’s seafood restaurant that very few foreigners had heard of.

Fast forward to today and Portugal is out of, or almost out of a recession. Lisbon almost certainly is. Since around 2014, tourism has boomed in Lisbon as people from all over the world have flocked here. Cervejaria Ramiro is no longer the hole in the wall place that it was. Go today and you’ll find a queue of people waiting outside, many of them tourists. When you get inside, you’ll be given a menu…on an iPad. It’s a completely different world to what it was back then.

Restaurants & places Anthony Bourdain visited

I’ve put together a list of all the restaurants, bars, and cafés that Anthony Bourdain visited while he was in Lisbon so you can visit them for yourself.

Cervejaria Ramiro

Cervejaria Ramiro is probably the most popular seafood restaurant (usually called cervejarias or marisquieras) in Lisbon. And, it’s good. A lot of its popularity does come from the fact that it was featured on No Reservations — it was popular before that, but nowhere near as much.

Even though it’s not the hidden gem it once was, the food at Cervejaria Ramiro is still great. Take a leaf out of Bourdain’s book and enjoy specialty seafood dishes like goose barnacles, crab, and tiger prawns. Then, for desert, finish off with a prego (a steak sandwich).

You’ll need to queue to get in here. The restaurant opens at 12 pm so, if you’re going for lunch, try and get there as close to 12 as possible. The same applies for dinner: the earlier than you can get there, the better.

A Tasca do Chico (Fado)

No trip to Lisbon is complete without listening to some Fado. Fado is traditional Portuguese folk music. It’s often soulful and mournful, but at the same time it’s incredibly beautiful: as sad as some of the lyrics are, you won’t leave a fado show feeling depressed.

A Tasca do Chico is the fado house that Bourdain visited. It’s situated in the Bairro Alto, a fun and lively part of Lisbon that’s packed with lots of small bars and restaurants. Here, in the Bairro Alto, you can grab a beer or caipirinha and wander the narrow streets while soaking in the late-night buzz.

Bourdain sat down with author Antonio Lobo Antunes at A Tasca do Chio. Some of his books have been translated into English, and you can easily find them on Amazon

Squid & Octopus Fishing on the Tejo

Unfortunately, only Anthony Bourdain knows the guys that he went squid and octopus fishing with. And, there aren’t many fishing trips that focus specifically on squid or octopus — it’s often something that you just end up catching.

If you want to go fishing while you’re in Lisbon, however, you can book fishing trips through sites like Expedia and Viator. Maybe you’ll end up with an octopus or a squid in your catch!

Sol E Pesca

When this was being filmed, Cais do Sodré was a completely different part of town. It’s amazing the gentrification that has happened in that short amount of time, particularly since the Time Out Food Market moved into the area. Thankfully, places like Sol E Pesca are still there, and available for you to visit.

Sol E Pesca specialise in canned seafood products: here, you can order a few different tapas made from tinned food along with a beer or a glass of wine. To those not from the South of Europe, the idea of eating tinned food (especially at a restaurant) is horrifying. But, tinned food from Spain and Portugal is very different to tinned food from the North of Europe. Here, it’s not just tuna in brine and tinned potatoes, but things like squid, swordfish, anchovies, and roe. It takes a while to get over your initial reservations, but it’s worth giving it a try.

The band member Bourdain speaks to is from a band called Dead Combo. You can find their music on Youtube and Spotify. 

Riding a tram in Lisbon

Riding one of the old-fashioned trams is a fun way to get from A to B. Most tourists that visit Lisbon ride Tram 28, which goes through many of the historical and most scenic parts of the city. It’s very touristic and, because of this, you’ll need to be wary of pickpockets.

Keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine. You’ll see a lot of people sticking their iPhones and iPads out the window, stupidly flashing their prized possessions. As long as you’re not like them, you should be fine.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to get on Tram 28, you’ll see plenty of these trams making their way through the city. Hop on one and see where it takes you. You can always take it back the other way if it doesn’t lead you anywhere interesting.

A Ginjinha

A Ginjinha is one the most popular places to try Ginjinha (or Ginja), a sweet liqueur made from ginja berries (sour cherries) and aguardente alcohol. It’s often served in a chocolate cup, so you get the pleasure of eating your cup afterward.

  • Website: None (TripAdvisor Reviews)
  • Address: Largo São Domingos 8, 1100-201 Lisboa, Portugal

Cantinho do Avillez

José Avillez’ Cantinho do Avillez is one of Lisbon’s most popular restaurants. With its urban bistro look, it offers an affordable but high-quality menu of contemporary Portuguese dishes.

This isn’t Avillez’ only restaurant in Lisbon. His main restaurant, Belcanto, has 2 Michelin Stars and has also been featured in publications like Restaurant Magazine, Condé Nast Traveller International, and WINE magazine.

Cantino do Avillez is less formal and more affordable. If you enjoy it and want to try some of Avillez’ other restaurants, he also operates Pizzaria Lisboa, Ja em casa (a takeaway in Cascais), Mini Bar, Bairro do Avillez, and Beco – Cabaret Gourmet.

100 Maneiras restaurant

Another Lisbon fine-dining institution, Ljubomir Stanisic’s 100 Maneiras offers a tasting menu with a big emphasis on the visual aspect of the experience. They’re also well-known for their cocktails and wine-pairing so, if you do visit, expect a sore head in the morning.

Mercado de Alvalade Norte

Mercado de Alvalade Norte is just one of the main fresh produce markets you’ll find around Lisbon where you can purchase fish, vegetables, and meat. This market is situated a little out of the way for most visitors and, if you want to visit, you’ll need to make a special pilgrimage to get there.

If you don’t fancy going all that way, there are plenty of other markets around Lisbon that you can visit. For example the market at Cais do Sodré, where the Time Out Food Market is located. You’ll probably end up in this part of town anyway, to visit any of the restaurants in Cais do Sodré or the Time Out Market itself. It has a great selection of fruit and vegetables, meat and fish — it might not be as big as Mercado de Alvalade Norte, but it’s still a pretty big market.

  • Website: N/A
  • Address: Av. Rio de Janeiro 25, 1700-111 Lisboa, Portugal

O Trevo

The bifana, a bread roll filled with thin pork and topped with mustard, is one of Portugal’s best inventions. It’s cheap (it usually costs around €2) and flavoursome, and you can get it in just about any café in Portugal. Whether you eat it sober or not, it’s always delicious — although that might have something to do with the lard that many cafés use in their recipe.

You’ll probably be near Praça Luís de Camões, where O Trevo is located, on some point during your trip to Lisbon. If not, you can get them in almost any café in Lisbon. Some places, BDO – Bifanas Bar in Cais Do Sodré, have taken the burger bar concept and begun offering all kinds of variations on the original.

Watch the No Reservations episode online

If you haven’t already watched the full episode, you can find it on Netflix. We also managed to find a full episode on YouTube. The quality on both Youtube and Netflix is pretty good; not HD, but good enough.

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James has spent time living in Lisbon, the Algarve, and in the north of Portugal. He set up Portugalist to share his knowledge about Portugal, a country that has surprisingly little written about it.

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