The fanciest restaurants, from trendy Bica do Sapato (Av. Infante Dom Henrique, Armazém B; 351-21/ 881-0320) to the leading homegrown chef José Avillez’s Michelin-starred Belcanto (Largo de São Carlos 10; 351-21/342-0607), divide opinion enough to make one want to seek out the simple, because there’s little dispute over which salt-of-the-earth eateries are the best in town. Everything is closed on Monday nights—except Solar dos Presuntos (Rua Portas de Santo Antão 150; 351-21/342-4253), which serves up classic Portuguese cooking and has the longest line in the city, and Bota Alta (Travessa da Queimada 37; 351-21/342-7959), where diners sit cheek-by-jowl, devouring the cod, wine-soaked Alentejo pork and lamb dishes. Nobody eats before 9 p.m., not even at the city’s most popular restaurants—including Pap’Açorda (Rua da Atalaia 57; 351-21/ 346-4811), which is well regarded for a delicious peasant bread stew with prawns and a chocolate mousse scooped from a huge silver bowl. And then there’s noisy Cervejaria Ramiro (Av. Almirante Reis 1; 351-21/885-1024) , with its 1970s-style wood veneer interior and paper tablecloths. Its menu is fish sold by weight; specialties include poached barnacles, clams and scarlet prawns. The number of single diners— elegant ladies of a certain age, policemen, office workers—says everything about why this restaurant matters. That said, a small number of the neighborhood favorites don’t take reservations, forcing early arrivals. Three other places for a pit stop: Pastéis de Belém (Rua de Belém 84-92; 351-21/363-7423): touristic because it’s iconic, but also brimming with Lisbonites who come for the warm, creamy custard tarts (it sells 21,000 a day) and coffee served from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. within a warren of 17th-century blue-and-white-tile-covered walls. Sea Me (Rua do Loreto 21; 351-21/346-1564) in Chiado, the main downtown shopping area (grab a seat at the bar and order the grilled sardine nigiri sushi with a glass of green wine) and the fuchsia-pink Quiosque de Refresco (1Praça de São Paulo; 351-21/395-8329), a snack kiosk reminiscent of those from late-19th-century Lisbon, near Chiado, for some old-fashioned Portuguese lemonade.
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