As Portugal’s economy strengthens, more visitors are supporting restaurants old and new. (@IshayGovender), For Business Day, May 2018
Strewn across the Seven Hills, Lisbon’s azulejo (ceramic tile)-covered buildings stack together forming countless arches through which the famous yellow eléctricos, or trams pass, rickety over the cobblestones that are shiny with wear.
The city’s transformation, immediately evident in the towering cranes to rival Manhattan (or Camps Bay) bending over these once-dilapidated buildings, transforming them into hotels or luxury apartments for short-term rentals, is fairly recent. Until 2015 Portugal was in the grip of an economic crisis after the catastrophic crash of 2010.
One of the sectors to recover, hand-in-hand with tourism, has been the restaurant industry. Now it’s common to stand in two-hour queues at the height of summer for bowls of ceviche at chef Kiko Martin’s A Cevicheria in Príncipe Real’s hip Rua Dom Pedro V; to three-month waiting lists for a table at lauded chef José Avillez’s Michelin two-star restaurant, Belcanto; or to swig beer-while-you-wait bought with plastic booze tokens at the no-reservation ticket system Cervejaria Ramiro, the city’s shrine to the finest seafood, in a working man’s tavern. From trendy to old-school, meat-eaters to vegans, in Lisbon there’s a restaurant or hole-in-the-wall diner to suit your taste and budget, and reciprocally, a market to support it, it would seem.