For somebody who enjoys finding quirky craft beer bars wherever I travel, I was forced to change my ways a little when my gluten-freegan* of a sister came to visit. From the beginning I could tell that travelling with her would be different, discovering that McDonald’s here had gluten-free McMuffins (gasp!).
*A family joke to describe the Coeliacs amongst us.
Arriving in Lisbon, we climbed the stairs to our fourth-floor apartment in Chiado, before enjoying a late lunch at our mum’s new home of garlic prawns (I think she went there each one of our 8 days), Carmo. After a little wander, Mum retired to the apartment and my sister and I went to discover some great cocktails at Red Frog Speakeasy, an underground bar that creates creative cocktails to enjoy in a quiet and cosy environment. I ordered the Spiced Rusty Cherry (pictured below), which came out on a block of wood that was smoking, infusing the cocktail with a woody aroma I could taste with every sip. My sister’s choice arrived with a jalapeño on the side. We stayed for another round, enjoying the no-phone rule, and our view of the bartender making his wonderful creations.
In the morning we discovered Fabrica Coffee Roasters, where we went nearly every morning before exploring the beautiful city. Mum was desperate for Portuguese custard tarts, so we headed to Pastéis de Belém to fetch some of the originals. We had to make a Coeliac stop-off at Zarzuela Pastelaria to stock up on custard tarts sem glúten on the way.
The next few nights followed the same pattern, with Mum going to bed early while my sister and I discovered the cool bars around the city. I had been dying to try Duque Brewpub, which was three minutes from our apartment, but they didn’t have any gluten-free beers or ciders, so we went to a cute little wine bar around the corner, where we sat on giant corks and enjoyed a drink. We wandered around the neighbourhood and ended up at Delirium Tremens Bar where my sister was presented with not one, but two gluten-free beer options. I scoured the pages of local and international beer options, but after some time I decided to have some Delirium while I was there. We sat surrounded by the pink elephants for hours, singing along with the staff to their great music playlist. I’m always impressed when a bar has the matching beer glass for all their taps beers, and this one even had every single matching coaster. The bartender even gave me a few different Delirium coasters to take home for my collection.
I was thoroughly impressed by some of the local Portuguese beers I came across, especially those with creative names like Twist and Stout, Born in the IPA, and Mick Lager by Musa. Also worth mentioning: Letra, and Dois Corvos. There were so many others that I didn’t get a chance to try, but I highly recommend Duque Brewpub for all your Portuguese beers. Not far from there, also with a great selection of bottles, is The Beer Station. Many a small bar had local craft-beers available, so I can’t list them all! I was excited to go to LisBeer also, but it seemed every time I was in the area it was closed.
If you’re feeling like a break from beer, you have to go to Pop Cereal Café, where they’ll whip you up a great treat from their huge selection of cereals and toppings. I chose the Fruit Loop concoction from the menu, and it did not disappoint! On top of that, they also offered a large selection of gluten-free options, and the staff were super helpful in explaining which toppings were gluten-free.
Aside from that, we went to Copenhagen Coffee Lab, which was fantastic, apart from the Scandinavian prices. For awesome burgers accompanied by nice cocktails, “to burger or not to burger?” is not a question. In close proximity as well as competition is The B Temple. Both of these have gluten-free options available. I also recommend trying out some of the food options inside the Mercado Da Ribeira while in Lisbon. If you have the time, you should get to Sintra and Cascais, and you can even stop at Cabo da Roca in between to see the western-most point of Europe.
All I can say is don’t go to Portugal on a diet. It’s just not going to happen. If you’re a Coeliac, however, you’ll be just fine. Most people speak English well, and most places have a good knowledge of sem glúten. One more tip: when a menu states no pão it doesn’t mean no bread…it means on bread. We learnt that the hard way.