Any tradition where drinking champagne before noon is acceptable makes me bubbly.
While Lisbon is infamous for its pastelarias boasting deliciously strong coffee and pastries are the cheapest, sugary go-to breakfast of champions, the city has exploded with other establishments for when you want something a bit more sundry come brunch-time. If not the latter, if you have started to feel your cholesterol levels rising at the mere sight of another pastel de nata and you’ve developed five new cavities, it might be time to diversify your breakfast portfolio (and get to a dentist, but no bother).
These days, another new restaurant or café seems to sprout regularly, going neck-and-neck with every institutional kiosk and bakery. Not to worry, there is still an abundance of room here in Lisbon to have your nata and eat it too. Serving up everything from traditional Portuguese brunch dishes to the coveted avocado smash with creamy, oozy egg Benedict, here are the breakfast and brunch joints in Lisbon where we love to gather with friends for Mimosa toasts over freshly-baked, well, toast.
“Better food, better mood”, the tagline for Graça’s brunch-only café most-accurately depicts this not-so-hidden gem on Rua Santa M.nha. The name of the game is “eat well to feel good”, at Augusto Lisboa, “created by food lovers who are convinced that good food influences our mood and general well-being. Every day we give all our heart and love to prepare homemade dishes and serve tasty, fresh and healthy food with the best quality ingredients.” Open from 9am to 4pm everyday but Wednesdays, Augusto is the embodiment of brunch. While there are a variety of tasty dishes including Portuguese-style crusted cod over salad and cheese boards, the star of the show here are the toasts. Specifically, their signature avocado toast with smashed avocado, pickle thin carrots, scrambled eggs and homemade cream cheese, and/or the ham toast with premium Portuguese ham, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, black olives, and homemade tomato garlic sauce. I alternate between the two, and have returned often enough to ask Chef Mauricio to combine the avocado with the ham (when they aren’t too busy, a rarity unless you go before 11am), for a mouth-watering ham-avo- hybrid. Smashing.
Get the royal treatment while you munch on brunch. With its cute ambiance, particularly the backyard dining area, which (fun fact!) is the first sustainable vertical garden built in Portugal 13 years ago by Swedish designer, Amazonas, this Chiado haunt is truly original. With its unique Portuguese and Mediterranean flavours fused into classic brunch items, you can’t go wrong when selecting everything from the hummus with drool-worthy toast points to start then follow it up with poached eggs with salmon, bacon or the delectable farinheira sausage. Fancy a “Full English” breakfast? You can get that as well here, along with a beverage of your choice, (plus a dessert if you like, but I double down on bacon and bubbles instead) included on the brunch menu. Tchau bica, bom dia, Bellini!
Before Santos was the buzzing whir of activity it is today, there was just one option for brunch. These days one can’t walk two feet without tripping over restaurants, however, you will still find Heim is always packed, and not just because it’s a tiny place. Good things do come in small packages, so get in the queue and don’t complain about the wait, which you will forget about as soon as you sample the eats. The flavour-filled eggs, beaten every which way are as addictive as a Netflix-binge. Often great art—from music to visual arts to gastronomy—is found by way of simplicity, the art of restraint and not overthinking. Case and point: Heim came to fruition by two Ukrainians who always wanted to live by the sea. It was that simple: and the flocks of diners proves that we appreciate the lack of thinking required to order at Heim, so we can get straight to the eating. You can choose from four options starting at 14 euros… yellow, blue, red and green, (the green one is vegetarian). Each option includes those aforementioned delectable eggs, juice, home-made granola with yoghurt, fruit salad, and a choice between waffles or pancakes. You can skip dinner if you brunch late enough at Heim.
What started as a Lisbon viewpoint lemonade stand, quickly grew into a café on yet another charming street in the Graça area. While the lemonade remains on the menu, Maria Limão burst onto Lisbon’s brunch sect, focussing on delicious crêpes and pancakes. For those with a sweet tooth, the Nutella and strudel crêpes are indeed a must-try. Save room though, because Maria Limão has a sumptuous savoury section too, offering everyone’s favourite repeat offenders on this—and any true-to-form-brunch—list: hummus, guacamole, smoked, salmon. Bonus: Both sweet and savoury options costs are in the under-six-euros each range.
Bowls & Bar
Silly name for a restaurant? That’s the idea, and the reason I ever went for brunch here in the first place. While the namesake sounds like a cannabis-shopper’s paradise it is anything but, (although the tasty selections found on the menu would cure munchies, I’m sure). Open from 9am to 10pm, serving all-day breakfast/lunch bowls, appetisers, comfort food, specialty coffee, natural wine, detox smoothies, and cocktails, Bowls & Bar is high quality, high variety, and tasty enough that one needn’t be high on anything to devour everything on the menu. Found on Rua de São Bento, don’t miss the tapas, and/or any of their signature brunches in bowls titled: Meat brunch, Vegetarian brunch and Fish brunch…guess what you will find in each?
With locations from Cascais to Santos to Alvalade, and more, you can find this extremely tasty yet very healthy kitchen all over Lisbon. Fair play considering Local’s mission statement actually states: “Our aim is to serve tasty and healthy meals. It is creating recipes that taste good and do well, presenting solutions for those who have restrictions or choose alternatives in the diet.” I have never tasted pancakes (let alone gluten-free pancakes!) so scrumptious in my life. That said, I haven’t tasted anything here that didn’t make me groan out a big, “yummm”, it is the place to get your brunch fix, guilt-free and locally. Full stop.
Now that you are drooling all over this newspaper, you may go forth and use it as a bib at brunch.