Kevin Raub is a Portugal-based travel journalist who has scoured the globe for a variety of publications, including Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Departures, and Time Out: São Paulo, among others.
Recently he was working on updating Lonely Planet’s Lisbon guide as well as Travel & Leisure’s, so he’s perfectly ‘in the know’!
Having been to over 600 establishments in the city – probably more than any local, he’s obviously a trusted source of information and knows what’s hot and what’s not.
Here’s what he has to say on the city of 7 hills:
– Secret location?
In the city, I love the little stone arched cafe and gardens inside the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga – it’s very easy to visit the museum and never even know it’s there. Outside the city, Aldeia da Mata Pequena outside Mafra is simply astounding and most folks haven’t heard of it!
– Best view?
Just one? My favorite is probably from atop Cristo Rei across the river in Almada – all of Lisbon is spread before you.
– A guilty pleasure?
I don’t believe in guilt, only pleasure.
– What’s the weirdest thing you’ve experienced in Lisbon?
Just the other day there was a Carris supervisor on the bus (suit and tie, not the driver!) and the bus was being held up by some commotion in the front. By the time I started paying attention, I realized there was a drunk guy causing a ruckus. All of the sudden, the Carris supervisor decided he had heard/seen enough and in one fluid motion, tossed the guy straight out of the bus and onto the sidewalk just like in the movies!
– Where can we find you on any given Sunday?
Riding my bike along the coast between Lisbon and Cascais – it’s one of Europe’s most underrated and gorgeous shorelines. Or wandering around Principe Real, with its charming plazas like Praça das Flores and Jardim do Príncipe Real. For me, it’s Lisbon’s most exciting neighborhood.
– A trend for Lisbon’s future?
Craft beer is finally starting to catch on around here and Lisboetas are starting to realize there is actually beer in the world, not flavorless swill like Sagres and Super Bock. Craft breweries like Dois Corvos and Oitava Colina, bars like Cerveteca Lisboa and brewpubs like Duque and Chimera are popping up faster than weeds these days and this is only going to continue to grow.
– Favourite drink in the city?
My single favorite drink thus far are the Aperol Spritz’s, specifically the Hugo, at Tasca Mastai in Bairro Alto. It’s such a charming spot, too, and feels a bit off the radar and certainly not trashy like many of the bars in that neighborhood. Favorite places to drink include Cerveteca Lisboa (craft beer), Park and Foxtrot (cocktails) and Lisbon Winery and BA Wine Bar (wine). Oh, but wait! Sangria! On any esplanade anywhere with a river view!
– Where do you like to unwind?
The spa, without a doubt. It’s probably the only time I do actually unwind.
– Something you cannot resist?
The damn olives and cheese! You know, the ones that show up at your table unannounced at every meal as the couvert. I’m a sucker for it every time. If the olives are seasoned in-house, I’ll never say no!
– What can you do here & nowhere else?
Drink amazing wines at insanely cheap prices. I don’t know of any place in the world where you can get a great glass of wine for €3 and a great bottle for under €15 in a restaurant. It’s unbelievable, really.
– Someone NOT to be stuck in an elevator with?
– What was the first thing about Lisbon that captivated you when you first moved here?
The sheer beauty of it and its remarkable history. Just wandering the streets with no particular place to go and seeing and smelling the history around every corner. And the viewpoints! Everywhere you turn, another insane view!
– How do you get around in the city when out exploring?
On foot without a doubt. I quickly realized that Lisbon is actually a pretty small and compact city and getting around on foot will always be my preference under those circumstances.
– In your research for Lonely Planet Portugal do you have any idea how many restaurants, cafés and bars you visited in and around Lisbon? If you had to name a few, what would they be?
I cannot break it down by just bars, restaurants and cafes but if you include everything (hotels, post offices, tourist offices, museums, etc), then it would be over 600! As for my favorite meals along the way? I would say Alma, Belcanto, Casa de Pasto, Feitoria, Bistro 100 Maneiras, Cantinho Lusitano, Taberna da Rua das Flores, Solar dos Presuntos,
Ti-Natércia, Prego da Peixaria and anything at Mercado da Ribeira. Was that a few?
– Favourite Portuguese dish and/or dessert?
I’m still working on this! If I had to pick today it would be a three-way tie between a seafood cataplana, bacalhau à Brás and arroz de pato. My favorite dessert is the chocolate cake at Landeau with gelato at Nannarela a close second.
– How has the research for the new Portugal Lonely Planet guide been different from other guides you’ve researched?
The sheer volume of information that needed to be updated. I have researched much bigger cities than Lisbon (Mumbai, Lima, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, etc) but never a city that had as much space in a guide as Lisbon does. And something new opens every week! I’m not used to thinking I am finished and then see the news that yet another amazing bar, restaurant, hotel etc has opened and back out in the streets I go to check it out!
– A favourite viewpoint in Lisbon?
I’m going to go with Senhora do Monte. Not only is it the highest but it was my first – when we first arrived in Lisbon, we stayed at an Air B&B in Graca just down the street from the viewpoint and on my first morning, I was a little jet lagged and woke up early and wandered up there around sunrise and had it all to my myself on a clear and crisp winter day. I was hooked.
– A favourite day trip?
It’s too easy and a bit cliché but Sintra, of course. It’s just such a magical place, rain or shine. You feel as though you have wandered off into a fairy tale. I really enjoyed Mafra, too, and gnawing on fresh seafood at Praia da Adraga!
– Will you be staying on after concluding the guide? If so, what made you want to stay on?
Yes! I have my carta de residência now! 🙂 We have moved here after 8 years in Brazil. We needed a change of scenery. So far, it’s been amazing!