Lisbon, Day One: unofficial guided tour, lunch at O Piteu

Lisbon, Day One

Lisbon, Day One

As promised previously, here is the start to the saga of our incredible trip to Portugal.  The picture above of the lovely azulejo mural in Restaurante O Piteu gives you a small taste of what a great day it was.  Our lunch there was wonderful, but lots happened before we got there!

We had arranged to meet Nina Clara Tiesler, our hostess, at a little cafe called Parreinrinha de Sao Vicente, so upon arriving in Lisbon airport, we made our way through customs and got a taxi, showing the driver the address and hoping he wouldn’t try to pull any funny business.  Well, he took us where we asked him to go, but when we paid for our 11 Euro fare with a 20 Euro bill, he only gave 2 Euros in change, thinking we wouldn’t notice.  Unfortunately, this was not the last time a taxi driver tried to rip us off – a rare negative in a trip that was overwhelmingly wonderful.  Anyway, we did notice what was happening, we argued with him, he gave in and gave us the proper change, lecturing us in Portuguese the whole time.

We found a seat in the cafe, luggage in tow, and waited for Nina.  Therese ordered a coffee.  Nina came after a couple of minutes and before leaving the cafe, got us a couple of rolls – the cafe has fresh bread baked on the premises that is dirt cheap – 4 rolls cost just a little more than a Euro.

From there we walked just around the corner to the apartment building and got into the tiny elevator with our luggage, and there we were, in the Rosa Residence, our first vacation apartment rented through Airbnb.  From the first moment, we were tremendously impressed both with Nina and with the apartment.

I thought that after giving us the lay of the land, Nina would hand us the keys and we would be on our own, but this was not what was in store for us.  Over the next couple of hours, Nina gave us a tour of the neighborhood, making sure we had everything we needed!  She showed us where some local restaurants we should visit were – Dragao de Alfama, a place for Fado, and Gato Pardo, a nice little bistro where we stopped and had some iced teas.

Then we walked to where her car was, and she drove us a short distance to Rua da Graca, to show us where the markets were and also load up some cards for the public transportation (the Viva Viagem that everyone in Lisbon uses) so we could take the tram and buses and funiculars.  Nina had some cards from previous visitors that had a little bit of money still on them, but not enough to keep us going for long. The shop where we got our cards filled up, Pastelaria Estrela da Graca, was a delightful pastry shop, with some pure white delectable meringues in the window, so we resolved to come back later in the week to get some desserts!

With full metro cards in hand, Nina then walked down Rua da Graca with us to point out the butcher shops and fishmonger and produce store and the Pingo Doce supermarket where we could get everything if the other smaller stores were closed.  We were excited: the prospect of buying groceries and cooking in our apartment was thrilling.

O Piteu Restaurant

O Piteu Restaurant

Pork loin, fries and rice

Pork loin, fries and rice

Grilled fish

Grilled fish

Pot of rice

Pot of rice

Before leaving us, Nina dropped us off at the wonderful local restaurant, O Piteu.  She later told us that when her in-laws, who are restaurateurs in their own right, come to visit, they always eat at O Piteu.  We could tell that it was a quality restaurant.  I brought out my phrase letting them know about my dairy allergy, and our waiter responded in English, letting me know it would be no problem.  He gave us a real sense of professionalism, calling the restaurant “my restaurant”.  And he took care of us very well.  Therese had fish, and I had grilled pork loin, and the two of us shared a pot of rice with vegetables.  We each had a small bottle of wine – not the wisest decision, drinking wine after an international flight and no sleep, but you know, we might have been going on fumes by then, but we were having such a great time that we didn’t care.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t take our leftover wine with us! because it was very good (our first taste of wine from the Alentejo region).  But we were able to take our leftover rice with us – it formed the base for our dinner back at the apartment that night.  I already told you about our adventure getting groceries and cooking for the first time in our Alfama apartment.  It was just as much fun as I imagined it would be.

And I can’t say enough about how welcome Nina made us feel.  I’m sure I will have lots to say about her and the apartment as I continue the story of our journey.  She made herself available to us during our stay, and answered many questions, and just helped us immeasurably.  I don’t know if all Airbnb apartment owners are as helpful as Nina was, but having her as our first hostess set the bar very high for our expectations of our future Airbnb experiences!

About Karl Peterson

Karl Peterson is an avid traveler, passionate about food and food-related entertainment, completely allergic to dairy. He is founder, owner and principle contributor to “The Dairy Free Traveler” blog. The Dairy Free Traveler perfectly dovetails two of his greatest areas of interest: traveling near and far, and searching for great cuisine (especially dairy free!)

The Dairy Free Traveler publishes original material about the dairy free lifestyle, eating the best food in the most interesting destinations around the world. Karl’s tours take him from thriving New York City, to exotic Marrakesh, to elegant Paris bistros — (yes! even Parisians have gotten on the dairy free bandwagon.)

The Dairy Free Traveler himself also engages with independent dairy free food producers, highlighting new dairy free product launches and events that support dairy free entrepreneurs.

Peterson is among the top 7 most widely read TripAdvisor reviewers in New York City and is repeatedly cited as a Top Contributor at His reviews have garnered more than 542,000 readers — half in the U.S., and half among the many countries he has visited around the world.

Beyond writing this blog, Peterson is a published author, with contributions to “Savoring Gotham” edited by Andrew F. Smith (published 2015 by Oxford University) and the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Cheese (a bit ironic, yes, but a professional is often asked to stretch beyond their comfort zone!).

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6 Responses to Lisbon, Day One: unofficial guided tour, lunch at O Piteu

  1. Pingback: Hello from Portugal | The Dairy Free Traveler

  2. salty says:

    That’s why and have a taxi reservation possibility, so you don’t get ripped off, Build form experience 🙂

    • Karl Peterson says:

      Believe me, after that first experience, we carried around small bills and loose change with us, so we could pay exact change for our taxi rides. The one other guy who tried to rip us off caved pretty quickly when we called him on it. We understand – Lisbon is going through desperate times, and some people are resorting to desperate behavior.

      Even in my home city of New York, I sometimes get taxi drivers trying to rip me off – usually by taking routes that will take longer and drive up the cost of the fare. Just two days ago I had that happen, and had to get in an argument with the driver to get him to take me home by the most direct route.

  3. salty says:

    build from not build form 😀

  4. Rfv says:

    Actually those taxi drivers’ attitude are not related at all with financial crisis. It’s just their bad behaviour. They are doing it way before the crisis.

    • Karl Peterson says:

      Whatever their motivation, that is something to watch out for. Lisbon is not alone of course when it comes to encountering occasional unscrupulous behavior. In Marrakech, Morocco, we met a shopkeeper in the souks who tried to stiff us. As soon as we mentioned the police, his nephew who had taken our large bill somewhere, ostensibly to get change, magically re-appeared, and with our change.

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