welcome to emmas housethought

more coffee? the great cafés of lisbon

I hope you noticed the cafes where I shot the coffee post. They are my favourite cafes of Lisbon. All old, full of history and intrigue.

Café Versailles. avenida da república 15, at sardanha. Café meia de leite €1.20
Surely the grandest dame of them all, the Versailles is pure blue-rinse glamour. Mirrored, chandeliered and bejewelled, and with a pastelaria counter running the entire length of the interior, well… ’tis positively palacial. Good place to take visiting royals.


Padaria Sao Roque, rua dom pedro v, between sao roque and principe real. Bica 55c:
Say you’re down on Avenida Liberdade, at Restauradores, hungry and needing coffee. You could take the Elevador da Gloria up to Bairro Alto. At the top you take a few pics at the big lookout, keep walking up the road, past some antique shops. Cross the road, on a little corner of a laneway called rua da rosa is this little character-filled gem. Their bread, pastries and baked savouries are great, but you might have to divert your eyes from the confectionery delight of the interior design to order. Some seriously nice tiles with your bica.

cafe pastelaria sao roque

Leitaria A Camponeza, rua dos sapateiros, baixa. Cafés garoto & carioca 55c:
This blue-tiled marvel is hard to miss on time-warp classic rua sapateiros, through the archway off Praça Dom Pedro IV (Rossio).

It has a lovely art nouveau interior. Opened in 1908. Somewhere to stop after visiting the art nouveau peep show place a few doors up.


A Brasileira, rua garret 120, chiado. Um Abatando €1.80
No doubt the most touristy on this list, and possibly the most expensive coffee in Portugal, the Brasileira is nonetheless a landmark with a fabulously neo-baroque ceiling. I know the Brasileiras in Porto and Braga and they are also standouts for interior design and bespoke furniture.


Confeitaria Naçional, praça da figueira 18B/C.   Um Galão €1.10
I don’t go to Lisbon without visiting the Naçional. Spectacular design inside and out but more importantly the most mouth-watering window selection of pastries in the country. No, make that the world. If heaven is like this I’d better start saying my prayers.

confeitaria naçional

Café Martinho Da Arcada, praça do comerçio. Um Bica/italiana/cortado 75c
The Martinho is homage to the idea that a café is far more than a place that serves coffee. If you are drinking coffee in Lisbon, you should have already met the poet Fernando Pessoa. Here he is at the Martinho, where coffee is poetry.



  1. Ana Teresa April 10, 2010 6:53 pm Reply

    I absolutely agree with you on Confeitaria Nacional. The best winter saturday morning in the world is at Confeitaria with a pot of “home made” hot chocolat pot.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 11th, 2010 at 4:27 am

    Home. Made. Chocolate. Pot. I wonder if there’s enough petrol in the car…

    [Reply to comment]

  2. Celia April 10, 2010 10:34 pm Reply

    I miss a good pica. My parents used to have a cafe in Portugal (near Lisbon) when I was little, before we moved to the States. They used to make really good picas, so I hear. I used to eat almost all of the pasteis de nata that would come in for the day. My signature way of eating them was to spoon the inside with a pica spoon, then eating the crust at the end. I still eat them this way anytime I get a chance to have one. I really miss my Portugal… Enjoy it for me, Emma. I enjoy reading your posts. Welcome back!

    [Reply to comment]

    Celia   Reply: April 10th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    No sure why I spelled BICA with a P!! Guess I’m not awake yet on this early Saturday morning. I’m off to go get some coffee now… lol

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 11th, 2010 at 4:23 am

    I ofeten feel a bit Pic – ey after a portuguese coffee or two… 🙂

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 11th, 2010 at 4:26 am

    it’s good to be back. love the spooning the custard technique…

    [Reply to comment]

  3. Anna April 11, 2010 12:51 pm Reply

    When I was in Portugal I went to the Café Versailles & loved it.
    I’m not a coffee drinker but their hot chocolate is to die for.
    It’s such a beautiful place.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 15th, 2010 at 1:31 am

    More votes for hot chocolate… now there’s more research to do…

    [Reply to comment]


  4. David April 11, 2010 6:05 pm Reply

    Hi Emma, as an aussie-born coffee roaster of Portuguese heritage I found your posts re coffee in Portugal to be superbly researched, written and photographed. My family is from Faro in the Algarve, I certainly miss the hot afternoons in summer lazily sitting at a road-side cafe with a bica & a water to try to revive…..

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 15th, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Thanks David.

    [Reply to comment]


  5. Linda Adrych April 13, 2010 7:09 pm Reply

    Love your research into coffee. When holidaying on the Algarve a few years ago my friend and I rated a coffee shop and area on the cost of a coffee.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 15th, 2010 at 1:26 am

    Thanks Linda, I’ve been trying to review the whole of the Beiras, but it’s too big and there are too many great cafes!

    [Reply to comment]

  6. judy Hill April 15, 2010 6:01 pm Reply

    Dear Emma, Your wonderful archives … I laugh and laugh and almost cry!
    Do you really often go to Confeitaria Nacionale? I love there, too. I am trying to figure how to make a cooky that is ONE of their prize wining specialties! It has candied fruit, nuts and spice galore. Each wears a printed bracelet of a paper proclaiming “meia lua”!

    I live in US and I can’t find a recipe for anything like it. It might have sweet potato in it..does this sound familiar to you as a genre of cooky in Portugal. Anything you can find out next time you visit would be really, really appreciated!

    I love the cathedral of pao sign at St Roque. So charming and delicious!

    I wish you the very best this spring! Judy

    [Reply to comment]

  7. sheabynature April 16, 2010 2:44 am Reply

    I found here a lot of easy ways to visit Lisbon. You made my day.

    [Reply to comment]


  8. Dee Hawa April 22, 2010 4:08 am Reply

    ditch the renovation work Emma, and do freelance journalism for
    ‘gourmet eating’ magazine, your a natural! Definately up to your usual standard.. as previously mentioned next an ‘in depth’ look at hot chocolate! Anyway.. where have your been recently! enjoy the spring Emma. Dee in southern Spain x

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 23rd, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Dee! Top advice! A paying job! You´re a genuis! Know anyone? My god, to be paid to eat… heaven

    [Reply to comment]

  9. Cristina May 13, 2010 1:21 pm Reply

    Another well-written and thoughtful post. I had almost forgotten about a couple of these cafes but the photos have brought back some good memories! Thanks.

    [Reply to comment]


  10. Rosa Maria June 11, 2010 9:12 am Reply

    Good photos and good text.
    Rosa Maria – Tomar – Portugal

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: June 13th, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Thanks and thanks again rosa maria 🙂

    [Reply to comment]

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