On our visit to Portugal in March 2017, we toured Sintra since the children wanted to visit Palácio Nacional de Sintra (National Palace/Royal Palace). It had rained all day which in retrospect, added to the fun of the trip. Luckily, we had packed umbrellas as I checked the weather forecast before we left for our trip. Next time, I’ll just pack ponchos though as it’s much easier for younger ones to handle in the rain. After touring the Royal Palace, we ended up in downtown Sintra for lunch. We certainly had a lot of “touristy” restaurant options but decided on Cafe Paris, a restaurant established in the 1945 and located in the historic Sintra Villa, very close to the Royal Palace. They claim to be the best in the area, and have served members of the European Royal Houses, Heads of State, writers, artists, and national and foreign intellectuals. We weren’t any of those but I figured since I was a writer, we could perhaps fit in. From the outside, it didn’t look spectacular, but that could have been because the rain made it so much harder to see the entire restaurant in its glory. Indoor was beautiful though, and I could see why they regard themselves very highly. We had a choice of indoor and outdoor seating, but we were really limited to dinning indoors since it had been raining all day.
Once we settled in our seats and absorbed the juxtaposition of a classic Parisian decor in a historic Portuguese location, and removed some of the excess glassware on our table for the children’s sake, we started with fresh juices which were customized based on our tastes. The juice bar (which was located right at the entrance of the restaurant next to their outdoor dessert shop) had at least 7-10 different types of fruits that you could juice in any combination you wanted – and all five of us ordered five different mixtures. Some of the juices turned out okay and some didn’t quite work, but I wouldn’t ding the restaurant on the taste of the juice, as the combinations had been our choice. And, since the juice was made from fresh fruit, that had to count for something.
We started with baguettes, olives, and a unique oil dip that was a mixture of tangy and sweet, something we weren’t used to, but no one really complained. Our “destination food rule” is that we all have to try local delicacies of any location we were in, so when in Lisbon and in a Parisian restaurant, eat like you’re in Lisbon. And we all did.
We worked through the menu, each person ordering something different and the children somehow sticking to a pasta base which was fine by us. One of the children ended up with pasta and meat sauce made the “Portuguese-way”. I guess that had to count as a local delicacy. Here are pictures of some of our meals.
Unfortunately I don’t have the exact names of what we ate and couldn’t find their menu either, but I can say that the serving portion sizes were sufficient, very seafood-based (cod fish especially), and the food tasted good.
Once we got done with our meal, we headed out for a walk in the rain through the narrow cobblestone streets that Lisbon is widely famous for.
Our Review: Cafe Paris had a great decor and ambiance. The fruit juice was healthy and filling. The food was delicious, but could do with a little less salt. The restaurant was also more expensive than we would have liked for the food we got, but I guess we were paying for ambiance and service. We ended up eating dinner later that night at a very local restaurant (which I will review soon), far away from the tourist Sintra area.