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Travel Guide: Portugal

The Rebecca Sanders Wormhole of Envy (brought to you by Deb & Ben Johns trip to Portugal):

Sunbathing, beaches, fruity drinks, fancy drinks, cold drinks, cold fish, hot lobsters, croquettes, big old baguettes, cool people, livelihood, jamón serrano, light, beautiful people, crystal waters, hand-painted tiles, fishnet ceilings, sculptures, rocky coast, la vida loca, clear skies, romance, sparkling, billowing linen, fish, art, antiquity, nostalgia, bright white sand, Catolicismo...

Before you continue reading this restaurant sermon. Basta. Go read this menu. Historic, yet trendy with nightly music and dancing in the streets, the Ciado district is the ideal, bustling neighborhood for this joint. Like many “traditional with a twist,” al fresco dining options, Cafe Lisboa has revamped some timeless classics with the guidance, sweat, and soul of a charming, young chef.

Chef José Avillez is exactly who one imagines when they think of a handsome, yet, approachable, Portuguese chef (since that’s a pretty common thing to think about, right?). His smile has this way of saying, “You’re too wonderful to help with the croquetas. Relax on the patio, and I’ll bring you a glass of wine. Will you be my wife?” I love my fictional Portuguese fiance.

H10 Duque de Loulé is a beautifully preserved dream. The rooms are covered in signature Portuguese blue and white tile, hand-painted exclusively for the hotel. There are heavy overtones of white linen. This is the kind of place where you truly feel like a “guest,” rather than a haggard hotel patron. Jose and I have booked the 89 rooms for our wedding guests.

Like the Central Park of Lisbon, Eduardo VII Park features grassy and tiled areas dotted with ponds, botanical gardens, and eateries. So, the two parks I need to go to - Central & Eduardo. Better start saving!

A play on “je ne sais quoi,” (I LOVE it when people get clever with wordplay like this)  JNcQUOI serves, you guessed it, Portuguese fare with a modern twist. With desserts from the luxury French bakery, Ladurée, a bookstore, and wine bar, I’m certain I’d be setting up camp for a day. Nestled in the Lisbon luxury shopping hub, the spot is ideal for unique food, people watching, and casual local camaraderie.

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