A Perfect Storm of Portuguese Culture

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Just as I was an expert picnicker as a young backpacker, I'm realizing older backpackers -- who are packing a little extra taste and money -- find themselves seeking out wine-bar "picnics," delightful plates of fine local cheeses and meats to match the local wine. Wine bars are popular all over Mediterranean Europe these days. Here's a video clip of one I really enjoyed in Lisbon. And, for a sneak peek at the 2017 edition of my Rick Steves Portugal guidebook, see the listing below. (I've added the listing for a wonderful new bakery that only serves the favorite local custard pie -- which is two blocks away and provides a great and cheap capper to your "foodie's picnic.")

Lisbon Winery Wine Bar and Tapas is a new and casual little hole-in-the-wall with a passion for the best wines, cheeses, and meats -- finger food served on a slab of wood or slate with a thoughtful explanation. Along with its quality local ingredients, it has cork walls, a 500-year-old cistern under glass flooring, and fado music playing; it's a perfect storm of Portuguese culture. Alex, a sommelier, is evangelical about the wide variety of Portuguese wines and ports he serves and how they complement the tasty ingredients. Just tell him your budget and he'll work within it. I recommend two people pay €20 each for a complete array of cheeses, meats, and wines (daily 12:00-24:00, Rua da Barroca 13 in Bairro Alto, tel. 218-260-132, Cap your experience by tossing a cork into the cistern.

Manteigaria Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata is simply the best place in town for Pastel de Nata -- everyone's favorite local pastry. The key here: they only serve one treat and constantly churn the lovable little €1 custard pies out of the oven. You eat it not reheated warm...but original "hot-out-of-the-oven" warm. While here, enjoy a look at the busy little kitchen (on Rua Loreto just off Praça Camões, daily until 24:00).

This is Day 4 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I'm reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at