I saw the very brief entry in our Lonely Planet. A cheap lunch joint with terrace seating and expansive views from the top floor. Also, it’s run by nuns.
Turns out, the place — ACISJF — was just around the corner from our hotel in the heart of the Chiado neighborhood. I plugged the address into my phone and was like, wait a second, that is about 100 yards from here… we have to go RIGHT NOW.
Even though it was so close, it was actually kind of hard to find. It’s not a storefront restaurant. You walk down a little alley to a nondescript door, and think, Is this it? Yes, there is a sign, but it just seems like there isn’t going to be a restaurant when you walk inside. And in fact, there isn’t — you have to walk up about 6 flights of stairs. It feels more like an office building, and the whole time you are doubting that this could be the place. Maybe this is the office to the restaurant…?
But a lobby coffee bar at the top floor confirmed that we were indeed in the right place. You walk past the coffee bar and through the indoor seating area to get to the food line. It’s cafeteria style, so you grab a tray and point to the food you want. The nuns running the place are all business. The food options are plentiful without being overwhelming: Salad and rice and fish, soup (Gazpacho!), fruit and bread, and a few other delicious delights. This isn’t fine dining — this is comfort food. That’s what I love and this place did not disappoint.
Important note: You can also order sangria, which is the ideal beverage to eat with your lunch given what awaits when you take your tray outside. A beautiful terrace featuring the most spectacular views of Lisbon and the Tagus River. There are only so many tables — it’s a tight fit — but with the blue sky above, old school cityscape surrounding you, and the endless sparkle of the river as far as the eye can see, you’ll feel open and free and downright content. And that feeling will expand with every bite of your food and sip of your sangria.
If you get to Lisbon, there is so much to see and do. Make sure to put this top floor joint near the top of the list!
Restaurant name: ACISJF
In Chiado neighborhood of Lisbon, Portugal
Top floor at Travessa do Ferragial 1
Lunch only, Monday through Friday
7 or so euros per meal