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Chefs on Vacation: Julie Marteleira in Lisbon

Chefs on Vacation


Julie Marteleira is executive chef of Leña restaurant in Toronto.

What draws you to Lisbon?

Lisbon and the “Zona Oeste” is a place that will steal your heart and leave you hungry for more. There’s no place like Lisbon for restaurants, sightseeing and good nightlife. The ease and casualness of the place make you feel at home immediately. People are so welcoming and warm.

After you land and settle, where do you go first?

There is nothing like walking at the edge of the ocean and feeling the energy and tranquillity that it brings. If you’re stressed, this place will absolutely heal you. Our area [on the west coast] is one of the most renowned surfing spots in the world, so you’ll always see surfers in the water. Lisbon is surrounded by beaches.

Where do you have your first proper meal?

First stop, Cervejaria Ramiro! No question. This place has the freshest seafood in the city. Everything from giant scarlet shrimp, clams and cockles in garlic sauce, goose barnacles and fresh crab washed down with a local beer, Super Bock. Secret tip: don’t forget to order the Prego Sandwich (made with beef sirloin, garlic and yellow mustard) for dessert.

What do local chefs and cooks do best?

Portuguese chefs have a huge advantage— direct access to the freshest ingredients. The general standard is quite high. This along with their creativity in bringing traditional Portuguese dishes back to life make for an exceptional dining experience. They take the traditions, soul and landscape and present it in a modern way. In many ways, our culture can be understood through Portuguese gastronomy.

For a quick weekend—just two restaurant lunches and two dinners—where would you go?

Lunch at Tasca Do Joel in Peniche, one hour northwest of Lisbon. It’s a fishing town, so they have fresh fish and seafood. Last time I was there I had a massada de peixe, a soupy, tomato-based pasta dish with fish of your choice and coriander. Low-key setting, bustling atmosphere. I have had many large family Sunday lunches here. Also for lunch, the Time Out Mercado da Ribeira. It’s an old market turned-food temple with more than 30 food stalls. Each stall has a fully functioning kitchen. Think of a really good food court, free of fast food. I like to visit Monte Mar for seafood, Manteigaria Silva for cheeses and charcuterie, and Balcão da Esquina for the salt cod. Most booths here are smaller outposts of established restaurants in the city. For dinner, Solar dos Presuntos, one of the most classic restaurants in Lisbon. The service and decor are old school and very refined. The menu is varied, ranging from meats to fish and seafood.

Where do you go for morning coffee?

Breakfast at the Ritz. I love the classic luxury of the hotel. In Lisbon, any café will have good coffee. I usually start with an espresso and a freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s hard to walk past the windows full of fresh pastries.

And afternoon drinks?

Afternoon drinks are best on one of the many rooftop patios that have recently emerged in Lisbon. Sky Bar and Topo have great views and great cocktails. Lisbon is famous for its light, and it can really be enjoyed at these spots.

And late-night drinks?

Palácio Chiado is my new favourite spot. It’s a former nobleman’s home that has been beautifully restored. Each dining area offers a different feel, and the food and cocktails are great. The stunning 18thcentury building makes for a fun evening in a sophisticated space.

What does Lisbon have that you cannot get at home?

Fresh and high-quality ingredients, a great climate, the people—and chips flavoured with presunto (dry-cured ham), my guilty pleasure.

What do you always buy, pack up and smuggle home?

Cheeses, industry tools, cured meats.

And what (if anything) do you bring with you—because they don’t have it?

There’s nothing they don’t have, and it’s about time! That certainly was not the case in the ’90s, when my family and I lived there. A few years ago I would bring my family maple syrup, and they would say, “We have that too! Don’t bring it!”


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