Review: Churrasqueiria Santo Antonio, Lisboa Portugal

After joining a free walking tour in Lisboa that went for a bit longer than expected, K and I were facing 2pm without having had lunch yet. As someone whose hungry periods generally come between 9am – 3pm, my hangriness was making me increasingly irritable, and frustrated that my terrible-under-pressure husband couldn’t decide where to go for lunch. Finally, out of desperation, we ran into Churrasqueiria Santo Antonio in the Alfama district of Lisboa for lunch.

It’s a small restaurant with a grill in the open kitchen that will leave you smelling like barbecue by the time you finish your meal – not unlike the Brazilian-style churrasco restaurants that are similar in style to the Portuguese churrasqueiria restaurants. The touristy nature of the district means that there’s a number of tourists in the restaurant, and locals are few and far between. This is definitely not a local haunt, but the prices still seem quite reasonable.

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Cheese, croquettes and bread are delivered to our table as a matter of course. Before digging in, I quickly asked the waiter what the cost of these appetizers were. At around $1 Euro a piece, they’re not fantastic value but they do the job of calming my ravenous appetite for the moment. Just keep in mind that if you don’t want the appetisers, you can choose not to touch them – just check your bill carefully at the end of the meal to make sure you haven’t been charged for something you didn’t eat!

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I ordered a soup starter to share as well. Knowing from experience at a prior meal in Lisboa that veggies tend to be few and far between for main meals, the inclusion of a single serve of vegetables in the house Soup of the Day was appealing. This was a sweet carrot and kale soup, thickened with potato. Not bad for the low price, and quite decent with some of the bread dunked into it.

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I also ordered a side salad to share – very simple with the standard lettuce, tomato, carrot and onion. It was dressed delicately and subtly in a simple vinaigrette. I thought it was a little bit too onion-heavy, so I did end up removing most of it before eating the rest of the salad. There’s nothing worse than having raw onion breath for the rest of the day!

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K ordered a Grilled Steak with the house sauce, a creamy pepper sauce. The sauce worked particularly well with the chips served on the side, making them particularly tasty. The steak itself was cooked to well done, as it was quite a thin steak. The amount of charring and grilling on the outside made it particularly smoky and delicious despite how well-done the steak was.

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I ordered the Grilled Salmon, which came surprisingly as a cutlet, rather than the fillet steak cut I’m accustomed to receiving in other seafood restaurants. I did like the cut though, as it had the benefit of including both oily and leaner cuts of salmon meat. Needless to say, the charring on the skin was absolutely superb, creating a crispy crackly salmon skin. I wish it was cooked a little less though, I do tend to prefer my salmon on the raw side – this doesn’t seem to be something they do on the Iberian peninsula though!

Churrasqueiria Santo Antonio isn’t normally the type of restaurant that K and I try to find on our travels. It’s overly touristy, evidenced by the fact that they’ll try to squeeze every last cent out of you (see – appetisers with hidden costs). We won’t be eating here again, nor would we have eaten there in the first place if it wasn’t for the dire food situation we were in. Still, while the food is basic, the actual grilling is done well. It’s not the worst place you could eat while in Lisboa, but it’s certainly not the best.

Churrasqueiria Santo Antonio is located at 133 Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, Lisboa.

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