Love it or hate it, Portugal isn’t exactly known for its vegetarian options. Many of its typical dishes contain meat so, historically, there haven’t been many vegetarians in the country. Nevertheless, the number of vegetarians has gone up in recent years and the necessity for vegetarian options has increased accordingly. I recently went to Graça 77, a vegetarian restaurant in Lisbon’s iconic Graça district. Here’s the official A Portuguese Affair report.
The gorgeous façade is enough to entice you to go in. The Art Nouveau-style glass and metal feature hanging above the door is straight out of another era, as are the baby blue and teal tiles that coat the building. As you walk through the green door, you can’t help but notice the cool geometric black, white and blue floors throughout the restaurant. The tables are all made by António Borges (the architect behind the enticing façade) out of reclaimed doors and lovely mosaic tiles that tie in perfectly with the floor. The chairs are all reclaimed and add a quirkiness to the Graça 77 that I absolutely loved! Wine-filled cabinets line the walls, because wine is the drink of choice in Portugal and it also happens to be vegetarian-friendly! A private room with a large wooden table make a great space for larger parties.
But onto what we really want to know: how was the food? I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of typical Portuguese dishes on the menu, some of which, naturally, were given vegetarian twists. For starters, we shared peixinhos da horta which are tempura green beans with a vegan mayonnaise (which was yum), hummus duo (one was cilandro and the other was paprika), sweet potato fries and alheira croquettes. For the dinner’s main course, they had two dishes available but everyone in my group opted for the same one: a vegetarian burger and goat’s cheese served on a red bolo de caco with a side of fried sweet potato slices and a cherry tomato & arugula salad. Turns out we all made the right choice: it was delicious! I probably would’ve eaten another if I weren’t so full already. I passed on dessert because I absolutely full although the options were appealing. One guy in our group was somehow able to stretch his stomach a little more and enjoy a pot of crumble (what a trooper!).
Conclusion: We all left full and pleasantly surprised with this new find (it’s only been open for two months). I definitely recommend it to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Rumor has it that Graça 77 does phenomenal brunches! I can’t wait to go back and try one…