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Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon

A modern take on a food court

A modern take on a food court

Tracey Pollard

There has been a market in this building since 1882 and it was once the most famous fish market in Europe but in May 2014, part of the market hall reopened as the “Time Out” Food Hall,  housing 35 of Lisbon’s top chefs and restaurants.  Set within a beautiful building topped off with a Moorish style dome, the large open space is a really a modern take on a food Court , focusing on local quality product and independent operators.
The food choice is vast but it remains authentic and maybe that’s the reason for the success. With no global chains in sight, you find everything from traditional Portuguese cuisines, beers, wines and plates of ham from Alentejo, Azeitao sheep’s cheese and the Lisbon classic, the custard tart. Other foods are also represented with Italian, Thai, fresh sea food and dessert counters all being served by local independents.  The quality of food is high, as some of Lisbon’s top operators are here.  One of Portugal’s top chefs  Henrique Sa Pessoa’s has a counter, serving the likes of truffle mash potatoes and Portuguese style steak and egg.  Other well known Lisbon names with representation, include Sushi from Confraria, Café de Sao Bento, who are acknowledged to have the city’s best sirloin steak in Lisbon and ice cream from Santini. 
Each operator has a small kitchen area where they cook in front of you and then everyone shares the communal seating area located in the centre of the hall. The signage through out is a contemporary black and white style.  Simple wooden tables and chairs are shared by all the operators and although it’s a modern take on a food court, it has a great vibe and is busy throughout the day serving both locals and tourists. Open until 2 am at weekends, this venue is a great example of a destination which appeals to its immediate catchment as well as the international tourist. With meals ranging from 6 – 12 Euros, it really is an all day option and appeals across the board from families to the cool contemporary set.