Marvila travel guide for food and art lovers
Craft beer. Restaurants. Urban art. Culture and events. This is what the trendy and up-and-coming Lisbon neighborhood of Marvila is becoming known for.
Marvila is often nicknamed the Brooklyn of Lisbon, in comparison to the borough of New York City, or the London East-End of Lisbon, in reference to the gentrification that’s been happening around here in recent years. It wasn’t even a decade or so ago that Marvila was seen as a gritty neighborhood, where abandoned buildings and a lack of things to do were far from putting this area in the map for Lisbon residents and even less for international travelers. It was precisely this sort of contempt allied with low rent prices that made Marvila inviting for specific kinds of projects, namely in the alternative food and drinks scene, and also in the world of arts and culture, and thus kickstarted the transformation that we can observe is going on around here these days.
Today, Marvila is synonymous with alternative lifestyles, innovation and a decidedly hipster attitude. Even though the area has some of the most impressive street art murals you’ll come across in Lisbon, not all is aesthetics around Marvila, and there’s plenty of substance to sustain the growth of what’s becoming one of the most promising areas of the Portuguese capital.
Besides celebrated craft beer taprooms, contemporary art galleries and alternative design stores, Marvila is also the home of Hub Criativo do Beato, a massive hub for startups and entrepreneurs housed in a former factory complex and that has started to welcome international companies in the fields of technology, innovation and creative industries.
We’re sure Marvila will radically change in the next few years. But, for now, we’re highlighting some of the must-visit places that should be in your Marvila itinerary today.
Where to eat in and around Marvila
Café Com Calma
Opened since 2015, when it was virtually impossible to guess what Marvila would become in a few years, Café com Calma is the place to go to in the neighborhood for a leisurely coffee break or brunch. Kitsch, homely and super charming, this coffee shop and restaurant invites you to slow down and recharge when you’re exploring Marvila. During the week they serve lunch specials that go beyond the usual Portuguese recipes you’ll find in most places with lunch deals, but that do not shy away from local influences. If you’re stopping by in between main meal times, enjoy snacks such as the delicious homemade cakes (vegan options available) or, why not, a serving of caracóis, that is, braised snails with herbs, a typical petisco consumed with beers in central and southern Portugal. On Saturdays brunch is king, and besides common breakfast items like hot beverages, baked goods, yogurt with granola and scrambled eggs, it also includes things like soup and a mini burger, including a vegetarian option. No matter when you choose to visit Café com Calma, there’s a high chance you’ll feel at home, or maybe even at your grandma’s home!
📍Rua do Açúcar 10, 1950-242 Lisbon
Clube de Vídeo
Owner Erica Porru used to work in cinema, until she decided to make the kitchen her new artistic outlet. This explains the name of this Italian canteen, “video club”, where the daily menu keeps changing depending on what’s available at the market. The recipes vary, but they have one thing in common: lots of soul! Gnocchi, pasta al ragù, slow braised pork cheeks, and homemade desserts are some of the delicacies you can taste in this artsy space, decorated in pop fashion with movie posters. No matter what you order as your main meal, if Clube de Vídeo’s chocolate mousse is available on the day you visit, make sure you ask for it and your Marvila movie is guaranteed to have a happy ending!
📍Rua do Grilo 98, 1950-146 Lisbon
Varanda Vale Formoso
The news that Marvila is becoming a hipster neighborhood hasn’t made it to Varanda Vale Formoso, and thankfully so! Visiting this restaurant is like entering a time capsule, where the former gritty charm of Marvila is still encased. This translates into typical Portuguese decoration, including a transparent counter like those often found in local coffee shops with a few sweet and savory bites on display, paper table cloths, kind staff and, what’s most important, no frills good food. Portions are generous and you can have a very satisfying meal of traditional Portuguese dishes for as little as 10 euros. During weekdays, you can expect salted cod dishes, meaty bitoques, and fresh fish grilled over charcoal, while on Sundays the feast at Varanda Vale Formoso includes more festive servings with cozido à Portuguesa, octopus cataplana and more.
📍Rua do Vale Formoso de Cima n 113 b, 1950-266 Lisbon
Refeitório do Senhor Abel
Celebrity chef and TV personality Chakall owns several restaurants around Lisbon and Refeitório do Senhor Abel is his most recent address in Marvila. Even though the name sounds as Portuguese as they come, explained because the restaurant is housed in a former trading warehouse by Sociedade Comercial Abel Pereira da Fonseca, the focus here actually goes to Italian cuisine, one of the chef’s cuisine specialties. Besides hot and cold options of antipasto, pizzas are the highlight. You can order a classical margherita, but you can also embrace the alternative spirit of Marvila and instead try the ones made with vegetable ash, beetroot or hemp.
📍Rua Tabaqueira A3, 1950-256 Lisbon
A Casa do Bacalhau
Even Marvila’s counterculture tendencies won’t deny the Portuguese love for cod, and thus one of the most popular restaurants in the neighborhood is A Casa do Bacalhau, dedicated to the salted fish. In a noticeably more elegant ambiance than most eateries in this area, A Casa do Bacalhau serves around twenty five different recipes using dried cod as the main ingredient, making it an excellent choice of venue to explore Portugal’s favorite food. Apart from all-time classics like cod fritters, bacalhau à Brás, or bacalhau à Zé do Pipo, at A Casa do Bacalhau you’ll also find less usual dishes such as cod curry or breaded and deep-fried cod tongues.
📍Rua do Grilo 54, 1900-706 Lisbon
Part restaurant, part café and pastry shop, Liv Beato is the place to go whether you’d like to start the day with a fresh croissant baked in house, or chill after work with a glass of wine. Every day starting at noon, lunch is served as a buffet, where you can enjoy cold and hot Portuguese dishes, as well as dessert and a drink for a very inviting price. Liv Beato’s dining area is so large that this is a perfect venue for group dinners and celebrations, often with live music. Connected to the restaurant space, Liv Beato has a coffee shop and croissanterie, popular with Marvila locals for a complete breakfast including their famous croissants, yogurt and granola, bagels and more.
📍Rua do Açúcar 54, 1950-009 Lisbon
Aquele Lugar Que Não Existe
How do you talk about a place that claims that “does not exist”? This is the name of this restaurant that has an address, but despite all odds, does not have a social media presence. Secrecy is the foundation of Aquele Lugar Que Não Existe’s marketing, Marvila’s most eclectic spot, where staff will ask you not to click photos. The idea is that you have to come see for yourself. The truth is that the space, which feels more like a hybrid between an art gallery and an antiques store than an actual restaurant, will stay in your memory more than the actual food. Divided into several buffet stations, the edible offering of “that place that does not exist” include fresh fruit juices, soups, cold salads, hot Indian dishes, and wood oven pizzas. A rather unexpected mix that, somehow, ends up making sense in Marvila.
📍Rua do Açúcar 76 A, 1950-051 Lisbon
Marvila’s craft breweries concentrate in a small area that covers not much more than two blocks, but that have been responsible for the neighborhood’s nickname as “Lisbon’s beer district”. It all started with Dois Corvos, the first ever craft brewery to have its own tap room in Lisbon. Soon after came the popular brand Musa and brewery for a good cause Lince, which are today some of Portugal’s most popular independent beer makers, which we have covered more extensively here.
Best art galleries in Marvila
More than an art gallery, Underdogs is a cultural platform that includes an exhibition space in Marvila, as well as outdoor programs such as public art programs, development of commissioned art projects, production of artist editions, and even guided street art tours. In Marvila, Underdogs has two exhibition areas where they host a variety of solo and group shows throughout the year, including both Portuguese and international artists. With experimentation as one of their pillars, Underdogs is all about innovative contemporary art. Check what events are taking place when you visit Lisbon right here.
📍Rua Fernando Palha 56, 1950-132 Lisbon
Galeria Filomena Soares
Filomena Soares gallery has been an active player in Lisbon’s cultural development since 1999. Its main goal is to encourage contemporary artistic production, which is exhibited in its two rooms in Marvila, regularly hosting events by important Portuguese and international artists. Considered one of the most reputable contemporary art galleries in Portugal, Galeria Filomena Soares is a must-visit for art lovers exploring the neighborhood of Marvila and Lisbon in general.
📍Rua da Manutenção 80, 1900-321 Lisbon
Colorful ceramic tiles have existed in Lisbon for centuries. While you can find contemporary azulejos, ancient tiles are still admired and valued and, at Tardoz, Isabel Colher and Loubet Simões work restoring ancient traditional portuguese tiles, as old as five hundred years. You can visit Tardoz’s workshop with a previous appointment or, if luck or time are not on your side, follow their work on their blog, which explores the different steps that go into preserving these colorful squares of art.
📍Rua Padre António Ferreira 34, 1950-365 Lisbon
Street art murals around Marvila
To admire some of the most stunning examples of street art in Lisbon, you must come to Marvila. While other neighborhoods such as Graça or Baixa have notable examples of murals, it’s in Marvila where you will no doubt see some of the most eye-catching large-scale graffiti in Portugal. In between the high rise apartment blocks, away from the former industrial area where craft breweries and restaurants concentrate, Bairro do Armador has been revamped with the shapes and colors that resulted from MURO Urban Art Festival. The event took place in 2017, the year when Lisbon was highlighted as the Ibero-American Capital of Culture, thus explaining the abundance of Latin-American names signing some of these paintings. These murals have been crucial to revitalize a humble area, surrounded by a wider neighborhood where socio-economic growth doesn’t always come in a balanced way to all its residents.
📍Head to Biblioteca de Marvila, Marvila’s public library (Rua António Gedeão, 1950-374 Lisbon), and start exploring from here. The huge murals covering entire walls of block buildings will make it obvious where to go. You can also follow an itinerary for Marvila’s street art here.
Where to go for culture and events in Marvila?
Fábrica Braço de Prata
Owned by philosopher Nuno Nabais, Fábrica Braço de Prata is a unique space in Lisbon that hasn’t stopped curating cultural events for over fifteen years. Until 1990, the space where Fábrica Braço de Prata is housed today used to belong to a factory of war equipment, thus explaining the name “fábrica”, Portuguese for factory. As real estate development is quickly changing the areas surrounding this cultural institution, Fábrica Braço de Prata works to stay strong and focus on what they know how to do best: live music, exhibitions, as well as book launches and literary meet-ups that go hand-in-hand with the on-site book store. In more recent times, Fábrica Braço de Prata has also been developing more children friendly cultural activities, such as those revolving around music and theater. Check Fábrica Braço de Prata’s event calendar here.
📍 Rua Fábrica de Material de Guerra 1, 1950-128 Lisbon
This cultural association moved to Marvila after shaking up the nightlife and the alternative culture scene of the neighborhood of Anjos for several years. Besides being a space that houses artists’ workshops and residencies, Núcleo A70’s cultural programming includes themed movie nights, concerts, jam sessions, DJ sets and a very popular market with second hand goods, where artisanal producers of clothing and accessories are also welcome. Marvila’s home to Núcleo A70 also includes a restaurant with very affordable meal options, where you can also simply go to for a drink. As Núcleo A70 works as an association, you do have to become a member to enjoy their space and offerings. The good news is that membership only costs 2 euros per year, so even if you’re only visiting once, getting your member card is still worth it.
📍Rua do Açúcar 52, 1950-009 Lisbon
Will you consider adding the neighborhood of Marvila to your next Lisbon trip itinerary? Let us know what you’re looking forward to seeing or doing, and feel free to ask us for further tips via Instagram or Facebook. Tag us: @tasteoflisboa or #tasteoflisboa
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