Cultura do Chá (Closed)
Rua do Norte, 31-33
With our latest trip to Lisbon we figured out the way to truly enjoy ourselves is to go to cafes. One of the best and most inviting cafes we have encountered recently is Cultura do Chá (“Tea Culture”). Set back in a tiny alley in Chiado, Cultura do Chá is directly across from a giant bougainvillea tree – a red bicycle marks the entrance- you can’t miss it. Cultura do Chá is a small cafe, set in an old stone building covered with azulejos. This interior has stone walls and is full of nice antiques and artfully mismatched tables. Randomly, they also had the nicest bathrooms we have ever seen in a cafe – done with Asian inspired screens and even real towels. You really have to see it to understand.
After some initial confusion about the ordering process – find a seat? order at the counter? – we were directed to sit, on a lovely comfy couch, where we relaxingly perused a slate of Lisbon cultural magazines while waiting for the cafe’s lone server. The menu revealed the cafe’s focus on tea – you can get 30 varieties of tea, each for 1 or 2 people. We ordered a pot of tea for 2 (5€) of loose-leaf chocolate hazelnut tea. Kudos to presentation: cloth napkins, nice flatware, and a classy set of ceramic teapot and plates, which we not-so-secretly wanted to take home with us. We were also a fan of the cups: wide-brimmed and flat like a soup bowl, we actually found them very easy to manage and better at cooling the piping-hot tea so we could drink it sooner.
After tea, we looked at their small lunch menu of crepes, salads and sandwiches all for less than about 7 euros. L ordered the spinach quiche (4€) and M got a chicken sandwich (4€) with apple and balsamic vinegar (maybe some cinnamon, too?). Both came with a really nice and salad, simply dressed, but super-fresh. Both the quiche and the sandwich were larger than we expected for the price, and completely delicious.
To top off your meal, there are some delectable looking cakes in the window. Naturally, we partook in a large piece of chocolate cake, which came out in a surprisingly elegant presentation: house-made whip cream, and an artful swirl of chocolate sauce. Service was friendly, though at a leisurely pace, so prepare to savor your meal. Even at the somewhat late hour of 2 PM, the cafe was full of happy expats and Lisboetas alike enjoying a leisurely tea, and we agree that it seems like the perfect place for relaxation on a busy day. We will definitely be back: after all, we have 29 more varieties of tea to sample.