Rua de São João da Praça 95
Pois, Café sits nestled in a weathered stone building amongst Alfama’s small, hilly alleyways east of downtown Lisbon. One of the best cafes in a city overrun with them, its Austrian owners have managed to cultivate a niche with great sandwiches, even better Austrian cake selections, and a global influence. The broad selection is definitely appealing, particularly in contrast to a classic Lisboeta café. Moreover, it is a just a cool place to hang out. Pois, Café’s cavernous old interior is marked by stone arches, washed to a sunny white. Decorating the interior are a veritable crossroads of international books – mostly novels and travel guides – all left by patrons over the years. You can sit and enjoy great food in a relaxing atmosphere while reading travel guides to places you never considered traveling to (Israel? Why not?). The cafe’s name tells you that you should: it is a riff on “Pois, é” a common northeastern Brazilian Portuguese expression meaning “Yeah” or “Of course.”
Pois Café features a standard menu at as well as a rotating slate of specials. The main offerings are various sandwiches, tostas and wraps with international flair ranging from 6 to 10 euros. There are other light dishes, (quiches seem to be a big favorite). Pois Café is mainly a breakfast and lunch place and they also offer a nice brunch with pastries, yogurt, juice, muesli for less than 10 euros. For our lunch we had a Mozart sandwich (prosciutto, balsamic vinegar and arugula) as well as an Ilha sandwich (seen below – with a duo of Azorean cheeses, pear and paprika); both were around 7 Euros. The sandwiches were both delicious and fresh, and we enjoyed the unique flavor combos.
After finishing our meal, our attention quickly turned to the shiny glass case at the back of the restaurant, packed with Austrian cakes and sweets. At 4 euros per slice the price seemed high, but then again there is very little that can come between us and a pastry. The cakes looked delicious and we couldn’t resist after our chocolate cake cravings, especially given the general Portuguese lack of chocolate desserts. With a little influence from our server’s recommendations and a little more from our discerning eyes, we ordered the Tarte Russe (seen below), a cake with a chocolate base layer topped with a light lemon-flavored cream. For contrast, we also got a slice of passionfruit cheesecake. While very tasty, the cheesecake was a little light for those of you looking for a New York style cheesecake. But the Tarte Russe was a delightful bit of chocolate heaven. Pois Café definitely invites you to linger and it seems to have gained a strong following from the international community, tourists and locals alike. The restaurant is an absolute gem, and is definitely one of our favorite places for lunch in Lisbon.