To share or not to share, that is the question. Should one keep a hidden gem like restaurant Mercearia do Século to oneself or share this lovely deli in Lisbon with others? Since it’s you, of course the latter wins. This is one of my favourites places in Lisbon for a delicious home-made Portuguese dinner or a Sunday brunch!
Mercearia do Século, a very petit restaurant
The word mercearia literary means grocery store, deli. That is how owner Fernanda of Mercearia do Século started, with a deli store. From deli it turned into a succesful restaurant, open for dinner from Tuesday untill Saturday. New is the Sunday Brunch, from 10.00 – 15.00 hrs.
It’s a cosy, very petit restaurant in my favorite Principe Real neighbourhood. Every detail radiates love for food. From herbal plants in pots, the Loja das Conservas cabinet to the homemade sweet pastries (try the famous chocolate tart!) on the counter.
It feels like stepping into a friends cozy kitchen in Lisbon. The finest fresh food choices by Fernanda, vegetarian option included.
Q & A’s with owner Fernanda Valente Suares
Fernanda Valente Suares, a former anthropologist, translator and Portuguese cookbook writer, is the inspirational owner of this typical Lisbon eatery. We asked this friendly fifty about how it all started.
What made you change your job and start your own Mercearia?
I always worked in the ‘world of books’ but as long as I remember I’m never not around food or the kitchen. Deep down I always knew that I had to make a complete change for real fulfilment. Commit my life to cooking. No longer for friends and family only, for everyone. Two years ago I decided to face my fears and insecurities and start this adventure…
What do you like most about the Mercearia do Século?
For me, the Mercearia is a kind of small island of little pleasures. I love the idea of making people happy through food and hospitality. Even if it’s just for one hour or less. Love to share my knowledge about the Portuguese cuisine, explain the dishes and the traditions. Food is culture and it’s very important to keep this tradition alive. This is my contribution.
How would you describe your culinary style?
Let’s call it ‘coriander and olive oil style‘! I use this two ingredients in almost all my dishes. They represent the Alentejo kitchen, where I come from.
I like to travel to Northern Africa and get my inspiration from local dishes. As I do from the kitchens of Portuguese speaking countries, like Brasil or Angola. Customers say I cook like a ‘mum’, I really take this as a compliment. Mission accomplished.
What is your favourite dish?
Difficult to say. I like dishes connected with my childhood, with Alentejo, with my father. He is the person who most inspired me to cook. If I have to name one it would be the codfish salad with pomegranates. Simple but perfect!
I have nothing more to add. This is our go-to-destination in Lisbon, preferable the little table outside on the street. Bom apetite and keep this hidden culinary gem to yourself!