European Feel, Laptop Friendly

Café Chiado no.28

Finding the time to blog about a new cafe when I have a full-time job is difficult. So although I’ve meant to visit Chiado no.28  for awhile now (thanks Kathlene!), I’ve put it off. Despite this, when I did get a chance to visit Chiado last weekend, I found myself sitting down and typing away immediately.

The moment I walked into Café Chiado no.28, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia because I had visited Lisboa exactly a year ago. Named after the famous Baixa-Chiado square and the no. 28 tram that passes by it, Baixa was a place we visited often and loved. Much like how Picadilly Circus will always hold a significance for me in London, the square is symbolic of my time in Portugal. Seeing the Sumol soft drink, the iconic blue ceramic tiles, the brightly painted yellow door, the wooden rooster statue, the chouriço sandwich and the pastel de nata, I was transported back to the quaint and slow paced Lisboa. Lisboa is a safe and friendly city and people would often give us big, warm smiles. In fact, walking around downtown at night felt just as safe as walking during the day time.

Once settled in, I ordered my usual cappuccino and paired it with a nata. An interesting tidbit about nata pastries: the dessert originates from monks. Back in the day, egg whites were frequently used by monks to starch their clothing so they would often have to find ways to use these leftover egg yolks. This resulted in the creation of the now famous, flaky custard goodness. If you ever have the chance to visit Lisbon, you must definitely try a nata from Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém where they are served warm and straight out of the oven. In terms of coffee, the taste was strong and bold, suitable for the Portuguese palate. Think similar to Italian coffee as opposed to a ‘third-wave’ coffee. The coffee comes from a Portuguese roaster, Delta, located in Alentejo, Portugal. When asked about their blend, the barista told me the beans come from Ethiopia (where the Arabica plant originates). Had I stayed for lunch, I would have instinctively gotten the chouriço sandwich to seal my Portuguese experience, which is a classic pork sausage that is red from smoked red peppers.

The cafe is a great spot for students and freelancers as they have wifi and are open late until 9pm every day. With large, tall windows and quite a few spacious tables for your laptop, Chiado 28 is ideal for a variety of patrons. The music is not too loud so conversation is easy. Plus, the cafe is not constantly bustling so you never feel like you have to rush out. The menu consists of sweet pastries, baked goods and real meals such as croquettes, salads, soups and sandwiches. Finally, they also have a points card where your eighth coffee is free and depending on how much coffee beans you buy (500g or 1kg), you can also get a free coffee Delta cup.

My overall impression? A cafe I want to tuck in my pocket like a child who found a treasure seashell after a day at the beach. This is yet another example of a cafe that really stands out in terms of personality and offerings -especially among a mass of hipster cafes these days. Their identity is clear in both how they present themselves and the clientele they want to attract. There is originality in the food they offer and the space is so well decorated with small Portuguese trinkets, the cafe manages to bring you on a journey to a place they evidently hold dear, Lisbon. A must visit.

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