Rima’s Guide to… Marvila and Beato

This is a guide where I would like to say so much, but I don’t even know from where to start. As you already know it is going to be about Marvila and also a little about Beato, two more exciting districts in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.

This is the second guide in our little series about Lisbon. You can find the first one about Belem by clicking here.

The first impression that I had several years ago about this part of the city has now changed a lot. This part of the city has transformed from an industrial area of old farms and abandoned warehouses and garages into an area that is full of potential and undergoing great investment with modern, creative spaces, unexpected ideas and free, flat (yes it is possible!) parking just nearby the riverside.

I need to be honest and say that this is not the most comfortable place to reach if you prefer the metro to buses, but if you are willing to get on a bus then there are great connections from Cais do Sodre, Santa Apolonia, Rossio and Oriente train stations, and from Ajuda. If you have a car with you or would just like to stay somewhere quite close to the city centre but with lower prices then there are several options for accommodation.

Craft beers

I will start with craft beer, which is never a bad place to start. Portugal is no exception from the current European trend of craft beer, I could list many small breweries in Lisbon, but I will just talk about two of them that are located in Beato. You can easily visit both in one evening because they are located in easy walking distance from each other (less than 5 min.). To say which is better I will leave up to you, because of course it is according to personal taste!

Musa Brewery is in the main street, always busy, great atmosphere, nice labels, great taste.

The other one, Dois Corvos, is a bit more hidden but not hard to find. Oh, by the way, they have cooperations with other breweries so you can taste not just local beer, I liked their blackcurrant beer the most. You can just come here, drink beer, have some snacks and play table games. You can also buy a nice interesting bottle with takeaway beer, which is an interesting and fun idea.

Of course, there are many places where you can taste these beers, but it is always much more exciting to come to the original place and even have some tours around the breweries, so why not?

Dois Corvos

Food experiences

You might think that it is probably hard to find a bad meal in Portugal though, of course, sometimes it happens, but I am not going to write about any bad experiences. In Beato there are many great and diverse restaurants with super high recommendations and even awards. Yes, the more trendy places are quite new, mostly starting up over the last four years. Then there are the more ‘local’ ones full of local residents and offering very well priced daily meals.

There is a place for any taste. The local cuisine, especially fish – cod, can be found in places like Adega da Tia Rosa, then there are great places to eat steaks (apparently – I don’t eat meat). It’s also worth trying Entra, or EKA Palace, and Beatus offers modern cuisine with some vegetarian options. Just one small tip it is a good idea to make a reservation in any of these places or at least check and be sure that it is open on that day of the week, especially on Mondays.

But the restaurant that I would like to write a little more about is different… it provides you not just with dinner or lunch, but a great food experience.

Aquele Lugar Que Não Existe (The Place That Does Not Exist) is a restaurant right next door to the Musa Brewery, the number of the building is 89. You will not see any signs outside, it is without any kind of label, there is just a small note about opening hours on one corner of the door. It is always a bit tricky to go to a place without information, with almost no pictures in the media, no website, nothing on Facebook. So far we have been just once, but I believe we will visit it more often.

The first evening we went it was really busy and fully booked so we thought that it must be a popular place. We couldn’t manage to phone the next day so we just went a bit before they opened and asked if we could book a table. We managed to get one just after opening and we arrived just in time while there were still not so many people, the welcome was super professional and warm, the first impression – good.

After a couple of minutes we got a menu – it is just in Portuguese and probably that is not going to be change, because they would like to keep it in this way. We started to read and had a struggle with what to choose because dishes sounded unknown. The staff are great here so immediately our confusion was noticed and we got a great explanation about the idea of the place, the menu and how the food is prepared. It is a combination with some cousin countries (for example Nepal, Italy..) and Portuguese regions like Sintra and Alantejo. In a way we wanted to try everything and the best idea was to choose a kind of buffet option.

Ohhh, it was so good and also so much! The staff were bringing different pizzas and Indian dishes and explaining the idea behind and ingredients in each one. They were always arriving at the right time with amazing hospitality and some extra treats like a cocktail with champagne and melon juice. I won’t tell much more about food because you should experience it by yourself.

The place that does not exist

You can play pool inside, there are a couple of tables. There are also some big tables for special group dinners, and it is a really child friendly place. The building is actually a big old warehouse that has been filled with many creative ideas, including vintage furniture, other furniture and walls made of wood pallets,  upcycled lights, old fridges, hanging armchairs and so on. It is not a posh place, but has a unique charm. The team of professionals will make sure you will be well taken care of and will leave in a good mood after a great experience.

There is one more important piece of information, they have a rule that it is not allowed to take pictures inside and we did respect the rule, somehow I believe most of people actually do, out of respect for the place.

Culture, maybe some museums?

Yes! We visited one and I would say it is a pretty important one in connection with Portugal. The National Museum of Tiles in Beato. 

Of course Portugal without tiles just wouldn’t be the same. I was surprised to see so many Portuguese visitors not just foreign tourists, and at the same time kind of glad, because it is an important part of their culture. Do I like tiles? – yes, I doThe museum is in a beautiful old convent with, and as well as the displays has some facilities for workshops and a café where I had the best apple cake I have eaten in Portugal. The museum tells the story of Portuguese tiles, their connections with Holland and North Africa, the techniques involved. It shows some important historic works and some impressive modern ones.

Portuguese tiles

You could also take a look at the Filomena Soares Gallery. It’s a super big exhibition space in a warehouse created in 1999. I really can’t tell you too much because I am not an art expert, but it is a gallery of contemporary art. You can see between four and six different exhibitions each year, and they present well known artists like Bruno Pacheco, Rodrigo Oliveira, Shirin Neshat and Helena Almeida. At the moment you can see The Outast Manufacturers by Andreia Santana, a local artist born in Lisbon in 1991.

Running, jumping and shopping!

I remember maybe six or seven years ago I had my birthday party at a climbing center in Lithuania, and it was so nice! So now,  there is a chance to have the same thing again in Marvila, because there is a new Vertigo Climbing Center and it is not just a climbing wall! It is the largest Lisbon rockodrome designed for climbing practice but where you could also have some courses, they host cultural events such as exhibitions and shows and even make birthday parties. I think it is more for children, but hey c’mon we are all kids in a way!

If you want you can also have another adventure at Spot Real. This was a surprise to me – the first Parkour Academy in Lisbon and their mission is to teach you how to jump like a madman and for sure to land like a safe madman. I didn’t try it yet, I need to get back in to shape first, but I am definitely thinking about this experience!

At the moment we are looking for some furniture, because we are creating our new space and one of the shops here in Marvila is probably our golden egg. If you just want to hang around or to look for some ideas about how to reuse old things you have at home then this place could be the right one for you – Cantinho do Vintage. Yes, it is a vintage shop, or probably more accurately, again, a vintage warehouse. Vintage now sounds so trendy and so many of us are into it, and that makes it a paradise for sellers, because as with anything fashionable we are willing to pay a lot for it, but this shop manages to still keep the prices reasonable and I like it!  

Cantinho do Vintage

Oh, and there is one more of that kind of store-warehouses, just with Asian ‘spices’ – Asian Home Concept. The Portuguese want to explore and to know everything around and beyond the seas! So, here in Marvila there is a little piece of Asia with some antique and contemporary furniture, great design, great quality although really not so low prices, but for sure it is worth to see.

Walking around next to the river seeing these old factories and warehouses, we accidentally found the Hub Criativo do Beato. At that moment they were hosting an interesting exhibition ‘Paradisaea’ dos 20 anos do Lux (in honour of the nightclub Lux Fragile’s 20 year anniversary). An exhibition which let us see and hear the history of that pioneering space, it is a pity that it supposed to be hosted only until November 11th2018…

But what is it the Hub Criativo do Beato? It is an old army factory complex which has been reborn as an art space, with its 35,000 square metre area now being used for national and international purposes in different areas of technology, innovation and of course the creative industries.

Hub Criativo do Beato

Street art

Don’t just look down, or at your phone, while you a taking a tour around around Marvila and Beato. Be sure to look around and up and you might be surprised by how nice street art works you will notice! Like the crazy frog or monkey made from scrap metal pieces by Bordalo II, who is originally from Lisbon and creates art using waste, so he recycles and upcycles discarded trash into creative artwork. His work is related to social and ecological awareness and I like it so much! You can ‘hunt’ more of his works around Lisbon and worldwide! Yes, yes, yes I say yes to graffiti around Beato and nearby.

Just walking to Marvila train station we discovered a row of apartment buildings, you know those boring kind that are not in the best area, except here they are transformed into something quite special and with interesting messages about inequality, development, relationships and other important messages. There are more than ten super big artworks covering the sides of the buildings, so if you a fan of street art, this is a great place to explore and just look around. I don’t know a lot about all of the artists, but there are works by Licuado (Camilo Nunez and Florencia Duran, combination between culture and traditions of a particular environment with their own perspective and team work), Eduardo Kobra (One of the most recognised ‘wall’ artists in the world from Brazil – maybe you heard about his work ‘The Kiss’ in NYC city), and others. Of course, google is your friend and can give you all of the information you could possibly want about the artists.

Street art in Marvila

A day in Marvila and Beato might run by quickly and bring you some new creative ideas,  and just maybe another perspective about Lisbon. There are a few things to be careful of, like the fact that people in Beato really don’t like to collect their dog’s poopies!

I believe in a couple of years even more of these old warehouses will be changed into something new and attractive, maybe more co-working spaces will appear, more creative industries and more coffee places with interesting ideas. 

Frog street art

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