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Have you ever heard of curated burgers? Curated nigiri? Curated pizzas, sandwiches or even curated cod? Probably not. After all, Time Out Market is the first market in the world where everything has been chosen, tasted and tested (with four or five stars, and not one star less) by an independent panel of city experts: Time Out’s own journalists and critics. More than 40 spaces with the leading representatives in all the food categories that help make Lisbon what it is – and tastes – all together under one roof. Find out everything you need to taste – and what Time Out had to say about it.

A concept created from scratch in 2014 by the team at Time Out Portugal, with only the best ideas and business projects in Lisbon – according to the editorial team – which can stay in the market from one week to three years. If it’s good, it goes in the magazine, if it’s great, it goes into the market.

On the one hand, 24 restaurants some of them from very well-known Portuguese chefs, 8 bars, a dozen shops and a high-end music venue called Rive Rouge, all with the very best in Lisbon (the best steak, the best hamburger, the best sushi and the best live performances, amongst others); on the other hand, home to some of the city’s best known (and longest-running) market vendors of meat, fish, fruit and flowers.

This had to be our first destination after arriving in Lisbon. It helped that my friends and I were famished after arriving in town and spending about 1 hour 30 minutes at immigration! First thing’s first, we had to grab ourselves a drink – Red Sangria it was! There were several stands on the road into the Time Out Market, which is where we bought our drinks. This went well with our tapas dinner here.

We had a combination of different dishes so we could have a try of everything. My favourite would have to be the Grilled Octopus that we ordered – this was done really well, with the char marks still visible, the flesh was succulent and tasty, and it had a great texture. We tried another typical tapas dish, Sardines on Bread with fresh tomatoes. This was light and delicious, surprisingly not too fishy, and very fresh tasting!

I think we came at a good time too because it wasn’t too crowded. There was a good crowd and buzz going and we were able to find a spot to sit easily. The food arrives pretty quickly too, which is nice! The vendors were all lovely, encouraging us to buy from them and helpful in explaining what certain dishes were even with a language barrier!

Went 2 times – early afternoon and then late morning. What some might called " vibrant" translates as loud, crowded, and about as inviting as the food. Expensive, small quantities, and apart from having great respect for the vendors staff who work frantically in confined spaces to maintain a standard, don’t expect a gourmet experience. If you have just flown cattle class, then this is just land based economy class. Have look but don’t eat there. Eg 3-4€ for a small slice of pizza, 10€ + for cafeteria served tasters. Even if you go early to avoid the crowds, little is available before noon. As for coffee, neither Spain nor Portugal know what fresh milk is ( with few exemptions like Dalston coffee Barcelona), so don’t even think you will get a decent coffee even if you can find a place that doesn’t burn the bean to start with. Apart from those observations, enjoy Timeout. Obviously the selected international food critics and reviewers who got their free meals when this place first started, have not been back since. Nor will I!

Opened in 2014 by the Time Out Lisbon team, this cavernous space currently holds 35 of Lisbon’s best bars & restaurants, tucked around the edges of a huge dining hall area. It’s a 5 minute walk from here to Lisbon city centre and you could be here for a week and not get tired of the choice & quality that’s on offer.

It’s loud and it’s busy and snagging seats at a table can require the mental dexterity & physical skill of a winning Crystal Maze team but it’s oh so totally worth it. With each place selected for being the best in class, you can find burgers, pizza, dim sum, sushi, sandwiches, roasts, charcuterie, patisserie, ice-cream, custard tarts, beer, wine and cocktails to name but a few of the options. Prices are akin to London street food and while most places take card or cash, I’d make sure you have both before you arrive.

Like Captain Kirk landing on a new planet, make sure you do a scout round before you purchase so you don’t end up with buyers’ remorse further down the line. The suckling pig sandwich from Henrique Sa Passoa is outstanding and the scallops with mango tartar & fleur de sel from Sea Me are also top notch. At only €1.50 each, Croquetaria offers great value for money – go for the cuttlefish & squid ink for a gorgeous punch of umami flavour – while the dessert tasting menu at Cozinha de Felicidad is a decadently delicious bargain with 4 generous portions of each dessert for €10. Dessert wine kicks in at €2.50 a glass and measures are affably liberal – definitely my kinda town.

What I loved about it – apart from the food, the drink, the prices and the vibe – was that this doesn’t feel like somewhere designed for tourists. There are plenty of out-of-towners who come here for sure but actually, this is a place where families come for lunch, where people who finished work late swing by for a quick supper, where locals come to eat & drink the very best their capital has to offer without trekking off to each individual restaurant.

There’s also a real sense of pride here – people take care of the space, they don’t leave their rubbish on tables or the floor and there are plenty of staff clearing as hungry diners arrive and gratified diners waddle off. Everything comes served on china with proper cutlery and there are trolleys for your trays to go on again before you leave.

It feels welcoming and there’s a real buzz of genuine enjoyment everywhere – it honestly feels like a breath of fresh air compared to some of the food markets in other European cities and if we ever get something similar in London, the city will be all the better for it.

Food in Portugal is lovely, especially if you manage to get yourself away from the tourists zones and sample food which the locals eat. It’s also cheap and often accompanied by a great wine selection. But visiting the Timeout Market is a totally different experience. It’s not particularly Portuguese, though they have a large local section; instead it’s more about Portugal and its culinary talent.

It’s here at Timeout Market that some of the greatest chefs in Portugal get to really shine. Away from the tourist hub and competition of the crowded spots in upmarket areas of Lisbon or Porto, these chefs have a clear opportunity to create great menus and present their food to a diverse range of people from young locals on a night out to families, business people and, of course, tourists.

Based in the actual original market building, the produce is fresh and locally sourced and if you go early enough you can see the market itself in action. At night it’s full on hustle and bustle and a great place to hang out with friends and try all the different foods.

If I were a Lisbon local, I suspect this would be the kind of place I’d regularly come to with friends. Unfortunately we just had the one evening here, but never mind, hopefully they’ll be a next time, or, another Timeout Market in another great city perhaps?