Well, the day I visited Loco arrived. And, what a f#%!&?* arrival! That restaurant was on my list since its opening and the days after, turned into weeks, weeks into months but dear fellas – that day has finally come! As long as I’d love to endlessly expatiate about each mouthwatering bite just like a great wannabe food critic obsessed with that particular one micro herb turned into a thin powder which origin deep down nobody really cares, I refuse to do it. First because it’s boring and secondly I don’t want to spoil anyone’s experience. Because what happens in Loco, even if close enough to the mouth should be locked inside our brains. Let it be your dirty little secret. So instead, I’ll share the absolutely crucial points you need to know about Loco before making a reservation. And if the 10 tips below don’t turn your senses on, you better check out those taste buds.
#1. Powerful bites
To visit Loco, you must be into fine dining somehow or at least be open minded towards it. Loco is about that one memorable bite so mouthwatering that will a-l-w-a-y-s make you cry for more. That’s the purpose. Embrace food perspective, it’s rewarding at the end.
#2. Save time
During the day, we simply don’t have enough time to enjoy the best things in life – eating, drinking and sleeping – I don’t know about you but at least these are mine. So, I only recommend this type of restaurant (if there’s any type Loco fits into) exclusively for dinners. And guess what? Loco is only opened at night. So, make an early reservation – I suggest no later than 9:00pm – to take the most advantage of the whole experience, no rush.
#3. Basílica da Estrela appetizer visit
Basílica da Estrela monument is definitely a Lisbon’s landmark and it’s 2 minutes walking distance from Loco. Go for a visit before your dinner. It’s open from Monday to Sunday between 9:30am and 12:00am and 2:00pm to 6:30pm and the ticket costs 4,00€ per person (3,00€ if you’re on a group). There are 114 steps so if you’re wearing high heels, just leave it for next time. You won’t like to arrive at Loco sweating like a heavy moustache.
#4. Choose your lucky number: 14 or 18
Loco has two different menus: either with 14 or (at least) 18 moments. Simple and mysterious as that. Both divided in 4 movements though where all you have to do is put your entire food soul in the skilled hands of the Chef. Obviously, I recommend the lucky number 18, once again based on my you came all this way theory. And I bet if you chose the 14 moments menu, you’ll have nightmares with the remaining 4 ones. They’ll haunt you forever.
#5. Wine pair it
You might wanna think with your wallet here but seriously, you came all the way to have a dinner at Loco and all of a sudden you’re thinking about money? #Dubious. Jump in and go for the wine pairing to complete the set, especially because they’re all portuguese (thumbs up!). However, in case you want to save the money to come back the week after, fair enough. I suggest at least a bottle of wine for two to join the meal plus water. However, if you aren’t into wines at all, you can chose between artisanal beer and homemade fermented fruit juices.
#6. Setting up a trend
Forget about standards, notions and sequences as you’ll not start your meal with the couvert – it only arrives after a few intense moments. And I know what you’re thinking – who thinks about the couvert anyway? – BUT, at Loco, everyone. It is by far one of the best ones I had in a long time. Those butters are perfect rounded sins that melted my cold heart. The type that are even sinful to think. And the steak sauce in the pan … oh yeah, there’s a sauce in a pan! And it ends here.
#7. 1000 soldiers for the battle
A large portion of the restaurant is occupied by the open kitchen from where you can follow all the precise moves from Loco soldiers. The front-of-the-house staff is also extremely attentive and different faces will accompany you throughout the night. I found a distinctive and interesting detail that almost each team member was able to properly and precisely present a dish. You don’t see it that often.
#8. Break the share button
Get your cellphone ready – meaning tons of space – for pictures and videos! My suggestion is for you to tell the staff about your serious report intentions (#FOMOstyle) right at the beginning so they can let you know in advance when a unexpected moment is about to happen and believe me – they will happen. This will be the type of experience you’ll want to Snapchat.
#9. Loco’s leader
Alexandre Silva is the mastermind behind Loco. He was the winner of the first Top Chef portuguese edition, in 2012. His signature on a plate leaves a bold watermark of his food and travel influences. If only by looking at a person you’d get the personality and cause first impressions are the ones you don’t forget, I’d describe him in three words as focused, low-profile yet fearless. To get the other side of his more simplistic cuisine flavors, head to his stall at Mercado da Ribeira market.
#10. A free chemistry class
You probably assume that by the end of a long and surprising meal, there’s nothing else to expect after the dessert – wrong! Even if you don’t drink coffee, go for it since the experience is totally unmissable. At Loco, I learnt that coffee isn’t just coffee (#StarbucksAintGotNothingOnThis). It’s made the traditional way using a glass balloon coffee maker – the type that only Happy Potter could have at home. One might think that it’s the nowadays posh version of coffee making but it’s actually traditional to do it this way. The only place I’ve seen this same method before was at Gambrinus restaurant.
Don’t miss: Kindly ask the staff if they can give you a detailed printed menu with all the dishes’ description and the Chef’s signature.
Hot tip: Should I repeat 18 moments again?
Average price: from 70,00€ per person for the 14 moments menu (excluding drinks)
Contact: (+351) 213 951 861
Address: Rua dos Navegantes, 53B, Lapa-Estrela, Lisboa 1200
Opened from Tuesday to Sunday (7:00pm to 12:00am, note that the kitchen closes at 11:00pm) / Closed on Monday
You might also like: 10 firecracker questions to Tó Trips | Dead Combo