The most central of Lisbon’s traditional tea houses, Café Nicola spills out onto the busy Rossio square. Although it is distinguishable by its indulgent Art Deco façade, the recently renovated interior is rather less impressive. Despite the suffocating exhaust fumes and relentless honking of car horns, outdoor tables are permanently occupied.
The cake selection at Cafe Nicola is disappointingly limited, with the cream of the crop often devoured by mid-afternoon. Still, customers can sip on their coffees safe in the knowledge that they are surrounded by history. The current premises, opened in 1929, was built on the site of an early 18th-century café favoured by poet Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage. It’s second to Brasílieira in the coffee-brand stakes, and there are 25 varieties of coffee bean for sale in the branch round the back.