One of the most emblematic spots in Benfica neighborhood, Califa stands proud as it’s been serving the local community for almost 50 years.
It has been a part of my life forever: I grew up just a few blocks away. Some of the staff has been almost the same for years now, and the food and pastry still manage to please every customer.
Califa is the meeting point, the point of reference, the place everybody in town knows about, even if they haven’t been many times to Benfica.
And the veal croquettes have been everyone’s favorite highlight for as long as I can remember.
Around Christmas time, Califa is always bursting with costumers who come by to take home a yummy Bolo Rei (King’s cake) – a traditional Portuguese cake that is present at most families’ table around this time of the year. If you visit during the holidays, please be sure to try it.
On the 1st floor Califa has a restaurant with Arabic-style decor that makes you feel like you’re in a real caliphate, but despite that, the food is traditionally Portuguese.
Normally, people go there to have an afternoon snack or “lanche” as we call it, typically a coffee, tea or a “meia de leite” (coffee and milk) with something sweet (I suggest the croissants or the miniatures) or salty (the croquettes of course!).
You can sit in the terrace outside, facing a pleasant open square that is shared with another good and local café called Don Giovanni.