Lisbon is a city where people like to eat out. Whether it is a Tuesday or a Saturday, you’ll find restaurants heaving as locals and tourists alike head out to sample the cuisine. Almost every taste is catered for (except for Thai. If you know of a good Thai in Lisbon, let me know in the comments please), as is every budget.
Before I start with the list, some caveats. I haven’t included traditional portuguese tascas. There are hundreds of places that will serve you up Bacalhau, Pregos, and Cozido a Portuguesa. Your best bet for these is just to wander into any that takes your fancy and dive in. Let me know in the comments of any you find that stand out.
We haven’t eaten everywhere. There are still plenty of places we want to try, but haven’t got around to yet. Isco, Ti-Natercia and Solar dos Nunes may well all make this list at some point, but I’m not in a position to comment quite yet.
Finally, there’s also the Time Out Market. This hosts a number of food stands from Lisbon’s top restaurants. You can get traditional Portuguese, burgers, Asian, drinks, seafood, soup… pretty much everything you can think of. It’s very popular and gets very busy so finding a seat can be tricky at times. When Caitlin’s family came to visit, it ended up being like some sort of video game, just to find space for five together. If you’re in a group, and everybody wants something different, it’s a great way to sample a few places at once.
Let’s get on with the food.
I’m not including the traditional Portuguese tasca, but I’d be doing something amiss if I didn’t include modern Portuguese cooking. Many of our favourite restaurants fall into this category, and three of those come from the same man – José Avillez.
Cantinho do Avillez is somewhere that we visited before we officially moved to Lisbon. With its exciting menu with plenty of nods to the history of Lisbon, it remains a highlight. Make sure you have the H3 for dessert.
Avillez’s two Michelin star restaurant, Belcanto, isn’t the sort of place you visit weekly. The high price is well worth it though, and a choice of two tasting menus means that there’s always something new to try. The Garden of the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs is one of the best things I have ever eaten. It was here that I proposed to Caitlin.
Mini Bar is something a bit different from Avillez. Lots of little plates, excellent cocktails and an interesting setting make it a bit more relaxed than Belcanto but give you the opportunity to try some of his great dishes.
daPrata 52 is slap bang in the middle of touristy Chiado, just a couple of streets over from Rua Augusta. Don’t let that put you off though, because it is probably our favourite restaurant in all of Lisbon. Again and again I’ve recommended it to people visiting and the feedback is always very positive. It serves dishes that are slightly bigger than tapas – they suggest 2-3 per person – and look out for the chicken nuggets (not your average chicken nuggets) and the duck breast. It’s only little, so get there early or late.
Taberna da Rua das Flores is as close to a traditional tavern as you’ll find, but the food is much more contemporary. The menu is passed around on a big board, and the cosy room soon fills up.
Slightly further afield you’ll find another Michelin star place. Feitoria is part of the Altis Belém Hotel, which is no more than a 25 minute taxi or local train from the centre of Lisbon. The tasting menus are presented in a wonderfully over the top way, and make your eating experience truly memorable.
Also in Belém is Enoteca De Belém. We stumbled across on our first visit to the area, and instantly fell in love. We’ve been back a couple of times since and it just gets better and better. Also a wine specialist, when you ask to see the list they pass you a pair of binoculars and direct you to the vast selection lining the back wall of the bar.
Just across the Tagus river, you’ll find Almada. Jump on a boat from Cais de Sodré, and you’ll be there in no time at all. Get off the boat and wander off along the coast to your right, and you’ll come across Atira-te ao Rio. Offering amazing views back onto Lisbon, and with a beach sitting just a few feet below you, it’s the perfect spot for some al fresco dining in the summer sun.
Lisbon knows how to do fish. Whether it’s very simply grilled, cooked with intricate spices or served raw (see sushi further down the page in Far East too), if you love fish, you’ll love Lisbon.
The famous Cervejaria Ramiro is a must on any list of Lisbon food. It serves shellfish as simply as possible, which they’re able to do thanks to the quality of the product. Be warned, you’re going to have to queue whatever day of the week you decide to go. And whatever time.
SeaMe, which also has a stall at the Time Out Market, cooks the fish you choose from the ice tray at the back. There’s a distinctly Japanese feel to a lot of the dishes, and sure enough they serve up some good sushi too.
Hotel do Chiado‘s rooftop bar looks across Chiado, Rossio and the beginnings of Alfama to Castelo de Sao Jorge. The view is good, but the oysters are better. This is the place for the best oysters in all of Lisbon, and that’s coming from somebody who has made it their life aim to find good oysters.
Rated by many as the top restaurant in the city, A Cevicheria, as the name suggests, specialises in ceviche. Arrive early, get your name on the list and then enjoy a pisco sour and beef tartare tacos from the window bar on the street at the front. Once you’re in, share loads of dishes and get a bit of Peruvian flavour inside you.
Of all the nationalities represented in Lisbon, Austria comes across very well. In fact, it contributes two places to this very list. First of all is Kaffeehaus. The perfect place for a quick but filling lunch; the highlights are undoubtably the sausages, served with some excellent wedges. Caitlin simply describes the mustard sauce that comes with them as “really fucking good”.
Bistro Edelweiss is something very different. The food is great, but what really stands out is the decor. Seventies ski lodge is the only way to describe it. Orange and white plastics sit alongside heavy wood and classic furniture. Tuck into a cheese fondue, and pretend you’ve just got off the slopes. 40 years ago.
There are a few Italians and pizza places in the city, but Pizzeria Casanova is so far above everything else that it is the only one really worth mentioning. Situated over by Santa Apolónia, very close to Lux Fragil, you’ll probably have to queue, but the sizeable pizzas will soon make up for it.
Sala de Corte keeps things very simple, with six cuts of steak on offer. You can get a burger or a prego as well, but try the steak and you won’t be detouring off that part of the menu. After the difficult decision of which cut to go for (get the Lombo), you’ll have to then choose between the sides (go for the truffle mash or sweet potato dauphinoise, alongside the creamed spinach).
There’s a very strong Asian community in Lisbon, and this is reflected in food options too. The streets around Mouraria, the neighbourhood in which we live, are dominated by Indian, Chinese and Nepalese restaurants.
In this area, up in a back street, you’ll find the tiny Restaurante Tentações De Goa. Holding no more than about six tables, this place fills up quickly. Luckily you can book, and you should. As the name suggests, the food is Goan and it is all cooked to perfection. Whatever you choose is going to be excellent, but ensure you include the Bojés com chetnim.
There are plenty of okay Indian restaurants in Lisbon, as there are in London. Natraj Tandoori is next level though. This is one of the best Indian restaurants I have ever eaten in. The dishes are creamy and spicy, the choice vast and the service quick and friendly.
There are a lot of ‘illegal’ Chinese restaurants in Lisbon (they are somewhat comically labelled as such on GoogleMaps). These are when somebody has just opened up their apartment to serve home cooked food. You usually find them by noticing a Chinese price sticker on a door buzzer. Mr. Lu started off this way, but has now gone legit. This hasn’t dampened the quality. Always busy with Chinese locals, it serves every traditional dish you can think of.
Sitting between Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real, Bonsai is the place to go for sushi. You can choose to sit at a table or on the floor, and supplement your sushi with interesting hot dishes from the roving menu.
Not So Junk Food
Can I really include three burger places on a list of 30 restaurants? Do they account for 10% of my favourite restaurants in Lisbon? Yes.
At the top of the burger rankings is Ground Burger. Not only do you get perfect rare Angus beef, a superb house sauce and great fries and onion rings, the craft beer selection is as good as, if not better than, any bar in Lisbon. The milkshakes are ridiculous as well. Make sure you don’t order one until after you’ve had your burger, or you won’t be finishing your food.
The new joint in town is The B Temple. It’s still nice and quiet there, but a real find. The burger itself is similar to that at Ground Burger, and you get the feeling that’s their inspiration.
Honorato is the big name for burgers in Lisbon. As well as a few of their own places, you can also find them in the Time Out Market. Their signature burger includes an egg, and in a stroke of genius, sweetcorn. All this is complemented by a good gin selection and plenty of Dutch and Belgian beers. Fries are included in the price, but unfortunately that’s the only side available.
Stepping slightly away from burgers, Frankie offers up big hotdogs. These aren’t your standard dogs, but ones with mac n cheese, nachos, and one somewhat ridiculously wrapped in onion rings. They’re big and they’re good.
I love tacos. Especially fish tacos. Pistola y Corazon came recommended to us before we’d arrived, and you can get every sort of taco here. There’s even a tasting menu, which we’re yet to try but is on our to-do list. Last time we went we just let the barman choose our tequila and mezcal for us. My head the next morning confirmed that that was a mistake.
Before moving to Lisbon we assumed everything would be meat and fish. And there is a lot of these of course. Look close enough though, and there are some really good options for vegetarians as well.
Mouraria’s The Food Temple is best visited in the summer. Although they do have some indoor seating, you want to grab one of the diy tables on the steps outside the main building. You’ll be offered a small, but tasty menu. Share a few dishes, and enjoy a unique setting.
Cascais is full of very touristy places. The beach is great, but the food options not so. That’s apart from Cafe Galeria House of Wonders. There’s a roof top terrace where you can get a drink and the restaurant, with lots of outside seating, has a great vegetarian middle-terranean meze buffet. It would be a real find anywhere, but even more so amongst the British bars (awful) and shitty pizza places.
Coffee + Cafés
Coffee is an important part of Portuguese culture. Wherever you look there’s an old man with an espresso. It’s nice. Sometimes though I just want a hipster coffee. I want a latte with a leaf in the foam. I want a V60 filter coffee. It’s just who I am. Luckily, there are a couple of places that serve these up, alongside good food.
Fabrica Coffee Roasters usually have a Brazilian and a Guatemalan, plus a blend of the two, on offer. All are excellent, and if you’re not feeling like a coffee to go alongside your obscenely good teriyaki salmon salad, you can always have a craft beer from the fridge instead.
As the name suggests, Copenhagen Coffee Lab has a distinct Scandi feel to it. From the decor to the boiled egg breakfast to the open sandwiches at lunchtime. I love it, and if Caitlin is away I’ll often grab my laptop and lose a couple of hours there.
Finally, you’ll want to be have a pastel de nata. Those little custard tarts of joy are addictive. The best, and the original, are found over in Belém at Pastéis de Belém. Pro tip: don’t be put off by the huge queues for take away. Just walk into the left hand side door, and keep walking through the cavernous building. You’ll find 400 seats with table service and avoid the crowds.