Whenever it was that you first started thinking about food, Portugal likely wasn’t the first country you learned about – nor the second, nor third. But where Portuguese gastronomy was often overshadowed by French, Italian and —most especially— Spanish cuisines, Lisbon’s restaurant scene was already long established. A recent tourist influx has led to a newfound interest in the country’s bountiful dishes and these days traditional restaurants showcase staid recipes such as the iconic chicken piri piri, whilst a whole host of unbelievable ingredients including fresh seafood, meats and cheeses are spotlighted in the city’s fine-dining restaurants.
February 8th, 2019
Produce so fresh
A Michelin-starred restaurant where Portuguese culture, history, cuisine and flavors are very well executed. Feitoria’s team is led by João Rodrigues who uses produce so fresh, don’t be surprised if ingredients such as huge cuttlefish are presented at your table prior to eating. Rodrigues aim is simple: to connect with you with his producers, and illustrate where each and every ingredient has come from.
The star of the show is the scarlet shrimp - the head juice is extracted right in front of you with the help of a duck press.
Fortaleza do Guincho
Come for lunch, stay for the view
It’s not in the city centre but it’s definitely worth the trip. Just 30 minutes drive and you’ll dine in probably the most dramatic setting of any fine dining restaurant in the Lisbon area. Outside the windows you’ll see the brave surfers going out to sea. Inside, you’ll get an appetiser of handmade clay clams with a note that reads: “This menu is a splash of memories, traditions, and roots from this country”. Get ready for a journey into the sea’s flavors.
Photo: Miguel Andrade
Go for lunch so you don’t miss the view.
Egg tarts with bells on
Minutes away from Lisbon’s popular Chiado shopping area, Manteigaria is best described as an egg tart bar. The Art Nouveau building (once a butter shop) contains just a counter and a kitchen. From eight in the morning until midnight a mix of tourists and locals eat their egg tarts at the bar’s counter whilst on the other side of the Plexiglas, a team of bakers roll, shape, and fill new tarts.
Every time a new batch of tarts come out of the oven a bell rings outside.
The original peri peri
In short: Chicken piri-piri done correctly in a restaurant which still adheres to original 1960s interiors as well as the waiter’s original dress code (note the Front of House manager’s yellow jacket), as well as an outdoor seating area.
You don’t need to look at the menu, just ask for a “frango com piri-piri”.
Seafood to queue for
Open since in 1956, Ramiro holds legendary status amongst Lisbon’s seafood lovers. Inside you’ll feast on rich plates of giant tiger prawns, percebes (goose barnacles), lobster, crab and clams, then enjoy a juicy steak sandwich for dessert. Despite the crowds and long queues (made longer after Anthony Bourdain’s visit), the atmosphere is bustling but informal with garrulous crowds quaffing more beer than wine.
Photo: Miguel Andrade
Ramiro doesn't take reservations so arrive early and be prepared to wait.
Barbela & broa breads
Each loaf of bread baked at Gleba uses 100% Portuguese grains originating only from small, local and independent producers. 22-year-old baker, Diogo Amorim, leads a team of three to produce sourdough loaves, green ryes, light, smooth wheat breads, and coarse broa (cornbread) as well as weekly specials using native ingredients such as blueberries and chorizo.
Photo: Miguel Andrade
You'll need to get there early if you want one of the "barbela" wheat breads.
Modern, plant-adorned dining
In what used to be a food cannery and set amongst Roman ruins in the heart of Lisbon’s city centre, is now a spacious, plant-adorned restaurant. Let’s cut to the chase: You can’t miss the lard toast, the Barrosã tartare, nor the cockles with turnips. Also a great place for a glass of wine with wholly natural, organic and biodynamic references.
Leave room for savoury-sweet desserts and be sure to order the sweet potato with smoky ice cream and honey.
Tasca da Esquina
Traditional tasca dining
Portuguese taverns (tascas) traditionally served comfort food which is exactly what Tasca da Esquina’s chefs, Vitor Sobral and Hugo Nascimento, strove to recreate when they turned an old corner space in the family district of Campo de Ourique into Tasca da Esquina back in 2008. Since opening, this modern restaurant has maintained the simple, down-to-earth essence of old tascas. Don’t leave without trying the cockles with lemon; the octopus salad with sweet potato and coriander; the chicken liver with pickled pear; shredded cod with potato and egg; and fried gizzards with cherries and chives.
Photo: Miguel Andrade
Head to "Padaria da Esquina" to buy the restaurant's bread. It's located a few blocks away.
Industrial era outfitting
You’ll find 1300 Taberna located in LX Factory – previously one of Lisbon’s most important manufacturing complexes that’s since been converted into an industrial-style co-working and retail space. The chairs, tables, and huge chandeliers all speak to an older era, but the contemporary menu is alive with Portuguese and Spanish influence evident in dishes such as sea bass with Bulhão Pato (a traditional Portuguese broth made from clams, garlic and cilantro), as well as the charcoal-grilled black pork.
Photo: Paulo Barata
There's also a set menu available with, or without, wine pairing.
Mercado de Alvalade
Not a food court in sight
Founded in 1877 and now one of Lisbon’s most historical markets, Mercado de Alvalade was given a new lease of life when it was refurbished in 2017. Unlike other markets across the city (which all followed the food court trend), Alvalade’s focus has remained solely on selling produce including fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables and meat brought from all over Portugal.
Photo: Miguel Andrade
Don't miss grabbing a pork sandwich and beer just outside the market, and strike up a conversation with the fishmongers.
Located in the heart of Lisbon’s Saldanha business area, Versailles offers a charming Parisian vibe with black-and-white chequerboard flooring, ornate chandeliers, and enormous mirrors. The 1920s interiors are one of the most beautiful in Lisbon and have served as a meeting place for many generations of politicians and locals alike. Massive window displays showcase the restaurant’s patisserie selection which includes everything from homemade éclairs to cookies.
If you’re hungry stay for lunch as well, the croquettes and pork sandwiches are especially good.
Zé da Mouraria
Moorish, unending lunchtimes
Hidden in the former Moorish quarter of Mouraria and located up a small side street, you’ll find this typical tasca which offers an informal atmosphere alongside an open fire grill. It’s the place you’ll find many of Lisbon’s chefs including Restaurant Loco’s Alexandre Silva who advises ordering the pepper veal with homemade french fries, and a bottle of Vinho Verde. The restaurant only opens for lunch, but you won’t be kicked out until you ask for the bill. It means “lunch” can take 4-5 hours if you want it to.
The Friday lunch special is codfish with chickpeas - try it if you can.
Seafood with a side of history
Serving Lisbon’s finest fish and shellfish since 1936, Gambrinus is series of sombre feeling, dark-panelled dining rooms in which you’ll be led through the intricacies of the day’s seafood specials by waiters who really know their stuff (some of them have been working here for 40 years). Prawns, lobster and crab are always readily available whilst seasonal choices such as sea bream, sole or sea bass are served grilled and garnished with clam sauce.
This is one of the few places in Lisbon where Crepes Suzette is still prepared table-side. Leave room for this old-school dessert.
Café de São Bento
Ring the doorbell to taste the best steaks in Lisbon – enjoyed by the city’s residents for more than 30 years. Café de São Bento’s tender, thick-cut meats are served in a tasty cream sauce with chips. The perfect place for a long, late-night dinner in a high-end English pub setting.
The "lombo" (sirloin) is always a safe bet.
Offering a variety of organic Portuguese wines all made by small producers, Comida Independente is also one of a small and select group of shops to still sell quality sausages and chorizo. Alongside the wines check out the Portuguese charcuterie selection, muxama (tuna ham), butter from Ilha do Pico, and quince marmalade.
Photo: Gonçalo Santos
The shop holds wine tastings every Thursday evening.