Ah my gosh this one is a pickle. There are thousands of amazing restaurants in Lisbon, and I feel like it is a huge responsibility trying to tell you where to go. So I’ll pick the ones that my friends (the ones who were visiting) liked the best, and will throw in a few of my favourite ones too. But please feel free to conduct your own research on to this, cause honestly there’s sooooo much good food in Lisboa…
Oh also I must apologise in advance but I have almost NO pictures of the delicious food. This is why I could never be a food blogger. I am an eater. I eat EVERYTHING before even thinking of pictures. Soz.
OK here we go.
“MY FRIENDS AND I” CHOICES
They claim to have the best ‘pica-pau’ (beef snack) in town, and I agree. Sure, it’s not exactly the traditional ‘pica-pau’, but the beef is so tender it melts in your mouth like butter. Leave this one for last, as it’s the creme de la creme. Other that that, I absolutely recommend: octopus salad (divine), veal croquetes (OMG), Pasteis de Bacalhau (my foreign friends really loved these), scrambled eggs with asparagus and scrambled eggs with farinheira (just do it, OMG, do it), garlic prawns (I mean, must I tell you more?), and finally the ‘pica-pau’. I pretty much just told you the whole menu. Oh hey, here’s another tip, if you book it through The Fork, you might get 30% off (not sponsored I swear, just being a good sport)!
Just a note: their kitchen closes earlier than what’s normal in Lisbon (I think maybe at 10pm?), so keep that in mind if you’re planning on going for dinner.
(Here’s a picture of the pretty painting they have on the wall, cause you know, I can’t eat wall)
Where? Close to St.Jorge’s Castle. Tv. de São Bartolomeu 4, Lisboa
Verdict: OMG Do it. Money: €€ (€ if you get the discount). Food rate: Heaven Doors. Price/quality: Very Good
Os Bons Malandros
I’ve brought pretty much every foreigner friend here and they all loved it. OK, must eat: the tuna, without a doubt. It’s delicious! The pulled pork sandwiches are to die for, the prawns and the moqueca are heaven. The goat’s cheese pastry seems to be a favourite amongst my friends as well. The only thing they need to work on are desserts, but honestly you’ll be so stuffed by the end I’m not sure you’ll have room for dessert.
Where? Bairro Alto. R. da Bica de Duarte Belo 51, Lisboa
Verdict: Do it. Money: €€. Food rate: Heaven Doors. Price/quality: Good
O Botequim da Graça
OK so maybe my fellow Lisboetas will think I am crazy to send you here, but I love this kind of place. This very small old cafe used to be the meeting place for ‘intellectuals’ in the 70s, therefore it has this really quirky feeling to it, and what’s best, the food is pretty good too! I’ve only ever tried the salads, which are absolutely fantastic BTW, but everything else looks (and smells) divine. It’s also opened at night – you can go there for cocktails and might stumble on poetry readings.
A great spot for lunch, or just a little break, especially if you’re doing all the climbing and walking I suggested. Anyway, if you don’t want to take my word for it, take Gwyneth’s, Paltrow that is, as it was featured in her website here.
Where? Largo Graça 79, Lisboa
Verdict: Do it. Money: €. Food rate: Very good. Price/quality: Very Good
Typical portuguese food in the heart of Bairro Alto. This is just a restaurant I happen to like, it’s probably like millions of other restaurants in Lisboa, but It’s delicious traditional food, big portions and I like it. The sardines in the summer are delicious.
Where? Bairro Alto. Travessa da Queimada 24
Verdict: Do it. Money: €€. Food rate: Good. Price/quality: Good
This one is a bit more modern than the ones mentioned above. It’s also a bit pricier (but try The Fork again, they may have 30% off again), especially because portions are small, which will make you order more. The Tuna ‘pica-pau’ is orgasmic. Yup that’s the only word to describe it. The ceviche is also heavenly. It’s better for just two people (max three) as you’ll probably sit at the counter and it will make conversation difficult if there’s five of you in a line.
Where? Chiado. R. do Alecrim 35, Lisboa
Verdict: Do it. Money: €€€ (€€ if you get the discount). Food rate: Heaven doors. Price/quality: OK
I haven’t been in a while, but this used to be one of my favourite restaurants. It is a bit pricey, and slightly posh, nice for a special night out or for a really good meal. Sometimes posh places scare me with their ‘gourmet’ portions (meaning tiny), but that doesn’t happen at Sacramento. The Polvo a Lagareiro (octopus) used to be divine. The last time I’ve been there was in 2012, and that’s when I am basing my review but, judging by current reviews, I’d say it’s still a very good bet.
Where? Chiado. Calçada Sacramento 40 a 46
Verdict: Do it. Money: €€€ Food rate: Very good. Price/quality: Very good
Now, this one is also a bit controversial, as I know some of my Portuguese friends don’t really agree with me on this, but I LOVE the Darwin Cafe at the Champalimaud Foundation in Belem. I love the location (beautiful view), the decoration and most of all I LOVE the risottos. And when I mean love, I mean that when I was in London I used to have dreams (actual dreams) about these risottos. Need I say more?
Where? Belem. Champalimaud Foundation, Av. Brasília Ala B, Lisboa
Verdict: Do it. Money: €€€ Food rate: Very good. Price/quality: Very good
O Cantinho do Avillez
This is a wonderful little restaurant in Chiado by one of Portugal’s top chef’s, José Avillez. His other restaurant, Belcanto, has two Michelin stars (unfortunately I’ve never been). But about Cantinho, the food is delicious. It’s traditional Portuguese food with a modern twist. Yup, delicious. The codfish is delicious (I am not even a big fan of codfish!) as is the pork and the hazelnut dessert.
Where? Chiado. Rua dos Duques de Bragança, 7 Mártires, Lisboa
Verdict: Do it. Money: €€€ Food rate: Very good. Price/quality: Good
This is not a restaurant but a neighbourhood of Lisboa, and not a touristic one at all, but if you want to taste the real typical food, I suggest you get there. Do you get what I am saying? It’s a WHOLE neighbourhood of AMAZING FOOD! You won’t find tourists and probably won’t find English menus either, but the food, OMG the food, it is yumilicious. Suggested restaurants: Adega das Gravatas, Paço de Carnide, Carvoeiro de Palma…
ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Time Out Market Lisboa
In 2014 the old Mercado da Ribeira, opened its doors as the new Time Out Market. It’s a food market, but a fancy one. It’s basically street food by some of the best Portuguese chefs (one even has a Michelin star, thank you very much). I’ve been twice, and twice I loved what I ate. It’s a good choice for tourists, especially if you’re in a group, as everyone can try different things, and you will be able to taste different traditional (and modern) Portuguese dishes. The downside? It’s absolutely heaving most of the time, in particular at “normal” lunch and dinner times. So if you’re planning to have lunch at 3.30 pm or dinner at 5.30/6pm, you’ll probably manage to get a table.
(I mean, basically, I am an old lady and I like to sit down for my meals, BUT by all means feel free to stand and eat your way through the different stalls at normal eating times).
You can check out the market here.
Saved the best for last: this is the best seafood place in Lisboa. Don’t expect it to be super cheap (surely cheaper than seafood in London, and bigger portions too), but expect it to be the best damn seafood you’ve ever had. Oh and don’t forget to get the ‘Prego’ (steak sandwich) for dessert.
Where? Av. Almirante Reis1, Lisboa
Verdict: MUST GO (if you like seafood). Money: €€€€€ Food rate: Heaven. Price/quality: Very good
WHAT TO EAT?
As I said, there are thousands of other delicious restaurants in Lisboa that you can pick from. Here’s a few Portuguese typical dishes (in no particular order) to help you out when reading menus:
- Arroz de Polvo – Octopus Rice
- Arroz de Marisco/Peixe – Seafood/Fish Rice (nope, it’s not Paella)
- Ovos com Farinheira – Eggs scrambled with a sort of chorizo (usually a starter)
- Bacalhau à Brás – Codfish with potato, onion and eggs all scrambled together. It’s delicious (there are more than a 1000 ways to cook dry cod in Portugal though, so you may prefer a different one)
- Pataniscas de Bacalhau – Cod fritters, usually served with beans’ rice or as a starter
- All seafood, especially ‘Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato’ (clams), Sapateira (crab) and ‘Gambas a Guilho’ or ‘Gambas al’ajilo’ (garlic prawns)
- Rissol/Croquete – it can be served as a starter or as a ‘petisco’ (tapas), it can have either meat, fish or prawn filling.
- Polvo a Lagareiro – Octopus in the oven with a LOT of garlic. Very yummy.
- Cozido a Portuguesa – it’s an assortment of meats served with potato, cabbage, carrots, sometimes beans, with a sort of juice to it. It’s lovely.
- Sardines – can’t get more portuguese than that. Just make sure it’s the right season otherwise they may feel a bit fishy.
- Grilled fish – all kinds, really: seabass, sea bream, swordfish, squid, etc.
- Queijo da Serra – A sort of creamy cheese, with a very strong flavour that is absolute heaven (sometimes it’s an option as a starter)
- Pastel de nata – the famous custard tarts
- Pudding: Arroz Doce (it’s very typical) or Baba de Camelo (very sweet, kind of a caramel mousse). My favourite? Chocolate mousse. Every. Time.