The Best Restaurants In Lisbon
Known for its rich culinary culture and plethora of fresh seafood, the adventures of your tastebuds in Portugal will likely rival your physical explorations. Remember, you’re in a new country that (mostly) doesn’t speak your language.
You might not get a detailed description of what a dish contains, so why not throw caution to the wind and be open to all that the Portuguese cuisine has to offer? You won’t regret it!
True to the national culture, much of the dining in Lisbon is at communal tables and is simple soul food cooked from fresh, local produce.
Like their Spanish neighbours, restaurants don’t really start filling until after 9pm.
Whether you’re into fine dining, or a truly home hooked experience, there’s bound to be something here to suit your palate, mood and budget.
Set in the immaculately restored, decades old restaurant in the São Carlos square, next to the São Carlos National Theatre and adjacent to the house where the famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa was born, Belcanto provides a feast for all the senses. The first restaurant in Lisbon to be distinguished with two Michelin stars, Belcanto is the brainchild of chef José Avillez.
Photo from Belcanto Restaurant Website
Taking classic flavours and turning them upside down and inside out, Avillez stretches the breadth and depth of Portuguese cuisine to the absolute limit.
This most exclusive dining establishment has just 10 tables that are only occupied once at every lunch or dinner sitting. Ensure you make your reservation well in advance and be prepared to provide your credit card details to confirm. You can change or cancel the reservation up to 48 hours before the booking, but this will be one dining experience you won’t want to miss.
Cervejaria Ramiro, Intendente
If seafood is your thing, Ramiro is not to be missed. Nicknamed ‘the seafood temple’, it’s a Lisbon institution loved equally by locals and tourists.
Glass display cabinets are filled to capacity with all manner of the freshest, most delectable creatures from the sea – prawns, shellfish, lobster, oysters, clams, and barnacles.
Friendly, efficient waiters deliver piles of garlicky-buttery toasted bread to your table and bring drinks to those queueing for a table.
If you can possibly hold yourself back from absolute seafood gluttony, it’s worth saving room for a steak sandwich, which is usually served after the seafood. Arrive early to avoid the queues!
Decadente, Bairro Alto
For a down to earth and budget conscious dining experience, head to the in-house restaurant of the Independente Hostel and Suites.
Locals love this atmospheric and funky venue, with its tables overflowing to a cobbled courtyard.
Decadente prides itself on delivering exceptional value meals comprised of seasonal produce with authentic Portuguese flavours. Stop in for a lazy brunch on one of your more relaxed days.
Or experience the cocktails – designed to reflect the flavours of the nation – created by resident ‘mixologist’ Alexandre Leitão.
Cantinho do Avillez, Chiado
Chef José Avillez already has a restaurant featured on this list, but the extent of his talent and versatility are deserving of another mention.
Cantinho do Avillez is his bistro establishment, an austere – but chic – space, offering exceptional value for extraordinary quality food.
While the decor might be minimalist, the service is warm, welcoming and informal.
Although remaining true to traditional Portuguese cuisine, the food is also influenced by a range of international flavours.
Think lamb tagine, steak tartar, New York potatoes, or suckling pig with Asian spices. With so much variety, you could visit Cantinho do Avillez any number of occasions and never have the same eating experience.
Estrela da Bica
If low-key is your vibe, then be sure to include Estrela da Bica on your must-do restaurant list. Mastering the art of innovation without affected ostentation, the food here is an amalgam of Portuguese and Brazilian cuisines with an occasional random twist of Asian Fusion. Their ‘Dim Sum of the Day’ is a fried ravioli dish that always piques curiosity and never disappoints.
Although the seasonal menu is constantly changing, signature dishes include Salmon Carpaccio and fried sea bass with rice noodles. Estrela da Bica has a laid-back, bistro-like ambience that is perfect for a relaxed long lunch.
Photo from Restaurante Tavares website
Established in 1784, the iconic Tavares restaurant is by far Lisbon’s oldest eating establishment. Come here to indulge in classic Portuguese cooking in the most opulent of settings. Ensconce yourself in the old world aristocratic luxury of gilded mirrors, chandeliers and become immersed in an authentic Portuguese gastronomic experience.
Dishes like Carne de Porco a Alentejana (clams baked with small slices of pork), and Caldo Verde (a classical Portuguese soup) are examples of the chef’s commitment to authentic Portuguese cooking.
Tágide Wine and Tapas Bar
Head to the upmarket Chiado district to discover this informal tapas bar, created as a little sister to the famous Tágide restaurant. This more casual incarnation provides a relaxed and informal space for guests to graze on mouth-watering bite-sized Portuguese delicacies and offers a selection of more than 100 local and international wines to enjoy with your tasty morsels.
You can order separate small plates or take up the three course lunch option for €12.50, including wine or coffee. Make sure you save room for Tágide’s version of the Portuguese custard tart, which is served warm with cinnamon ice-cream. All this flavour served in an elegant room overlooking the town hall ... Maybe set aside a whole afternoon for this one.
For a modern take on an authentic dining experience, check out À Parte. This hidden gem came about as a result of Brazilian Chef Henry Chance Pinheiro and his Portuguese wife’s decision to turn their apartment into a restaurant.
And with its cosy atmosphere and classic Portuguese menu, it really does feel just like eating in someone’s home. The modern, minimalist interior leads to an outdoor terrace if you prefer an outdoor dining experience.
Closed on Sundays, À Parte is open for lunch from noon until 3.30pm Monday to Friday and from 1pm on Saturday. Dinner is service from 7.30pm until midnight.
'The Nuns' Canteen” (Associação Católica Internacional ao Serviço da Juventude Feminina – ACISJF)
This surprising hidden gem is tucked away on an unmarked side street. Known by few Lisboans – let alone tourists – its understated appearance belies a spectacular view.
Run by a group associated with the Catholic Church, (hence the nickname), this quirky venue is hugely popular among students and local workers on a budget. It’s not a gourmet experience, but around €6.50 will get you two courses (a main and a soup or a dessert) of home-style, freshly cooked food.
Sit on the roof-top terrace in the midst of lavish apartment gardens and take in the view of the city’s rooftops and suspension bridge across the water. It’s a feast for the eyes and wholesome sustenance for the belly.