It’s easy to find a good, simple meal at a family-run restaurant in Portugal for well under ten euros, but don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all that’s on offer.
With nearly two-dozen Michelin-starred locations spread from top to bottom of the country (and even on the mid-Atlantic islands), exceptional dining experiences are very accessible, often at prices noticeably lower than similar restaurants elsewhere in the world.
Here are eight mouth-watering options to choose from.
With an emphasis on using the freshest organic local produce, Loco’s menu changes with the seasons. There are only two menu options for diners to choose from, the smaller Discover menu (with 14 "moments"), and the full LOCO menu experience, with a minimum of 18 moments.
Located in the Estrela neighborhood, just behind the basilica and gardens that define this part of Lisbon, the restaurant is sleek and modern. It has a large wine list (paired or otherwise) to complement the range of dishes from around Portugal, the Azores, and Madeira.
A recent addition, Loco first received a Michelin star in 2017.
Only six restaurants in Portugal have been awarded a coveted second Michelin star, and chef José Avillez’s Belcanto is one of them.
Handily located in the tourist-heavy Lisbon neighborhood of Chiado, this small, cozy space only has ten tables, so you’ll need to book well in advance of your trip to be sure of a reservation. You may be able to secure a last-minute cancelation, but definitely don't count on it!
While you can pick from the a la carte options, you’re better off going with one of the three tasting menus. Each with its own theme, the menus take the diner on a historical and cultural journey via a wide range of small dishes. The wine list is very extensive, with both pairing and single-bottle options available.
With a knowledgeable and lively staff, Belcanto's ambiance feels friendlier and less stuffy than many other high-end restaurants—assuming you can manage to get a table, of course!
Swapping grand architecture for waterfront views, Feitoria sits at the mouth of the Tagus River in Belem, around three miles west of Lisbon’s city center. As befits its location, chef João Rodrigues focuses heavily on local seafood in his tasting menu and a la carte choices.
The options from the tasting menu involve modern takes on traditional Portuguese cuisine, with flavors and textures that originated in the country’s former colonies. Even if you think you’ve tried one of the dishes before, it’ll likely bear little resemblance.
The restaurant is spacious, with plenty of room for private conversation, and there’s a bar for pre-dinner drinks if you arrive ahead of time.
Staying near the water, but heading a little further west, Fortaleza do Guincho sits on a rocky cliff above Guincho beach near Cascais. Housed in an imposing 17th-century fortress that has been converted to a five-star hotel, the restaurant offers high-quality French-style dining, with a focus on seafood.
Local chef Miguel Vieira took over the kitchen in 2015, bringing a strong Portuguese flair to the menus. He offers a four, five or six-course tasting menu, with or without wine pairings, plus a useful array of a la carte options for both lunch and dinner.
Try to get a seat beside the windows if you can, as the stunning views over the Atlantic are an essential part of the Fortaleza do Guincho dining experience.
Lest you think great restaurants are limited to Lisbon, it’s time to head to Portugal’s north. Often regarded as the country’s food capital, it’s no surprise that Porto boasts nearly half a dozen Michelin-starred restaurants of its own.
The Yeatman received its first star within a year of opening, and it didn’t take long for the Michelin reviewers to add a second. With a wine cellar boasting a remarkable 25,000 bottles, spectacular views across the Douro river to the Porto skyline, and the young and vibrant chef Ricardo Costa at the helm, there’s plenty to like about this impressive and popular restaurant.
Predominantly based around seafood, there’s no a la carte option. Instead, diners opt for one of three tasting menus, with wine available as a pairing or by the bottle. Unusually for a Michelin-starred restaurant, many of the wines are also sold by the glass, so you can create your own pairings if you’d prefer not to go with what your sommelier recommends.
Matosinhos, on the outskirts of Porto, is renowned as the seafood capital of a seafood-crazy country. Given that, it's hardly a shock that Casa de Chá da Boa Nova’s menu is dominated by the best the Atlantic has to offer.
Chef Rui Paula is highly regarded in Portugal, and hosts the country’s ‘Masterchef’ television show. He has put together three highly-varied tasting menus at his oceanside restaurant, a gorgeous building perched right among the sand and rocks.
There’s a smaller three-course option, plus two nine-course degustation menus featuring such delights as Matasinhos crab and suckling pig.
Heading to the south of the country, the Algarve region also has its share of world-class restaurants. Bon Bon, in Carvoeiro, was first awarded its star in 2015.
The hexagonal dining area has a wood-burning stove as its centerpiece, and holds up to 30 guests. As with almost every Michelin-starred restaurant, reservations are recommended, if not essential.
Chef Rui Silvestre has put together an interesting menu, based around seafood but also bringing in regional specialties like black pork from Alentejo. Bon Bon offers a three- or four- course lunch menu, a vegetarian/vegan menu, and set four-, five-, or six- course menus with wine pairings.
Despite the name, and being situated right on the coast with unobstructed views of the water, the two-star Ocean restaurant in Alporchinhos doesn’t limit itself to just the bounty of the Atlantic.
Some of the more unusual menu items at the time of writing include cactus and Alentejo quail, although given there's an ever-changing selection based on the seasons and the whims of head chef Hans Neuner, anything is possible by the time you dine there!
Pick either the four or six-course tasting menu, pair with wine or choose your own, and enjoy the stunning views and exceptional dining at Ocean.