Compiling a list of Lisbon’s top restaurants is no easy task, because the city’s culinary scene is becoming more interesting and varied by the day. Established classics are vying with chic, new venues for the palate of discerning gourmets. Portuguese chefs who went abroad to refine their skills are flocking back to Lisbon and opening new restaurants which make the food scene one of the most popular in Europe.
Whether you are looking for petiscos (the Portuguese equivalent of Spain’s tapas), fish, meat, vegan fare, or the delicious pastel de nata, you’ll find the very best in Lisbon. Asian and fusion cuisines aren’t neglected either and, for die hards: you can even have a classic burger with a Portuguese touch!
Taberna da Rua das Flores
A much loved traditional restaurant, more cozy than elegant, with blue tiled floors, glass fronted cabinets displaying plates and other artifacts, and menus on individual chalkboards, you'll feel as if you are dining in one of the nearby Baixa Chiado homes. The the menu, which changes daily depending on what’s fresh, is a mixture of fish, seafood, and meat. It's best to taste the clams, mackerel tartare and, to top it off, a liquor rich chocolate mousse. Like in Portugal of old, you can only pay in cash.
The decor is half the fun of this funky restaurant that shares a palatial building with the Museu do Farmacia. Everything connects to the pharmacy theme: drinks come in measuring cups and ice buckets are made from first aid kits. Outside is a terrace with splendid views over the river Targus where you can enjoy the aperitif, then move inside to be treated to some of the best petiscos, like duck croquettes with orange jam or hot dishes like rice with pumpkin and mint. All traditional and very Portuguese.
Ceia, which is the Portuguese word for supper, is a restaurant of a different kind. Located in the heart of the city in Santa Clara 1728, the place was long known by insiders for its lavish brunches, enjoyed at a communal table. Chef Pedro Pena Bastos expanded the concept to a venue where company and conversation are as important as the food. Now Ceia is only open for dinner, but it’s more like a private dinner party. Only 14 guests are admitted each night and the dishes just keep coming. The party stretches easily to three or four hours, starting with cocktails (kombuches) in the backyard garden. After that the, often international, guests move into the elegant restaurant and conversation flows over seafood or suckling pig. Only the best local products are used with wines to match. Apart from enjoying excellent food you may even make new friends. Needless to say that a reservation is necessary and an experience like that doesn’t come cheap. A set dinner costs 100 euros and cocktails and drinks are extra.
The Food Temple
Portuguese cuisine is heavy on fish and meat, so if you want to detox with a vegetarian alternative, the Food Temple is just right for you. Located in the up-and-coming Mouraria district, the restaurant displays bohemian chic and Nepali prayer flags in the kitchen. For drinks, have herbal tonics or organic wine; for food, try the warm quinoa salad with pistachios or polenta with artichokes and mushrooms. For dessert, go for the raw coffee cake. Nourishing and healthy, you’ll enjoy the food in a lively atmosphere even if you aren’t a convinced vegetarian.
You find your meat and barbecue paradise in Butchers. The meat, grilled to perfection, i.e. rare, comes to your table in 500-gram (17.6-ounce) slabs, perfect for sharing. Or you can have smaller pieces in the form of a sirloin steak or Butcher steak, served with salads and sweet potato fries.
This restaurant opened in 2017 as an extension to the legendary Sal in Praia do Pego, favored by Madonna. Located in Lapa Estrela you can enjoy squid Algarve-style, fish soup with fried bread, and black cuttlefish rice with strips of bacon. A few meat dishes are available too. For dessert try the lavender-infused milk custard.
The decor is maritime themed with light green corrugated metal walls and weathered wooden chairs. It’s a place where the service is fast and ideal for a break from shopping or sightseeing, and it’s family friendly.
As the name indicates, ceviche is the main item on the menu of this outstanding restaurant of chef Kiko Marins. Located in the Príncipe Real neighborhood of Lisbon, he has brought the art of serving marinated, raw fish to new heights. You'll find cevich that uses tiger milk, mango, algae, or spearmint, all served under the eye-catching sculpture of a giant squid dangling from the ceiling. You might also want to enjoy shrimp gazpacho as a starter.
You’ll love this high-end seafood restaurant because the food pleases the palate and the eyes. The secret lies in the presentation. Chilled oysters come with almond crumbs, tuna tartare with wild strawberries and beetroot juice , lobster rice with buckwheat and anchovies with sweet corn bisque. On warm nights, you can dine in the back garden.
With an actual butcher’s shop on the premises you can be sure to get the best meat here, and you can choose your cuts. Located near the Corte Ingles department store you can recharge your batteries here after your shopping spree. A special treat is their tartar which is mixed with a shot of vodka. You can have burgers, steaks, or sausages, all beautifully presented and cooked to perfection. Provided you don’t have a nut allergy you might also want to have peanut dulce de leche for desert.
If you wish to enjoy your meal in an exquisite atmosphere, go to Atalho Real, an antique palace in Príncipe Real near the Botanical Garden. The former palace kitchen has been transformed into a beautiful restaurant serving meat dishes from all over the world. Weather allowing, you can also sit in the garden with a view over the Botanical Garden whilst indulging in your meat feast.
This restaurant, arguably, serves some of the best burgers in the city. Ground black angus beef burgers, clapped into brioche bread freshly baked on the premises and accompanied by onion rings and French fries will make you feel like you're in the U.S. without leaving Lisbon. Wash it down with either a craft beer or a huge milkshake.
The Portuguese are a people that don’t waste food. Tripe and pigs ears have always been a part of traditional cuisine, but the owners of this restaurant take the use of offal to a new dimension with grilled pork snout, oxtail with parsnips, and other more exotic parts like liver and lambs testicles. This is the place to go to try something unusual in Lisbon.
Chutnify provides a change from Portuguese food with its exotic cocktails and spicy south Indian dishes. Curries, stews, and dosas tempt your palate. Start off with Kachumba Cooler or Oh Calcutta, a cocktail with dark rum, curry powder, egg white, lemon, and mango. For dessert, try the mango cardamom mousse.
Pastelaria Santo António
Pastelaria Santo António located on a side street on the way up to Castelo de São Jorge is the in place to indulge in Portugal’s most famous sweet: pastel de nata. The custard tart, flavored with cinnamon is even better with an espresso. The building, with its blue and white tiled front, is not only home to pastel de nata but also to delicious ice creams, cakes, and sandwiches.
Beco Cabaret Gourmet
For a memorable night out plan a visit to Beco Cabaret Gourmet. At this restaurant, owned by celebrity chef Jose Avillez, fine dining meets a Hollywood Style burlesque show—for adults only. Located behind an unobtrusive door, this venue is sophisticated and intimate with only 20 tables and you need to buy your ticket first to be admitted. Great food and entertainment complement each other which is indeed the concept of chef Avillez. The tasting menu is full of surprises and is a show in itself, like minced brined apples carved in a rose or ceviche decorated with edible flowers.