Some of these Lisbon restaurants are new, some have been going for years. What they all have in common is great food, ambience and service.
The best Lisbon restaurants
Peruvian ceviche is gaining adepts around the world and Lisbon is no exception. Last year this place in the trendy neighbourhood of Príncipe Real was opened by local chef Kiko Martins – back from a year travelling the world and cooking (and learning) in other people’s homes. Here Peruvian ceviche is the stars of the show – if you have never tried it straight then do so here. Staff serve up the tasty fare in a bright, cool space that is dominated by a counter where you will want to stay as long as possible. The place does not take reservations, so come early.
A faithful recreation of an old- style Lisbon tavern, in both decor and food. During the day it serves the most Portuguese of dishes made to very traditional recipes, such as the unmissable iscas com elas (marinated liver) and meia- desfeita de bacalhau (salt cod, cooked with chick peas and ￼served with boiled egg); at night it serves a range of snacks – more Portuguese or more foreign, depending on what was available in the market, and on the latest flights of fancy of chef André Magalhães. And there are always good cheeses, olive oils, wines and tinned delicacies (which you can also buy to take away). It is always busy, so come early.
José Avillez is probably Lisbon’s best-known chef abroad; he is certainly the one with the most restaurants in the swish Chiado neighbourhood (there are five of them). Of these, Belcanto best showcases his talent and creativity, earning international plaudits. More than a meal, a visit to Belcanto is an experience. Here Portuguese traditions are reinvented in exquisite ways, with long-established dishes taking strange new forms; the restaurant also has one of the city’s best wine cellars. Come with plenty of time to spare.
In a unique location right on the river, and with a large patio to make the most of it, this restaurant has plenty of space inside, too, including an upstairs sushi bar. Though it has been going for a decade and a half, it remains one of the city’s top restaurants thanks to its ambience and service and the quality of its cuisine, which is now overseen by chef Manuel Bóia. It offers all the traditional Portuguese flavours you might expect, while reinventing many dishes or presenting them in innovative ways. What more could you want?
This place has been going for quite a few years now, but still has one of the best atmospheres in the city. In part that is thanks to the laidback vibe of chef Ljubomir Stanisic, born in what was then Yugoslavia but long based in Portugal, as well as the amazing dishes his team whips up in the kitchen. Not to mention the great cocktails mixed by talented barman Jorge Camilo and the large number of Portuguese actors and models who come here to eat. They know what they are doing. The menu is a mixture of Portuguese fare and dishes from the Balkans with other European touches (the chef likes to travel).
Diogo Noronha is one of the city’s most promising chefs. Just run an eye over the menu at Casa de Pasto and you can see what we mean: it oozes flair, expertise and flavour. The food is served up in a dining room that dates back to the early 20th century but which has been updated for our millennium. Actually, many old things have been brought up to date here. The chef loves to work with ingredients that are out of fashion and dig out unusual recipes, such as rissóis de berbigão (cockle rissoles) and caldo de rabo de boi (oxtail consommé).
A Japanese tavern that can take no more than 22 diners at a time (book ahead) and where the menu takes you on a tour of the best of Japanese cuisine, such as Freestyle gunkan or salmon tartare, as well as featuring other specialities that you will almost certainly never have seen in Japanese restaurants, such as piano de leitão (suckling pig spare ribs) and língua de boi (ox tongue, cooked at an ultra-low temperature). There is a counter where you can watch the sushi chefs work, so this is not a bad option to dine alone.
On the top floor of a half- abandoned building in the LX Factory complex, with a superb view over the river and city, a trashy-chic decor and a bar with excellent cocktails, DJs and live music, Rio Maravilha is the city’s latest in spot. The cuisine of creative chef Diogo Noronha pays homage to Portugal’s links with Brazil, with dishes that combine flavours from the two countries. Top tastes here include ovo BT, with cream cheese, Iberian pancetta, quince jelly and parmesan farofa (toasted manioc flour) or presa ibérica na brasa (grilled pork shoulder steak), served with an onion-and-pear pastry.
A stylish steakhouse opened in mid-2015, this immediately became a local favourite for several reasons. 1) It is in the middle of the Lisbon movida in Cais do Sodré; 2) it uses only the best meat, which arrives at the restaurant whole or in sides and is cut just before being prepared for your meal; 3) it has a top-notch Josper charcoal oven that can reachtemperaturesof 800oC;4)it hascroquettes,pregos(steak sandwich) and hamburgers for those who want a quick meal at the counter; 5) it is always full of beautiful people.You can’t book ahead here, but it is worth waiting to get in.
Japanese native Yuko Yamamoto has lived in Portugal for several years. She started giving lessons in Japanese cuisine and then, two years ago, resolved to strike out with her own restaurant downtown. The result is a tasca (Portuguese eatery) but a Japanese one, offering high-quality sushi and sashimi, as well as snacks such as takoyaki (fried octopus balls), Japanese horse-mackerel ceviche, and a spicy Bolognese-type dish with aubergine. The place fills up quickly for lunch and dinner, so you are advised to book. Make sure to try the parmesan cheesecake – it is dreamy.