Lisbon is a city engineered for alfresco eating and drinking, and there are an abundance of places to do just that. Here are the Lisbon restaurants worth going out for.
Alfresco dining in Lisbon
Run by those responsible for the Atalho stall in gourmet market Mercado de Campo de Ourique, this space behind the Embaixada minimall Príncipe Real popped up last summer. In this pleasant patio, meat is king. Star of the show is the huge Destaque para the huge chuletón (rib steak) and the matured entrecôte.
This Luso-Belgian restaurant is in the Convento das Bernardas - a former nunnery that also houses the Museu da Marioneta. Owners Viviane Durieu and António Moita are usually on hand to guide you through a seasonal menu with five dishes each of fish and meat, plus steak cooked several ways. Look out for tamboril flamejado (seared monkfish), raia a vapor (steamed ray), and pernil da pata negra assado (roast shank of black pig). The wine list is exhaustive and there's Belgian beer.
This large dockside space, dotted with designer furniture, features a main restaurant, a large terrace on the river, and an excellent sushi bar upstairs. Its kitchen is now run by one of Portugal's most admired chefs, Alexandre Silva. The menu might offer the likes of poached John Dory with a lentil and fennel stew or Alentejo presas (pork shoulder) with a dried fig stuffing. There are always vegetarian options and lovely light desserts. There's also a great Sunday brunch outside high summer.
It's all about the cross-cultural vibe at this evocatively decorated bistro run by an Argentinian and a Portuguese who met in Paris. The steak is good, as are the margaritas, although there isn't much else beyond tartines and salads, and it isn't exactly cheap. But the wine list is decent and the terrace buzzes in summer. Space in the original Buenos Aires is at a premium, but there's now a larger and equally charmingly decorated offshoot round the corer, Café Buenos Aires na Fábrica (Rua do Duque 22).
The fourth restaurant opened by José Avillez, in September of 2013, meant two bits of good news: 1) the rehabilitation of the restaurant of the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos opera house, with an esplanade and everything; 2) an outlet for excellent food of a less fancy kind than served down the road in the Cantinho, with steaks, hamburgers, croquettes and pastéis de massa tenra (meat pasties).
This offshoot of Casanostra turns out magnificent pizzas from its huge wood-fired oven. They're all great, from a simple napoletana to the Casanova, laden with cherry tomatoes, rocket and mozzarella di bufala. You can't book, but tables are shared and turnover is fast - diners catch waiters' attention by switching on a red bulb dangling above their table - even on the riverside terrace.
Portuguese cuisine with a modern twist' is how chef Miguel Castro e Silva defines what he's about at this, his latest culinary project. This white-painted space is cosy and casual, making it a fun place to dip into snacks such as octopus fillets, duck liver and morcela sausage. Alternatively, go for the menu for two for €40; there's also a range of delicious desserts.
This restaurant on the ground floor of one of Lisbon's new breed of hostels offers interesting dishes made from excellent Portuguese ingredients, whipped up by a capable young chef. The funky decor and vibe help to make it popular with both locals and tourists, so it's worth booking ahead. The back patio is sheltered from sun and wind, and has a retractable roof for when it rains. Of the snacks, the tomato soup and pica pau (marinated strips of beef) are good. This is a nice spot for Sunday brunch, a mid-afternoon snack or a cocktail. On the hostel's roof, the pricier Insólito (closed Mon & Sun) has a breathtaking view across to the castle and a menu that ranges from oysters and carpaccio to sophisticated vegetarian fare. The bar is open from 6pm, the restaurant from 7pm.
A good range of thin-crust pizzas, risottos and burgers are served at this little place just below the cathedral - an offshoot of a popular restaurant in the Bairro Alto with a similar name. In summer, they set up a pleasant little terrace across the street next to the cathedral wall.
Largo's interior, by designer Miguel Câncio Martins, features a gantry and lightbox above the entrance and three giant aquariums with jellyfish. More importantly, the kitchen is overseen by Miguel Castro e Silva, one of Portugal's top chefs. Dishes are prepared just so: Portuguese cod cooked at precisely 80ºC (176ºF) and served with fried breadcrumbs seasoned with wild mint and pennyroyal, say, or roast pork from the Iberian black pig with grilled polenta. The lunchtime executive menu is fantastic value at €18, and there's a good range of gin cocktails (from €7.50). There are smoking and non-smoking areas, plus free Wi-Fi and valet parking. Castro e Silva's talents are also now on display at his De Castro restaurants.