Where to eat in Lisbon the best bitoques
Adega do Lagarto became famous in 2015 because of Baixinho (“Shorty”), a parrot whose owners were fined 20,000 euros for lacking the necessary permits. But this canteen-restaurant was already well known before that whole affair with the popular psittacine, thanks to its grill. Behind it is mr. Artur, a grillmaster whose skills are well known along the Santos-Cais do Sodré axis. His bitoque comes with a special sauce, which includes a mustard flavour, and with fries so wonderful you will want to take a picture of them, frame it and place it on your mantel.
Bitoque is a middle-class dish, but it has rich relatives. The one on the menu at A Floresta do Salitre is something of a wealthy cousin that kept little from the bitoque apart from its name: a juicy fried rump steak, crowned with dollar chips and the indispensable egg on top. A fine specimen and a pride to the family.
The owners of this small family restaurant in Campo de Ourique have to be very confident about their steak or they wouldn’t have named their establishment “Bitoque”. They are right to feel that way. Their steak is a fine piece of beef with dollar chips and creamy spinach on the side – an unusual but welcome addition to Lisbon’s bitoque culture.
The restaurant’s name is in the diminutive form (“the little pot”), but their bitoque is superlative. A big, tall steak covered with a strip of ham. Chips are round and crunchy and the egg shines like a star from a nearby constellation. Pickles are also included and they make for a nice contrast in flavour.
A harbinger of the tenderized steak trend, Rui dos Pregos opened for business in Cacém in 2000 and has since become a nine-restaurant empire around the Greater Lisbon area. The Rui in the moniker is Rui Moreira, and he’s the man with the mallet – he had the idea of pounding the steaks until they turned into a long, thin strip of beef. The recipe also includes a garlic butter sauce and a quick searing on the grill. On the menu they call it “prego no prato com ovo”.
The best price/quality/square meter ratio in Lisbon. Cardoso is a small friendly restaurant where everybody knows your name – yes, a diner version of Cheers. Mr. Cardoso himself waits on tables, and he will treat you as a regular from the first moment you step into his establishment. As for the bitoque, it is served on a skillet, covered with fries and the mandatory egg.
Can the ugly duckling in Portuguese cuisine ever be a swan? Try Churrasco, a grill specialist in the Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, maker of some of Lisbon’s best roast chicken. They don’t have bitoque on the menu, but ask for it and they will get you one: in a clay pot, under the egg and the fries, you will find a very soft rump steak.
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