Lisbon's 10 Best Cultural Restaurants | Real Portuguese Eats

Matthew Keyte

Lisbon is home to wide array of excellent restaurants drawing on the magnificent seafood of the Atlantic and the fruits and meats of the surrounding countryside. Modern restaurants with Michelin stars, older establishments with quirky histories, and relaxed bistros and cafes are all to be found in the city. We’ve updated our guide to the 10 best restaurants to present even more of Lisbon’s gastronomical delights.

1. Belcanto, Lisboa

Restaurant, Portuguese

Belcanto in the Chiado area of Lisbon is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Portugal. Run by Chef Jose Avillez, the restaurant is one of only three in the capital city to hold a coveted Michelin star. The kitchen is run on a system of 23 commandments that include flavour, texture, the quality of ingredients, memorability, creativity and innovation and ensuring that each element adds to the dish. Great dishes on the menu to try include smoked mackerel belly with marinated vegetable puree and confetti, seabass served up with seaweed, pork and clams, and beef loin slightly smoked with rosemary, served with bone marrow and garlic puree – all of them cooked to perfection.

2. Tavares, Lisboa

Restaurant, Portuguese, European, Contemporary

Tavares remains one of the most refined and opulent places to dine in Lisbon, even after more than two centuries. Originally opened in 1784, the restaurant was taken over by brothers Manuel and Anthony Tavares in 1823. It became a great centre for influential political discussion amongst the Lisbon intelligentsia. A renovation in 1861 saw Venetian mirrors and golden chandeliers added to the décor, and Tavares retains its sumptuous interiors to this day. The menu features contemporary Portuguese flavours with plenty of superb seafood from the Atlantic. You can choose from cod, lobster, mullet or octopus. Meat-lovers can opt for lamb, beef or Iberian pig dishes.

3. Xapuri, bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, Contemporary, Portuguese

Xapuri, bistro in the Chiado area of Lisbon is somewhere to head if you prefer things kept a little more relaxed and less formal. The bistro won a Certificate of Excellence in 2014 from Trip Advisor for the consistently good reviews that patrons of the restaurant have left for the food and service. The menu is a mixture of classic and contemporary Portuguese flavours and keeps things refreshingly simple and uncomplicated. You can start off with homemade bread with olive oil and Roquefort cream with lime and mint, before moving on to fresh marinated sardines, oxtail tornedo with watercress, stewed pork cheek, trio of Portuguese sausages, sirloin with apricot or cod served up with chickpea mousse.

5. Clube de Journalistas

Restaurant, Nightclub, Mediterranean, Portuguese

The Clube de Journalistas offers something a little different to diners. It opened in 1983, and journalists often used to hold secret meetings here during the years of the Salazar government. The magnificent building dates back several centuries and oozes history and charm. Intriguingly, the chef was formerly a trumpeter in a symphony orchestra and today likes to work with Mahler and Stravinsky playing in the background. On the menu are dishes such as beef carpaccio, foie gras, mackerel, smoked duck magret, turnip and apple soup, and breaded scarmorza.

6. Cantinho Lusitano, Lisboa

Restaurant, Mediterranean, European, Portuguese

Cantinho Lusitano is all about passionate cuisine and gathering with friends and loved ones in a relaxed environment. The winner of a 2014 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor for consistently good customer reviews, the restaurant specialises in serving up the traditional Portuguese dish of petiscos – similar to the Spanish dish of tapas. You can choose from an extensive menu of petiscos, which include ingredients from fish and meat to cheese. Combinations include strips of beef with fried sweet potato; various meat rolls; cod with rice and beans; chorizo with muscatel sauce; stuffed mushrooms; and salted cheese.

7. Estrela da Bica, Lisboa

Restaurant, Bistro, Brazilian, Portuguese, Fusion, Mediterranean

Cantinho Lusitano, Lisbon
Courtesy of Estrela da Bica
Estrela da Bica provides innovative and creative food in a relaxed, modern setting. The style of the restaurant is bistro-style with food that combines classic Portuguese and Brazilian techniques with global styles. All of this makes for a somewhat surprising and unique dining experience and is ideal for anyone looking for something a little different. The complete range of cuisines that are on offer at Estrela da Bica include Asian fusion, with a dim sum of the day; Chinese, Japanese, and Thai; Middle Eastern and Moroccan; Basque and French; and Mexican and Latin American. Vegan and vegetarian dishes are also available.

8. Esquina, R. Domingos Sequeira 41C

Cafe, European

Tasca da Esquina has a unique approach to cooking that aims to reinvents traditional Portuguese flavours. Three chefs at Tasca da Esquina specialise in taking familiar local flavours and cooking them using contemporary techniques. Included on the menu are fish and seafood dishes such as swordfish steak, tuna, baked cod and sautéed squid. Classic meat dishes to be sampled at Tasca da Esquina include pigtails, poultry livers with marinated pears and gizzards served with tomatoes or fried onions.

9. Café de Sao Bento

Cafe, Restaurant, Gastropub, Portuguese, Seafood, Steakhouse, European

The Café de Sao Bento was established in 1982 near the Assembleia da Republica and has been winning press plaudits—including ‘The Best Steak in Lisbon’ by TimeOut—for their superb cuisine ever since. The décor recreates the old-style Lisbon cafés of the 19th century which were famous for serving steaks with pepper sauce—so expect wood-panelling and wonderful old murals. On the menu you will find dishes such as steak and eggs, steaks with garlic and laurel, carpaccio of smoked ham and fish, and smoked salmon.

10. Feitoria

Bar, Restaurant, Portuguese

The third restaurant in Lisbon to earn a Michelin star, Feitoria is part of the Altis Hotel and provides fine Portuguese cuisine with a touch of Oriental influences. The restaurant’s theme is 15th and 16th century Portugal, when Portuguese explorers set out to trade and discover the Orient. There is an extraordinary Japanese Nanban mural at the entrance to Feitoria—the style of art that developed in Japan documenting the arrival of Portuguese traders and missionaries in the Age of Discovery. Dishes on the menu offered by Chef Joao Rodrigues include seabass with mizuna leaves, roasted pigeon with truffles and mushrooms, and tuna tataki and radishes.
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