Lisbon's Best Family-Run Restaurants

Lisbon | © fxxu / Pixabay
Nina Santos

Not only do family-run restaurants offer authentic, traditional dishes and, sometimes, a bit of a gastronomic adventure, but choosing these spots for lunch or dinners helps support the local culture. In Lisbon, a city that has experienced a surge of tourism over the last few years, buying from independent shops and restaurants is a great way for visitors to “give back” to businesses that help make Lisbon so charming. Here’s our pick of the best family-run restaurants around.

1. Adega Tia Matilde

Restaurant, Portuguese, European

This beautiful traditional restaurant first opened in 1926 and grew into a favorite spot with locals and families, as well as becoming a Michelin Guide Restaurant. Named after the first owner’s mother, Matilde, it started as a tasca (a small local place to eat) specializing in petiscos (Portuguese appetizers) but now offers a full menu with everything from fish and seafood dishes (anyone for grouper with clams, spinach, and rice?) to meats (roasted lamb is a rural favorite), soups, and even vegetarian options. Adega Tia Matilde is among the best-known and popular local spots off the beaten path near Praça de Espanha.

2. Adega da Bairrada

Restaurant, Portuguese

© jsnewtonian / Pixabay

Located in one of Lisbon’s northern neighborhoods, Alvalade, this place is a short drive from the airport and Oriente Station. As such, it’s an excellent lunch spot to choose when you arrive and before you leave Lisbon, but it’s also worth seeking out during your stay. Expect silver platters and porcelain dishes filled with share-worthy traditional recipes like cozido à Portuguesa (a boiled dinner comprising meats, sausages, and vegetables), grilled fish, and Portuguese steak (characterized with the fried egg on top). Don’t forget to try the wines – “adega” is Portuguese for wine cellar – though only if you don’t mind having a drink at lunch, since it only opens briefly for dinner on Fridays.

3. Zé dos Cornos

Bar, Restaurant, Portuguese

© Mstyslav Chernov / WikiCommons

Zé dos Cornos is one of those local tascas that know how to serve simple and delicious Portuguese meals with traditional flavor and little fuss. Located near Praça da Figueira, meaning it’s easy to reach in the midst of the sightseeing (why not stop in after riding around on the historic trams?), its convenient spot also means that it’s filled with locals and tourists – there may be a bit of a wait and a squeeze, but it’s an excellent opportunity to chat with your dining neighbors and try to discover some local tips.

4. Cervejaria Boa Esperança

Bar, Restaurant, Portuguese

This local brewery in the bustling Benfica neighborhood is another popular spot in Lisbon among the locals for seafood petiscos and their house specialty, the prego sandwich, as well as some Super Bock beer to wash it all down with. In fact, it’s considered by many Lisbon residents as one of the best tascas for pregos in all of Lisbon.

5. Casa Cid

Bar, Restaurant, Portuguese

© Paul Arps / Flickr

Another of Lisbon’s historic tascas is Casa Cid, owned by the same family since 1913 and now run by the original owner’s great-grandchildren. Located in Cais do Sodré, it can be found behind the Mercado da Ribeira (where you’ll find the Time Out Market). Why not visit and practice your Portuguese at the same time? The menu is written in Portuguese on a chalkboard on the wall and meals cost an average of €6-8 (USD$7-9.30) per dish.

6. Cantinho Lusitano

Restaurant, Portuguese, Tapas

A husband and wife duo are the owners of Cantinho Lusitano, a wine and petisco bar in Príncipe Real, where you’ll find many different and delicious Portuguese snacks (the menu is constantly changing) – a few highlights include pica-pau (strips of marinated beef), Azeitão cheese (locally made just south of Lisbon), chickpea salad, and baked octopus.

7. Tascardoso

Restaurant, Portuguese

Another tasca you shouldn’t leave Lisbon without trying is Tascardoso, found on the edge of Príncipe Real and Bairro Alto. True to the traditional nature of Portuguese tascas, this is a casual and cozy spot that serves authentic Portuguese meals at a lovely price, and it’s not uncommon to hear everyone speaking Portuguese (a clear sign that you’ve found the locals). Located in the middle of one of Lisbon’s trendier neighborhoods, this is a true gem for those who like natural and honest restaurants where serving tasty food is the main priority.

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