Eating out in the Portuguese capital is an exhilarating experience. Not just because it’s always changing – the restaurant scene is growing, morphing and inventing trends at every turn – but also because it’s diverse. Whether you’re looking for an elegant, contemporary tête-à-tête in a Michelin-starred temple to food, or a casual, old-world bite in a decades-old mom-and-pop favourite, Lisbon caters to both with equal enthusiasm. This city has a character all its own and so do its restaurants. Here are the best ones to try.
Now here’s a Lisbon haunt with real history. Originally opened around 150 years ago, it’s long played host to every kind of people, from sailors to intellectuals. A few years ago they did up the place and now it feels just the right side of modern – think shimmering classic Portuguese tiling, wooden bar stools and bold pops of teal. The food has had a smart update too, but not unnecessarily so – the likes of codfish fritters with turnip greens and rice, or hare stew with rice, feel distinctly timeless.
You haven’t really been to Portugal until you’ve feasted on bacalhau, the salted cod that makes its way into dozens of traditional dishes. And if you couldn’t guess from the name, this restaurant – located in Grilo, on the banks of the Tagus river – specialises in the stuff. Pull up a chair at one of the crisp-white-clothed tables, set under a vaulted stone ceiling and let your server bring you an array of fish delights, from pataniscas de bacalhau (codfish fritters) to cod pie with sautéed greens.
Dine under a forest of green – loads of tropical plants hanging from the ceiling, that is – at this trendy central stalwart from chef Antonio Galapito. An all-natural wine list is just part of the appeal; decadent but simple dishes such as smoked Iberico pork lardo on toast, or hispi cabbage with cheese whey and walnuts, use modern stylings with the best of Portuguese seasonal produce. Even the desserts are innovative: think sweet potato with smoked milk ice cream and honey.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Kevin Raub.
Why not make a weekend of it? Book a stay with Culture Trip at one of these stylish boutique hotels and then set off to explore the city. Whether you want to tick these must-visit attractions off your bucket list, spend some time admiring works of art in the best contemporary art galleries or get lost in the coolest neighbourhoods in Lisbon, there is something for everyone. After a long day, enjoy a refreshing drink at one of the best bars in Lisbon.