Fair to say, when it comes to top-end food scenes in Europe, Portugal often flies under the radar in favour of traditional big guns like France, Italy, and it’s immediate eastern neighbour, Spain. Home to a seemingly endless abundance of fresh, top-quality (and very affordable) Atlantic seafood, and an exciting, revitalized foodie scene, the Michelin stars are starting to leap out of the ocean along the Iberian Peninsula, with some of the best cuisine in Europe now to be found in the heart of the Portuguese capital. There are already so many reasons to visit Lisbon. Add ‘eating’ to the list. Here’s a quick look at some of the best and most innovative Lisbon restaurants and eateries. Bom apetite!
Guide to Innovative Lisbon Restaurants
Cervejaria literally translates as ‘dispenser of beer’ in Portuguese, and you’ll see many of them throughout your Lisbon wanderings. However, few stand out quite like Ramiro. Widely accepted as the place in town for good, honest seafood, Ramiro is a well-garlic-oiled machine, and a rightful institution. Locals, as well as throngs of tourists, line up at this bistro nightly, while regulars can still be found holding up the marble top bar inside. For sensational crab, prawns, lobster and other delicious creatures of the sea, all prepared with unfussy simplicity at a reasonable price, Ramiro’s is a fine place to find yourself.
Save space for the obligatory dessert: ‘Prego’, a melt in your mouth beef sandwich – a protein explosion to send you overboard.
Av. Almirante Reis nº1 – H,
1150-007 Lisbon, Portugal
Located in the Principe Real district, A Cevicheria is one of the newest, and finest spots in the city to sample mouth-wateringly delicious Peruvian tapas and South American ceviche. With a sweet modern fit out, including faux octopi tentacles lashed across the ceiling, Portuguese Chef Kiko Martins’ fresh space is a gastronomic gem, with a popularity that speaks for itself. Expect exceptional flavors and a first rate dining experience at A Cevicheria, one of my favorite Lisbon restaurants. The 6-course Degustacao d’a Cevecheria (37.50 per head) is a great way to cover ground. Though cosy, and not one for reservations, the ‘first in best fed’ deal can make for reasonable waiting times. Shuffle down early, and enjoy a drink or two prior; it’s well worth the wait.
Dom Pedro V 129,
1250-096 Lisbon, Portugal
The elevator pitch describes Belcanto as a “chic, wood-paneled dining room” serving modern takes on Portuguese classics. Ask most folks in the know and they’ll say that chef Jose Avillez’s showpiece is by far one of the best if not the the best of Lisbon restaurants. Though still in his thirties, Avillez has risen to the top of his game in Portugal, and has come to personify the resurgence of modern culinary dynamism in his home country. Though Belcanto has existed in the historical Chiado neighbourhood since 1958, Avillez re-opened the rejuvenated 10-table restaurant in 2012, gaining a Michelin star for his efforts. A second star was awarded on 2014 – a first for any Lisbon restaurant; in 2015, it entered the 100 best restaurants in the world according to the UK’s “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List”. Avillez offers lucky diners incredible technique, skill, imagination and flavor, for a true gastronomic journey and experience. Bookings essential.
Largo de São Carlos 10,
1200-410 Lisbon, Portugal
Cantando do Avillez, Chiado
Avillez’s name is attributed to more than one dining icon in this city (five, in fact; with one in neighbouring Oporto). While Belcanto covers the lofty top end, Cantinho do Avillez provides a more casual dining experience, with no lack of culinary class. Simple and sophisticated is the motto here, a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere that’ll make you want to return time and time again. With cosy cantina full of and rustic kitchen curios, Cantando’s simple, delicious and unpretentious modern Portuguese cuisine certainly delivers on the vision.
Duques de Bragança 7,
1200-162 Lisboa, Portugal
Mercado Campo de Ourique
A few trendy, gastro-oriented dining markets have popped up in Lisbon in recent years, exemplified perhaps by the massive Time Out Mercado in Cais De Sodre. For a less intensive experience, and a range of fabulous fresh culinary delights from succulent grilled meats, to fresh seafood plates and more, the Mercado Campo de Ourique, located a little outside the heart of the action in leafy western Campo de Ourique, is the perfect way to while away a lazy Sunday. Delicious food stalls, wine and cocktails, and fresh produce stands for all and sundry to stock up in style.
106, R. Coelho da Rocha 104,
Cheap, delicious fresh seafood? Stunning views of the Ponte de Abril bridge and the sparkling Rio Tejo? It doesn’t get much better than Ponto Final. Though perched on the opposite side of the riverbank in Almada, this characterful eatery remains a staunch favourite of many locals and tourists for its charming, waterside dining experience. The menu might be small, but it’s authentic, honest, and above all, delicious. Leap aboard a ferry and take an unforgettable ride across.
Ginjal 72, 2800
Worthy Lisbon Restaurants:
Sol E Pesca
More bar than an eatery, perhaps, Sol E Pesca’s vast selection of colourful, kitsch canned fish makes it a more than worthy space for a quick nosh over a cool beverage. Wedged in the bustling night time hood of Cais de Sodre (the city’s former red light district, it’s main street recently painted hot pink), fishing nets and maritime paraphernalia on its walls easily allude to quirky Sol E Pesca’s bar’s former incarnation as a fishing supply store. Whether inside amongst the trappings, or out on the front terrace, The Sol is a fine spot to enjoy a wine over a delectable offering of fishy snacks.
Nova do Carvalho 44,
1200 Lisboa, Portugal
Sometimes, the best dining experience come down to an unfussy nosh in an uncompromisingly simple, no-frills local setting. O Trevo meets this brief in and then some. While there are many basic diners like O Trevo in and around inner Lisbon, there’s something charmingly vibrant, honest and real about O Trevo. Its staff sweat around the clock to deliver fast service, while it’s signature dish, the bifana – a pork sandwich served with mustard and chilli oil – is one of the best in town (and cheapest at 1.90 a pop). Centrally located by the Praca de Luis Camoes in Bairro Alto, there’s always plenty of excuses to stop by for a fast bite.
Praça Luís de Camões 48,
Of course, consider all this but a meagre snapshot of the myriad wonderful, innovative and eclectic dining spots to be experienced in and around marvellous Lisbon. Here, the new and the old fuse together to create an unrivaled spectrum of gastronomic options – as the gorgeous capital revitalizes further in the coming years, its foodie scene can’t help but follow suit.
Written by and photos by Cam Hassard for EuropeUpClose.com