The colourful architecture that’s scattered over the 7 hills of Lisbon gives it a bohemian vibe that rivals that of San Francisco. Sunny and overflowing with great cuisine, that’s why we like Lisbon.
For me, cities where it’s hard to go wrong when you sit down to eat are a delight, and this is certainly one of them. We love the way tradition and modernity go hand in hand in Lisbon; where a simple local dish of roasted cod on one street corner can be transformed by experimentation into something much more Michelin right next door.
There’s nowhere else in town as famous for great seafood as here. Theirs is not a style of extravagances just super-fresh produce prepared simply to taste great. The atmosphere is an experience and the queues are endless if you go rush hour. BUT do not get confused and think it’s just a tourist hotspot, it’s worth the wait!
We recommend the garlic prawns, the whole king crabs and of course you can’t leave without finishing up with the classic steak sandwich. An unconventional desert, but the perfect finish to a meal at Ramiros.
(Nothing in common with the chain restaurant of the same name you’ll find in Spain)
A tavern as “god send” where being a waiter is still profession for life. It was to us by the head of the restaurant Cave 23. Thanks Antonio it was a great tip!
My suggestion is to sit in the BAR and order croquettes with homemade mustard, shrimps, a roast beef sandwich with pate or simply just the homemade black bread and some toasted almonds. All small snacks and you don’t even need to be hungry to enjoy.
Most days from 7.30pm they’ll put out an exquisite lobster casserole, but be quick, more often then not, as soon as it’s down it’s almost gone. Everyone loves it! Throw yourself in the deep end and order a Gambrinus Special beer, it’s half black and half white beer… a combination that shouldn’t work… but somehow does.
Taberna Rua das Flores
I’d heard about this Taberna from lots of different sources. The menu changes daily and you can choose from a few dishes up on the blackboard, basically what we have is what you get!
It is a very small tavern, unpretentious, with just 10-12 tables, so you can imagine how quickly it fills up. They don’t do reservations and at weekends the waiting list is about an hour, so get there early or maybe hit it on a weekday.
I opted for the salad of cod, chickpeas and meat, an interesting mix that I’d definitely have again. If it’s on the menu you have to have the cheesecake with passion fruit or the chocolate terrine, delicious desserts, no regrets… I had both !!
The Chef Kiko serves up a Luso-Peruvian fusion we like… a lot! An informal and fun atmosphere, dominated by a large octopus on the ceiling that welcomes you into this bright and relaxed space. To kick off, we ordered the Pisco Sour to get in the mood and accompanied them with appetizers of brown butter (with squid ink), fried corn and cornbread. I can highly recommend the Sea Chinotto, Pure Ceviche with Talho’s Tartare Taco as the icing on the cake.
Cevicheria’s older sister restaurant, O Talho, is just over the road. It’s definitely a place for carnivores where you walk through the Butcher Shop front to get to the restaurant in the back, a kind of meat lovers speakeasy! Here you’ll find meat done every which way, the tartar is a MUST. The atmosphere is lively and it’s a fashionable hot spot so I would reserve your advance.
If you’re still hungry for more meat, Sala de Corte is your next stop. Right next to the Mercado da Bank, the steaks are exceptional but they don’t come cheap!
Cantinho do Avillez
The restaurant is one of Chef Jose Avillez, who has three Michelin stars for Belcanto round the corner. It’s warm and simple space, beautifully decorated by Felipa Almeida; with an open kitchen that delights and a laid back atmosphere we felt in every corner. Its menu is one of traditional dishes with a touch of the spectacular. We couldn’t resist the tuna tataki to start, followed by cod carpaccio and fish soup. In terms of desserts, the chocolate balls with caramel cream are very good but the star of the show is the cheesecake, irresistible!
The same chef has Mini Bar, which is a bit more of a daring affair with a very innovative concept: the menu is laid out like acts in a stage play, the waiters like characters taking us scene by scene, with a whimsical touch of humour on a story of cuisine. Each tapas is small and full of unexpected flavour combinations.
Here Avillez is banking on crating a new style of night-time hotspot with a casual and fun-filled vibe. If you end up getting lively with the cocktails flowing, from 11 they have a DJ who is as theatrically entertaining as the rest of the establishment.
What to eat? El Bulli olives, shrimp ceviche from the Algarve and a mini ice-cream cone of tuna tartar with spicy soy. Do take advice from the showmen style waiters on the cocktail list… they know what they’re talking about!
Bistro 100 Maneras
This is the fantastically creative chef Ljubomir Stanisic’s bistro version of his restaurant 100 Maneras (100 Ways) . The interiors are Art Deco style and its menu is a mix of Portuguese and international flavours. We loved the salmon burger served in squid ink bread, a curious yet delicious delicacy.
Mercado da Ribeira
This a paradise for gourmands and those who just love to eat good food. Homemade ice cream, natural fresh juices, Asian cuisine and even haute cuisine are all to be found and enjoyed in the market stalls. There are stands here from some of the most famous restaurants in town: our favourites were from chefs Henrique Sá Pessoa, Marlene Vieira, Alexandre Silva and Miguel Castro Silva… all worth a quick bite or two for sure!
And don’t forget to try the famously delicious ice cream at Santini!
Once you’ve been you’ll understand how this fantastic restaurant very much lives ups to its namesake. My favourite chef in the city, Henrique Sa Pessoa, delights here with his contemporary cuisine by placing emphasis on creating clever, yet unfussy (!), flavour combinations with the perfect produce and ingredients.
The setting is a recently renovated medieval ruin, where the stonework walls bring a sense of history and the wooden beams a cozy that makes you feel instantly at home.
With such a space, perfectly designed table settings, excellent service, immediately you think Michelin star, but Alma goes beyond(!) allowing their less stuffy approach to bring a touch of magic to this dining experience. Any casualness is left behind when it’s time to eat; things get serious once the dishes start to appear, here it’s haute cuisine. I suggest taking the Tasting Menu, it’s the perfect combination of all the best dishes a la Carte.
Here it’s all about flavour over technique, authentic cuisine above all else. Its secret is the careful crafting of ingredients. For me the chef Ana was a revelation, she has worked with the best in Spain and has just recently come to Lisbon to impress a fresh audience of food lovers.
Antonio Silviera (the restaurant head), tells us that each dish is time consumingly designed for taste, there is nothing rushed or improvised in this laboratory of flavour. Only a few dishes all from the fresh ingredients of the day. It’s also one of the few places that will open a bottle of any wine on the list just so that you can have a single glass. The setting is wonderful and, as the name suggests is a small cave (cellar) located within the Torel Palace Hotel, an ideal, cozy space in which to enjoy the experience.
LISBON BOHO CHIC
Sol e Pesca
If you have never sat in a bar to eat tinned fish, then it’s time to try this colourful little locale. It was once a fishing shop. as you’ll see immediately in the décor of nets, fishing tackle and rods. A quirky delight!
Located inside the pharmacy museum, and with a view of Santa Catarina, this little gem is certainly a curiosity. Its décor making it all the more so with shelves full of pillboxes and old school medical paraphernalia; it’s like being in a very chic mid centaury pharmacist. I’d recommend for dinner, it menu changes daily and is, like the place, full of surprises.
Hush Hush Garden (for summer!)
This is one of the few pop-up style restaurants of the city. Susana and her husband Joâo decided to organize a little hideaway of a restaurant in the very pretty back garden of their apartment. On offer is a menu of traditional Portuguese dishes and wines. To enjoy their homely hospitality you just need to write to them in their blog: http://www.hush-hushgarden.blogspot.com.es/
Simple and beautiful says it all. To reach it you’ll have to take the boat from “Cais do Sodre” station in the direction of Cacilhas. When you get off the boat, turn right and follow the river towards the bridge and in 10 minutes walk you’re there. The views here are spectacular, with simple traditional cuisine all with the freshest fish. Try the chickpea salad with cod. Yum!
Located on the road up to the Castle of San Jorge. It is an entertaining little commune and a cultural hub for hippie types. A bohemian atmosphere and beautiful views. Worth a visit to have a look around and have a coffee if you fancy it.
COFFEE AND SWEET THINGS
Would you believe me if I told you that here you’ll find the best chocolate cake in the entire world? Well then, I want you to try and tell me what you think! The protagonist here, and the only thing on offer is the chocolate cake; and let me tell you once you’ve had it, you’ll not have space for anything else. A charming space, comfortable and low-lit. On the central table you will find thousands of magazines in several languages and cookbooks to browse. I recommend it for a quiet coffee.
Pastel de Nata
Try this famous sweet treat in it’s true home at the Jeronimos Monastery in the Belem district. Actually it was first called Pastéis de Belém (Belem Street No. 84-92 to be precise). In the centre of the city you’ll find them in Manteigaria, with a warm cinnamon topping that’s to die for.
VEGETARIAN FOOD AND ORGANIC OPTIONS
Ink cafe (Barrio alto)
A tiny place with paintings of animals on the walls that brighten up the day. Simple, unpretentious and everything is organic. In you’re around the viewpoint of Santa Catarina why not drop by for a fresh natural juice.
A cosy atmosphere with an ethos that we like a lot: the food as a foundation of our wellbeing. It is a simple place where all the produce is organically sourced and offering up a wide variety of vegetarian options.
WHERE TO SHOP
A Vida Portuguesa
Here you’ll find special home-grown products from Portugal. You’ll understand me when I tell you to take it slow, there are many beautiful things to see and find so don’t rush. From local delicacies to artisan soaps, all products are carefully curated.
You’ll find Eambaixada in the chic neighbourhood of Principe Real. It’s a palatial impromptu shopping mall of sorts, full of a variety of new brands all with lots of personality. In the courtyard it has a cool little cafe and a fantastic cocktail bar. The ideal place to spend a chilled out afternoon.
WHERE TO GET A DRINK
Let me suggest a couple of places to you: Pensao de Amor and Bar La Velha Senohra. Known to be have been the busiest brothel in town, now a delightful hotspot that still keeps a bit of sauciness in the atmosphere with it’s spectacular burlesque shows. But not everything is about the show, in the bohemian atmosphere of La Velha Senohra they also serve traditional snacks and its innuendo filled cocktail list is well worth a look.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Torel Palace Hotel
Seemingly far and yet so close; you’d never think that this is only a 3 minutes tram ride from the town centre. A little palace that overlooks the city in a tranquil setting, where each of the rooms has their own distinct personality. I guarantee that you’ll fall in love with th the colours and the vibe of this exquisite hideaway, yes, cameras at the ready for some jealous-making holiday snaps …!
In summer it becomes even more specials with the outdoor pool and terrace that feels reminiscent of a southern Italian setting. well reminds us of the beautiful Italy. The staff are extremely friendly and charismatic. And… it’s also the home of one of my favourite restaurants in the city: Cave 23.