There is no such thing as a bad meal in Lisbon – from the simplest of dishes to the most elaborate, Lisboetas take food seriously. It’s impossible to condense everywhere you can taste mouth-watering cuisine in Portugal's capital city in one article, but we've cooked up a list of the best places to eat in Lisbon for all tastes and budgets.
Best cheap eats
Known by local workers as a place for a cheap and quick bite, since Anthony Bourdain visited O Trevo in 2012, the cafe became widely known as the place to eat the best bifana in Lisbon. The sandwich of thin slices of marinated pork meat pairs well with a cold beer. Mustard is optional.
Koppu Ramen Izakaya
Intimate Koppu Ramen Izakaya, on a side street of Avenida da Liberdade, is the perfect spot for ramen lovers. You don't need to rush in this laid back spot and slurping is recommended.
The Portuguese cuisine menu is appealing, but the main star at A Valenciana is definitely the piri-piri grilled chicken. The crispy-skinned, juicy chicken comes with crisps, white rice, and piri-piri sauce on the side.
Best high-end dining
The newest business endeavour of Portuguese chef José Avillez is a curated culinary and musical experience called Canto. Avillez partnered with Portuguese singers António Zambujo and Ana Moura to curate a typically Portuguese experience; from the menu, to the live concerts at dinner. The signature cocktails available at the bar include two named after Zambujo and Moura.
Café de São Bento
A stone’s throw from the Portuguese Parliament, Café de São Bento has been a favourite lunch and dinner spot for government officials, members of parliament, and political leaders since 1982. These days, running into a top Portuguese political figure inside this Victorian-style restaurant is less likely, but two things have remained unchanged: the friendly staff and the greatest steak in the city. Bife à Café de São Bento, swimming in its creamy sauce, is still the dish worth hunting this institution out for.
Unlike other restaurants in Príncipe Real that succumbed to gentrification, Faz Frio reinvented itself and kept its roots. At this 150-year-old restaurant, get a taste of history (and perhaps old clandestine conversations) at one of the private cabinets. Here you’ll find contemporary twists to traditional dishes like bacalhau à Zé do Pipo (gratin cod with mash potatoes and mayonnaise) or bacalhau com todos (boiled cod with eggs, chickpeas, and seasonal vegetables).
Top vegan and vegetarian
The very first vegetarian restaurant in Lisbon, Os Tibetanos is the place of reference for veggie food since it opened over 30 years ago. This city classic is famous for its Tibetan momos, steamed or fried. The tranquil and peaceful environment includes a shop, a Buddhist temple, and a school on the top floor of the building.
Jardim dos Sentidos
Jardim dos Sentidos serves a daily buffet of vegan and vegetarian dishes with a fixed menu at lunch. At dinner, feast on the Portobello mushroom lasagne or gluten-free chilli. Save room for dessert and go for a slice of the raw cake of the day or the apple and plum crumble with vanilla ice cream. Weather permitting, book a table in the pretty garden.
The vegetarian menu at Organi Chiado changes with the season, but the organic, locally-sourced ingredients remain consistent. In the heart of busy Chiado, this restaurant welcomes vegetarians and plant-based diets with simple dishes. Pair them with a juice of the day, a glass of organic wine, or a natural, sugar-free cola.
Top traditional restaurants
Imperial de Campo de Ourique
Imperial de Campo de Ourique is known amongst the locals as 'Tasca do João', after the friendly owner that greets everyone, even if you’re there for the first time. The portions are huge and hearty, as one should expect from a restaurant run by a family from the Minho region in the north of Portugal.
Varina da Madragoa
One of the few traditional restaurants left in Madragoa, locals, regular customers, and food experts claim that Varina da Madragoa serves the best bacalhau à brás in town (shredded cod sautéed in a mix of eggs and chips). The good news is that you don’t have to wait for a particular day to give it a try because they’ll cook the famous dish on the spot even if it’s not on the daily specials.
Opened with the help of the same not-for-profit organisation behind Mezze, Mão-Cheia employs chefs who are over 65 years old. It doesn’t get closer to a grandmother’s home-cooked meal than this. Every day at this restaurant (which is in the museum, Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva) you’ll get to taste the cook of the day's speciality, from the typical cozido à portuguesa (stew with meat, sausages, and vegetables) to Brazilian-style feijoada (stew with beans, beef and pork).
Best of Mouraria
O Cantinho do Aziz
Serving typical Mozambican food, the dishes at O Cantinho do Aziz are as colourful and warm as the ambience. Dig into traditional dishes like chicken muamba or lamb chacuti. Don’t take the waiters’ word for granted when they say the sauce that comes with the samosas is really spicy if you can’t handle hot food.
Tasca Zé dos Cornos
Small and always crowded at lunch, the swift service at Tasca Zé dos Cornos helps to keep a steady flow of entering and exiting customers, no reservations needed. Be prepared to share a canteen-style table with strangers while you work your way through this small family-owned restaurant’s signature dish: grilled spare ribs with chips and bean rice (on selected days).
Infame is a high-end restaurant at the Art Nouveau 1908 Lisboa Hotel. The menu is a nod to the cultural melting pot that is Mouraria, with dishes like Kung Fu Ragu or the Octopus garden that takes on a typical Portuguese dish, grilled octopus with smashed potatoes, and adds the twist of a side of pak choi cabbage.
Best pastel de nata
At the tiny pastry shop in Chiado, dozens of people line up every day for a fresh batch of warm pastéis de nata. For the more distracted, the staff at Manteigaria tolls the bell to let everyone in the neighbourhood know there’s a new batch. Pastel de nata is their speciality and they sell nothing else, except for cold and hot drinks. Buttery, not too sweet, and creamy, for many Lisboetas Manteigaria’s pastries are the best in the city.
Antiga Confeitaria de Belém
The place that started the whole craze around pastéis de nata, Antiga Confeitaria de Belém holds the oldest recipe of the custard tarts in Lisbon. They’ve been making these bite-sized sweet treats by hand since 1837 and legend has it that bakers are sworn to secrecy about the recipe. Unlike the other versions of the pastry baked in Lisbon, pasteis de Belém are best consumed immediately and warm.
In a country where egg yolks are one of the main ingredients of all traditional pastries and desserts, family-owned Pastelaria Batalha dared to do the unthinkable: creating the vegan pastel de nata. Butter-, milk- and egg-free, the vegan custard tarts are just as creamy, tasty, and crispy as the traditional ones.