One thing my research on Lisbon didn’t prepare me for is just how good the food is! After walking up and down hills exploring the picturesque neighborhoods around the city, you definitely work up an appetite, and the food scene in Lisbon is more than willing to serve up whatever your heart desires. I’ve broken down some of my favorite places that suit any taste. Whether you’re looking for a coffee shop for a quick pick-me-up, a classic seafood joint, or something sweet, this guide has you covered!
TO START YOUR DAY
While the merits of breakfast being the most important meal of the day are debatable, there’s no denying the joy of starting your morning with a tasty latte and a snack (or two). I was so thankful when several of you mentioned that I had to check out Hello, Kristof on Poço dos Negros. This cozy little cafe with an interior that would make any designer swoon is a perfect spot to post up.
Grab a matcha latte with oat milk and any of their toasts for a bite that will wake the senses and start your day on the right foot. If you find the cafe to be a bit crowded, you can walk down less than a block and find yourself at Break; also carrying tasty toasts and a killer matcha latte to boot, this nondescript restaurant appeals more to locals than its trendy neighbor. I recommend trying the shakshuka or any of their baked goods (while they last). Coincidentally, the third place for breakfast that is worth a stop is also on this same street. The mill features colorful plates with equally vibrant food. This Australian-Portuguese café puts a spin on the Lisboan classics and boasts a specialty coffee menu fit for a caffeine connoisseur.
FOR A QUICK BITE
Some of you may recall the three-night trip giveaway I did with thefenway.com giving one winner an escape to Lisbon almost a year ago today. It also included an experience at the TimeOut Market , host to 24 restaurants, 8 bars, a dozen shops, and even a music venue. When I was in Lisbon, I knew I had to stop here to taste as many concepts as I could! This a great place to gather with a group of friends, or grab a quick bite on the go. It’s also perfect if you’re traveling with an adventurous or picky eater because you can order from several concepts at once, meaning everyone’s happy! Don’t be fooled by the casual setting though — this valhalla of cultural cuisine packs a flavorful punch and with a touch of refinement.
NO FRILLS SEAFOOD
Looking for something more traditional? There are plenty of seafood locales that skip the pomp and circumstance, and focus on the thing that truly matters… the food. Looking into the windows of Zapata, you’ll see the daily catch, with a variety of selfish, including prawns, clams and barnacles. For the seasoned traveler, the appeal of a restaurant like this doesn’t only lie in the fresh, simple taste of traditional dishes, but also in the company at neighboring tables.
One of the more popular restaurants with this reputation for straightforward food without embellishment is Ramiro. Popularity grew after Anthony Bourdain’s visit to the restaurant while filming No Reservations. Not much has changed since his visit, however they now have tablets for ordering instead of physical menus, and there are definitely more tourists there than before. The service is transactional, but quick, and food is brought out as it is prepared. Typically, they are known to have a line out the door, but we used this as a late-night food destination, meaning we didn’t have to stand outside before chowing down around midnight. Prawns and clams were quickly devoured, but the real gem of this spot is their steak sandwich, or locally known as a prego. Honestly, I could probably eat an entire dinner completely comprised of this savory, mouthwatering snack.
My boyfriend and I have different approaches when it comes to dining out. He famously says that he is “too big for tapas”, meaning small dishes and more refined cuisine don’t quite fill him up, whereas I’m perfectly happy chasing gastronomical experiences, which may mean smaller plates. I have a feeling the men in your life may feel the same way, making eating out with your loved one a little complicated abroad. However, with the help of the concierge team at the Palacio Belmonte, we dined at a few restaurants during our time in Lisbon that we walked out both smiling at the end of the meal. The first, being Taberna Bairro do Avillez. One of the less fancy iterations of José Avillez’ many restaurant concepts in Lisbon, this place cooks “hearty” small plates in a laid-back atmosphere.
But, one date night stands out amongst the rest. Across the Tagus to Almada you will find yourself with one of the best views in the city in what feels like the middle of nowhere. The restaurant we were headed to is called Ponto Final. Normally, one can take the ferry across the river, but our schedules didn’t quite align with the departure times. Instead, our Uber dropped us off at the start of a long walkway, which led to a 50m tall elevator. You take the elevator down and walk along the ocean on an open, unlit walkway. The ten minute walk feels like ages, and then you start to wonder if there is even a restaurant down this path at all. “Are we walking into a scene out of a horror movie?!” Those words left my mouth just as we reached the final corner. And to our surprise, we were met by small storefront with glass doors, and home to a restaurant with classic Portuguese dishes served family style, a formidable wine list, and some mango desserts that would knock your socks off. I think that was one of our favorite nights together as a couple, and I look back on it fondly. If you’re visiting with a loved one, I hope it serves a little magic to you as well.
There is no visiting Lisbon without snacking on something sweet. Pastéis de nata is breakfast for most locals, but visitors usually devour them at all hours of the day. I became partial to the ones served by Manteigaria, but other options like Versailles, Pastelaria Alcôa, and Confeitaria Nacional are sure to tickle your tastebuds just the same. While the pastéis de nata were sinfully good, there was one dessert that had us crawling back for seconds; in fact, it ended up being our breakfast on our way to the airport. The cake from Landeau Chocolate. Holy smokes. If you take any advice from this blog post, it is to not only go to Landeau, but to get your own piece, and don’t share a single bite with anyone else. You will not be disappointed.
Have another recommendation of where to eat in Lisbon? Let me know in the comments below 🙂