Lisbon is one of Europes most historic and up and coming cities, and with new chefs, both local and international, making waves in modern Portuguese cuisine, here ere are some suggestions for restaurants to try while there.
JncQUOI was a first for Lisbon: a historic theater on Avenida da Liberdade that was converted into a fashionable trifecta, with a high-end men’s store, a bar, and a restaurant. A T-rex replica welcomes patrons, but the rest of the restaurant is a mix of old and new world, with restored frescoes and views of the Avenida. The menu includes cod with tomato and chickpea, foie gras on toasted brioche with shallot jam, and more than a dozen French and Portuguese cheeses. More than anything though, this is a place to come and feel cool. Definitely come here in your finest threads—but without looking like you’re trying too hard—if you want to make an impression.
From the team behind beloved seaside Sal Restaurante in Comporta, Bota Sal is a more youthful Lisbon offshoot in the Estrela district. Lined with seafoam green corrugated metal walls and weathered wood chairs, the space channels its salty older sibling while delivering a more modern take on maritime cuisine. Try the sirloin steak, which comes with a house made sauce and French fries; there's also an octopus salad, deep-water rose shrimp from the Algarve, and cuttlefish with bacon strips and coriander. For dessert, go for the lavender-infused milk custard.
Taberna da Rua das Flores’ azulejo-tile floor and glass cabinets filled with Portuguese tchotchkes, dishes, and glassware immediately makes this cozy restaurant feel like one of the narrow Baixa-Chiado homes that surrounds it. This classic tavern churns out traditional dishes using fresh ingredients prepared in a variety of traditional and contemporary methods. Highlights include the mackerel tartare, seasonal gazpacho, local cheese platters, preserved sardines on toast, and fresh whole shrimp. At peak times, food can take a while to arrive at your table, so it’s best to come when your schedule is flexible.
The palatial facade of this former mansion makes quite the first impression, especially as a setting for this quirky, pharmacy-themed restaurant that shares real estate with the Museu de Farmácia in Lisbon’s Santa Catarina district. An AstroTurf-dotted lawn with cheeky patio furniture invites diners to enjoy an aperitivo with views of the Tagus River before moving inside for the main course. Pharmacia does petiscos—Portuguese snacks—right, with duck croquettes with orange jam and traditional rice with pumpkin and mint. This is a fun, offbeat place to kick off a night out.
This beloved Lisbon beer hall and restaurant occupies three floors; but despite all the seating, you should still expect to wait in line before you score a table. Once you’re inside, it’s a scene to behold: a cacophony of chefs cooking, shrimp shells cracking, and glasses clinking, plus the contagious energy of a Portuguese fish market. If you want to do Cervejaria Ramiro right, start out with an aperitivo (locals go for a martini), then dive into the extensive Portuguese wine list. It's heavy on whites—there's a good selection of vinho verde—but don’t overlook the light reds that also pair well with the seafood. Mariscos (shellfish) are the specialty here, so be prepared to make a mess. Lobster, prawns—the gamba do Algarve is a must—and crab are all prepared to perfection and served by the kilogram.
Perched on an a cobblestoned alley in Alfama is something unexpected, at least for this traditional, fado-obsessed neighborhood: experimental contemporary cooking. The space is a transformed butcher shop—now a modern bistro appointed with Scandinavian-inspired wood furniture. The menu changes by the week (and at the whims of the chef), but past highlights have included suckling pig, kale with horseradish and shrimp dust, and desserts like tofu custard with toffee bits. Like the menu, the drinks are limited but thoughtful. Put your trust in the server for wine pairings—you won’t be disappointed.
A Cevicheria, a tiny restaurant on trendy Principe Real, stops pedestrians in their tracks when they see the giant Instagram-famous octopus sculpture dangling above the dining room like a nautical chandelier. Given its name, it’s no surprise that ceviche is the star of the menu at chef Kiko Martin’s restaurant. But this is elevated ceviche, not your standard vacation-resort stuff. There are approximately four to choose from, from the ceviche puro, made with seasonal white fish, sweet potato, and seaweed, to salmon ceviche with mango and orange. A devoted Peruvian restaurant, A Cevicheria worships the altar of pisco, and it would be sacrilegious to start a meal with anything other than the house pisco sour.
Since its arrival Prado has injected new life into the traditional, calçada-lined neighborhood of Baixa. Ferns and ivy dangle from the rafters, and the cavernous space—a former conserves factory—is flooded with natural light, making it feel like a terrarium. The setting is fitting for the food: fresh, organic, and heavy on produce. This is where your niche knowledge of obscure seaweed can really shine (the menu can take a little decoding to figure out exactly what's what). Regardless, each dish is cooked perfectly; even something as simple as smoked Iberico pork lardo on toast with florina apple can steal the show. But don’t let that stop you from moving onto the more challenging, like black scabbard with nasturtium flowers and heritage radish.
Don’t be fooled by the austere ambiance here—tile walls, no artwork—this little tasca (a casual Portuguese eatery) directs all its energy into the one thing that matters here: The food. As the name suggests, this tasca is all about petiscos—Portugal’s signature tasty, bite-size, shareable, dishes. But Petisco Saloio does it with their own elevated twist: Rather than light snacks, the dishes here tend to be heartier and richer. Think braised pork cheeks with sweet potato gratin, fluffed herbed rice with wild shrimp, and oxtail stew.
This recently restored gem—it originally opened some 150 years ago—is one of the establishments that has survived Lisbon’s wave of trend-chasing, tourist-oriented restaurants. The result is that arriving feels like stumbling upon a classic find. With new teal tiles made in the image of the historic ones they replaced and nostalgic antiques, the dining room here exudes history with a fresh face. he dishes here reflect the decor: thoughtful, enticing, and classic Portuguese but with a modern spin. Codfish fritters with turnip greens and rice, pork with polenta and clams, and rice with lobster are just a few examples of dishes that keep patrons coming back.