There’s no better place to wander cobbled streets and snack on local delights than Lisbon. This city keeps things chill. The restaurants won’t ever usher you out to allow for another table, encouraging you to order more if you fancy it later. The museums will make you want to stay there for hours. The pastel de natas will have you eating three of them in a row. The Portuguese capital is one of our faves not only because of its rich culture, delicious restaurants and great bars, but because it’s so pretty to walk through. The sights, the architecture! We just love it.
Here are just some of the best restaurants to keep an eye out for during your time in the city.
The Bairro Alto Hotel is one of the best hotels in Lisbon, and while hotel restaurants can be hit or miss, BAHR is a triumph. The decor – all curved ceilings, cosy corners and oversized wooden bar – is immediately welcoming, but some diners may prefer to skip the interiors and instead dine on the terrace, with a view of the city and Tagus river. Either way, your attention will soon be drawn back in by the menu headed up by chef Bruno Rochas which features a twist on classic Portuguese cuisine, resulting in dishes such as garlicky grilled squid with runner beans and turnip, raw beef ‘pica-pau’ taco with just a hint of pineapple and buttery wild turbot with green kale sauce and chorizo – the latter of which comes highly recommended.
O Velho Eurico
Walking into O Velho Eurico almost feels like you’ve stumbled upon a local secret; but my goodness, what a find. The cosy restaurant, hidden in a corner on the way to São Jorge Castle, is filled to the brim every night with locals keen to enjoy a twist on classic Portuguese dishes. The menu has some mainstays, such as bacalhau à brás (a classic dish made from shreds of salted cod, onions and thinly chopped fried potatoes) and bolo lêve do chambão (beef shank sando), but dishes are updated or changed relatively recently; on my most recent visit, I was particularly taken with the squirty fries (topped with cheese and a tomato-based gravy) and choco alhado (cuttlefish and garlic).
Recently awarded number 46 on the annual list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, Belcanto was the first restaurant in Lisbon to earn two Michelin stars. Chef Jose Avillez is practically a celebrity in Lisbon, so expectations are high – and Belcanto doesn't disappoint. Interiors are chic and grand, without feeling stuffy. Meanwhile, service is impeccable; the wait staff are friendly but not overbearing, and share information about each dish without disturbing your evening.
Diners can choose from three tasting menus, or a la carte – but the former is the real treat. The Evolution menu combines Portuguese flavours with new textures; expect plump scarlet shrimp served in a curry sauce with apple, delicate minced squid housed in incredibly crunchy roasted chicken skin and perfectly-cooked crispy suckling pig with puffed potatoes, all served with impeccable Portuguese wines, should you opt for the wine pairing.
Ofício Tasco Atípico
The newly-reopened Ofício is so popular with locals that it’s booked up weeks in advance, but it’s well worth trying to get hold of a table to sample the inventive cuisine and soak up the fun atmosphere. The menu has more ‘must-try dishes’ than most in the city; the Alheira sausage croquette, which hides a runny quail’s egg at its centre like a Portuguese version of a scotch egg, is impeccable, while crispy crackling and stuffed spider crab from the Algarve shouldn’t be missed. No meal is complete, though, without a slice (or whole, if you can manage it) of the cheese tart; a dense, slightly sweet and entirely creamy dessert dreamt up during the second lockdown by chef Hugo Candeias. Despite the fact that they're full to the brim with diners, staff will be only too happy to talk passionately about the flavours and ingredients in the dishes, or share a wine pairing recommendation – make the most of their knowledge and pick their brains as they bring your plates.
Opened in 2018 by couple Agnes and Alexis Bourrat, BouBou’s is a family affair – Alexis’ sister Charlie Bourrat hand-picks wines for the restaurant, while his other sister Louise heads up the kitchen, bringing her rebellious, experimental style to BouBou’s. The result is a fun, casual fine dining restaurant in arguably the most food-focused district in Lisbon.
If tasting menus are your thing, this one is truly impeccable. Dishes are varied, fun and full of flavour, with a focus on seasonal produce and zero waste. The restaurant isn’t vegetarian, but there’s a tendency to lean toward veggie-heavy dishes – expect sweet potato served with coconut tiger milk and kaffir lime, and a nori taco with kimchi rice and glazed seitan – although it’s one of the few times checking out the menu beforehand isn’t advised, so you can be pleasantly surprised by each dish. The wine pairing is also highly recommended; our sommelier carefully talked us through every glass (all Portuguese, of course), and each was more delicious than the last.
There’s something incredibly satisfying about wandering the streets of a new city and finding a great eatery, and this little-known secret is one I’m only too willing to share. Hidden away on a residential street in the Anjos area of Lisbon, Trinca is a modern small plates restaurant in a traditional building. Serving up world dishes heavily inspired by South American, Japanese and, of course, Portuguese cuisines, diners can expect dishes such as prawn ceviche, vindaloo pork ribs and Katsu sandos. The wine selection is also excellent, and the friendly and passionate staff help to make an evening here feel like a night with friends, even if you’re solo dining.
Is there a better setting for a restaurant than the beachfront? While the city has endless foodie options, there's something extra special about dining with the sound of the waves, and this new opening has taken that sunshine feeling and enhanced it, with rattan furniture, friendly staff and fresh flavours. Start with oysters (of course), and move on to sharing plates; zucchini baba-ganoush with mint and raspberries, Seabass sashimi with green apple, celery and fennel and a green summer salad with nectarines, yellow zucchini and smoked chickpeas. The seafood rice, with juicy prawns and chunks of octopus, is the stand-out dish on the menu from chefs Dario Costa and Udi Barkan and Pedro Henrique Lima. Best of all, the restaurant spills onto the sands, so you can head towards the water after your meal with a cocktail in hand.
Prado is the Portuguese word for “meadow”, and the restaurant applies a local focus on everything they serve thanks to partnerships with local farmers, fishermen and wine producers. This means their menu is proudly 100 per cent Portuguese and features dishes such as pumpkin with whey and toasted butter, fish with lobster emulsion and brioche with white port and chocolate. Before joining Prado, Chef António Galapito worked with hometown hero Nuno Mendes and brings a versatile and varied passion for food that's evident in the menu and beautifully-presented dishes. Ideally you'll want to bring a few friends so that you can sample them all and soak the creative, hip and fun atmosphere as part of a crowd – plus indulge in a bottle of wine or two, with help from the knowledgable sommelier.
When Anthony Bourdain visited Ramiro in 2013 during filming for his show No Reservations, he turned the local cervejaria (beer bar) into a must-visit restaurant for tourists and locals. Despite the name, Ramiro serves up truly incredible seafood, including lobster, prawns and crab – all served by the kilogram (and therefore best enjoyed with a larger group). Most diners skip dessert and instead opt for a Prego – a beef sandwich served with mustard – which is, to this day, the best I’ve ever tasted in Lisbon. The restaurant covers three floors, but you should expect to queue before you manage to score a table.
Executive chef Henrique Sa Pessoa heads up the menu at double Michelin-starred ALMA, and diners can expect an international twist on Portuguese cuisine, making this a favourite of local foodies. The restaurant initially opened in Santos in 2009 and catapulted chef Henrique to stardom via TV and cookbooks – six years later it moved to Chiado, and ALMA is still shining bright seven years on. Dishes are first and foremost inspired by Henrique's life in Lisbon, with flavours from his travels around the world coming into the mix. Diners can choose between fixed menus ‘coast to coast’, using Portuguese fish, or ‘soul’, inspired by the chef's classics – or for those who'd rather choose, there's an a la carte menu. Housed in a former warehouse that was formerly one of the oldest bookshops in the world, this is a restaurant that truly feels like an experience, and certainly one for the bucket list.