Loving food is almost a prerequisite to be a traveler. Especially if you’re visiting Portugal. From North to South of the country there are traditional dishes, delicacies, and new flavors to discover. Savory or sweet. Made with fresh ingredients, with old recipes. Cooked by old and knowledgeable women or new chefs.
Lisbon is the capital city and a place where you can find an array of different restaurants. From the most exquisite to the most popular, you have plenty to choose from. Let us give you some suggestions.
For most travelers, food might be a nightmare. Either because they don’t know the ingredients or because the flavors are either too strong or too blend. In Portuguese cuisine, you have both. But a gastronomic experience is one of the many ways to know a country’s culture and habits.
We have six suggestions for you, all traditional. From unpretentious little tavern-like restaurants to more sophisticated options. All of them delicious. All of them fit for the most demanding of palates.
Unpretentious and affordable
‘Maçã Verde’ (Santa Apolónia)
This is a very simple, down to earth restaurant in Lisbon. There’s nothing interesting about the decoration. The main attraction is, indeed, the food and its flavors. It’s like going to your grandmas’ house. This is the perfect place for a warm, homemade meal.
The bean rice or the tomato rice, the ‘codfish cakes’ (made of water, flour, parsley, eggs, and codfish) are our favorites! Simple, traditional and delicious. For dessert, you should try the ‘leite creme’ (similar to crème brulèe) or the ‘arroz doce’ (sweet rice).
Take the time to appreciate the familial atmosphere and enjoy it. There are still some places where the food and the people make you feel at home. This is one of those places.
Be aware that if it’s lunchtime, there will be a line. If you’re not in a hurry, ask for how long you’ll need to wait. They don’t usually get the times wrong. And it’s worth the wait. This restaurant is located very to close to Santa Apolónia train station, Alfama and Mouraria area.
Rua dos Caminhos de Ferro, 84
Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 11 pm. Closed on Saturday and Sunday.
‘A Gina’ (Parque Mayer)
Not all restaurants are just about food. ‘A Gina’ is a family run restaurant and the service is amazing. They will make you feel at home. With the food and the treatment. They are warm and friendly. They have a smile on their face and it’s contagious.
This is one of the hidden gems when you talk about traditional restaurants in Lisbon. It’s located in the city center, a few steps away from Avenida da Liberdade. It is also part of a theatrical complex called Parque Mayer. Up until the 90s, it was a lively complex, where you could choose from a handful of vaudeville plays. In the early 2000’s Gina was the only restaurant left from 13. They didn’t want to leave. The complex is being renovated and it’s getting its charm and liveliness back.
‘A Gina’ is almost like an institution at Parque Mayer. Most artists and audiences had their meals there. If you want to know more about the glamour and backstage stories of the golden era of a Portuguese vaudeville theatre, you’re at the right place.
But let’s talk about food: are you a fan of fresh fish and tender meat? All grilled dishes are mouth watering. So are the seafood plates. Try the ‘Barrosã’ meat or any of the grilled fresh fish. It’s very difficult to name a favorite dish as their menu is very rich and all the dishes are delicious.
One thing you should keep in mind: the portions are big. If you’re not used to eating a lot at dinner time, maybe you should consider sharing a portion.
Don’t miss the opportunity to have your meal at the back terrace. It’s a very comfortable place and you can hear the birds on the trees at the Botanical Garden (on the back!).
Parque Mayer (Avenida da Liberdade)
Open everyday from 12 pm to 11:30 pm.
Floresta do Salitre (Av.Liberdade)
Floresta do Salitre is very close to Avenida da Liberdade. At lunchtime, it will be full of locals on their lunch break. If you don’t like to wait for your meal, please arrive early. Don’t make us go ‘I told you so’ on you.
If you’re into homemade food, tender meat, grilled fish all served with a smile on the side, you’ve come to the right place. The ingredients are fresh, the recipes are traditional, the love for the food is genuine. What more can you wish for on a meal? Don’t expect very elaborate dishes. This is a traditional Portuguese food restaurant. The suckling pig belly is scrumptious. So are the fries. Yes, we are picky about our fries! They peel them, cut them and fried them. They don’t come in a bag, pre-cooked and salted. These are the real deal fries!
Don’t be surprised if you are one of the few tourists at the restaurant. It will be lively, people will talk, eat their meal and go back to work. You can take a chance and go for lunch a bit later. But you won’t have all the dessert options to choose from!
Either you choose to go for an early or a late lunch, they will great you with a smile and the food will be delicious. Before or after the meal, take the time to walk around downtown Lisbon and enjoy the light and the architecture of the city
Rua do Salitre, 42 D – 1250-096 Lisboa
Monday to Friday: 12 pm to 3pm / 7pm to 10pm; Saturday: 7pm-10pm
O Mattos (Alvalade)
A bit off the beaten track, ‘O Mattos’ is, as most of the Lisbon restaurants recommended in this article, a traditional Portuguese food restaurant, where all things grilled are a specialty. Take our word for it: they master the art of the grill!
If you want to try something really typical go for ‘peixinhos da horta’ (literally ‘little fishes from the garden’) for the entree. It’s tempura green beans. Simple and delectable. You can also go for the Nisa cheese (semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese) if you appreciate savory cheeses.
For the main course, ‘lulas à Mattos’ (squid) is a very good option. For the meat lovers, spare ribs (‘entremeada de porco’) would be our suggestion. But you have a long list of goluptious dishes to choose from. All ingredients are fresh.
If you’re not full after your meal and want to go for dessert, ‘encharcada’ or ‘pudim Abade de Priscos’ is a great choice. But be aware: they are extra sweet. Both are made with eggs and sugar. So they are also very caloric. Look at this as a one time experience. You won’t be needing any sugar in your body for quite some time!
As this is a bit off the center, after such a rich meal, walking back to the city center is the best way to digest!
R. Bulhão Pato 2 – 1700-082 Lisboa
Monday to Saturday: 12 pm to 3 pm; 7 pm to 10:30 pm
Bastardo is about the food and the atmosphere. Great meals in an eccentric and beautiful atmosphere. Most dishes include traditional Portuguese ingredients that are taken to the next level of invention and flavor.
Their unique attitude is reflected in every detail. From the decoration to the menu, which is divided into three parts: ‘ready’ for the entrees, ‘set’ for the main course and ‘go’ for the desserts. It will be difficult to choose what to eat. All the dishes descriptions’ look delightful. The menu is luscious.
Location, location, location! ‘Bastardo’ is located in the center of Lisbon. When we say ‘the center’ we really mean ‘the center’. Rossio is part of the center. So, find the International Design Hotel, press the button for the first floor and enter this world of wonder.
It’s difficult for us to choose a dish. They all mix the old with the new. You can feel the taste of your grandmas’ recipes but you can also feel the chef’s upgrade.
Rua da Betesga nr 3 – 1st floor – Rossio, Lisboa
Sunday to Thursday: 7 pm to 10:30 pm / Friday and Saturday: 7 pm to 11:30 pm.
Solar dos Presuntos (Baixa)
This is the right restaurant to go if you’re not worried about the amount you’re going to spend. Solar dos Presuntos is another traditional Portuguese restaurant where you can find great fresh products and succulent dishes.
The seafood selection, the meat quality, the fish freshness are some of the reasons to go to Solar dos Presuntos. Its location is also a plus. This restaurant is located in downtown Lisbon, right next to the Coliseu, in walking distance from Avenida da Liberdade and Rossio.
First things first: if you decide to go to Solar do Presuntos you should be in the mood to enjoy a big meal. You should also make a reservation. This is one of the busiest restaurants in the city so, just to be sure you don’t have to wait long for your table, call ahead and make a reservation.
When it comes to food, as we said before, everything is good. But we would recommend you focus on the seafood. The whole crab is cooked to perfection: tasty and tender. The lobster and shrimp curry are one of the best options on the menu. The octopus is oh so tender! It feels like butter melting on your mouth.
The decoration is simple and there are photos of dignitaries and famous individuals on the walls, as well as sports jerseys signed by the athletes. If you don’t like lively atmospheres, you should reconsider your visit. As this is one of the most famous restaurants in town, it’s usually full and it is a bit loud.
Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, 150, (Avenida da Liberdade) Lisboa
Monday to Saturday: 12 pm – 3:30 pm / 6:45 pm – 11 pm.
Lisbon has a never-ending list of good restaurants to go to and enjoy a meal. Whether you’re looking for traditional Portuguese food or world cuisine, there’s something to meet your taste. We can recommend and sit you at the right tables!
Come explore and taste this world of flavors and textures with us!
A Gina: https://www.facebook.com/restauranteagina/
Maçã Verde: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Portuguese-Restaurant/Ma%C3%A7%C3%A3-Verde-157747050977497/
Solar dos Presuntos: https://www.facebook.com/solardospresuntos/
Floresta do Salitre: https://www.yelp.com/biz/floresta-do-salitre-lisboa