Best Restaurants in Lisbon to Eat Like a Local
For decades, Portuguese from all parts of the country moved to Lisbon and brought their homestyle recipes with them. The result? A melting pot of delicious traditional food and mouthwatering fusions. Sandra Guedes helped us figure out the best restaurants in Lisbon to eat like a local.
Lisbon, the westernmost European capital on the mainland, is gaining an international reputation for its cooking. Foodies from all corners of the globe visit its markets and go on food tours in search of those typical Portuguese flavours or a new creative fusion recently invented. Lisboners love eating and who can blame them? Lisbon’s food scene moves very fast and new restaurants keep sprouting up on the old cobblestone streets, going from the anonymity to the gastronomic spotlight very quickly. It’s hard to keep secrets in Lisbon, especially secrets that keep the Lisboner’s stomachs happy.
With just a few days in the Portuguese capital, it may be hard to choose where to eat. There are touristic restaurants with menus in four or five languages — where locals do not eat, cheap snack bars, small cheap restaurants Lisboners refer to as “tascas,” fast foods stalls, shopping centre food halls and cervejarias or beer houses, to mention a few options. To make it even trickier, the look, quality and price are far from synonymous. The solution to this gastronomic dilemma? Ask a local. Sandra Guedes, the writer and blogger behind OddtoYou.co.uk to the rescue. With her help, we’ve got the lowdown on the best restaurants in Lisbon to eat like a local and we’re going to serve it up to you on a plate.
Stay at the design-led Memmo Alfama Hotel and get ready to tuck into some amazing food in Lisbon’s best kept secrets.
SOUTHERN PORTUGUESE HOSPITALITY AT CASA DO ALENTEJO
Photo credit: Casa Do Alentejo
- Recommended for: Specialises in food from the Alentejo region, with a cosy atmosphere in a romantic, hidden spot.
- Address: Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 58, 1150 Lisboa, Portugal
- Opens: Monday to Sunday, 10 a.m. — 10 p.m.
- Price Range: Mains range from €11 to €20
It’s very easy to walk past Casa do Alentejo before even realising it is there. On the outside, it’s an old beige building like so many others in the Portuguese capital, not very far from the Rossio station. Its facade hides as much history as it does inner beauty. As you climb the steps, you’ll travel through time into the halls of an old palace. These rooms played many roles in Lisbon society for at least three centuries; at some point, they even housed Lisbon’s first casino. Now, by walking into this secluded fairytale restaurant, your taste buds will embark on a trip to the humble beginnings of typical food in Alentejo. It ticks all the boxes from good service to the best southern Portuguese hospitality in the capital.
PETISCOS AND LOCAL WINE AT BEATUS
Photo credit: Beatus Restaurant
- Recommended for: Serves Portuguese specialities, petiscos plates in a casual dining area with quirky interiors.
- Address: Rua Acacio Barreiro 3, Lisbon 1950–001, Portugal
- Opens: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. — 10 p.m.
- Price Range: Average cost for a meal €20
Beatus located in the arty Marvila district, also underwent a metamorphosis, from warehouse to funky restaurant. It’s a spacious restaurant decorated with eclectic furniture you might find at a flea market and a red double-decker bus that travelled all the way from London to live a second life housing bottles of wine. It’s not the kind of thing you would expect in a restaurant with typical Portuguese food. Nonetheless, this restaurant serves many different petiscos — the Portuguese version of tapas — and a huge variety of local wine or homemade beer to wash them down. To make the experience of going to this alternative restaurant even better, some days there’s free live music to spice things up.
EAT CHEAP AND DELICIOUS BIFANA AT ZÉ DOS CORNOS
- Recommended for: Serves Portuguese barbecue, authentic specialities and European cuisine in a casual dining tavern.
- Address: Beco dos Surradores 5, 1100 Lisbon, Portugal
- Opens: Monday to Saturday, 8:15 a.m. — 10:15 p.m.
- Price Range: Mains from €11 to €20
Zé dos Cornos, or literally translated, Zé of the horns. It means that although our good friend Zé (short for José) could not control his need for extra-marital love affairs, he is still a very good chef. Located in the Mouraria neighbourhood, the cradle of fado, this small typical Portuguese tasca is tucked away from the hordes of tourists. It’s not that beautiful or quiet; instead, it’s a place for those who care about the inviting smell of the charcoal grilled fish, meats and the infamous bifana — a pork loin sandwich every Portuguese has eaten at least once in their lifetime. It’s a genuinely Portuguese restaurant with cheap food, good homemade wine and friendly staff who will keep feeding you until you are stuffed. To top it all off, the quality of the food is inversely proportional to the price.
BARBECUE AT ZÉ DA MOURARIA
- Recommended for: Barbecue, Portuguese specialities, classic, traditional food, casual dining.
- Address: Rua João do Outeiro 24, 1100 Lisbon, Portugal
- Opens: Monday to Saturday, 12 p.m. — 4 p.m.
- Price Range: Average meal costs €20 per person
A hundred years ago, a Galician called Zé opened a small restaurant, Zé da Mouraria, specialising in barbecues. Zé passed away, but his name and the old azulejos on the walls live on. Now, this simple tasca on the labyrinthine streets leading up to the Castelo de São Jorge is more popular among locals than ever before. In the good old-fashioned Portuguese way, they serve huge portions of typical dishes, including cod. Deemed mandatory to take someone to share this gastronomic experience, it’s actually so good that every local wants a piece of it. Head there at least one hour before you feel the first hunger pangs, in case you have to wait. It’ll be well worth it.
AN AUTHENTIC TASCA EXPERIENCE AT O TRIGUEIRINHO
- Recommended for: Small, family-run restaurant drawing crowds for hearty, traditional Portuguese dishes.
- Address: Largo dos Trigueiros 17, 1100 Lisbon, Portugal
- Opens: Monday to Saturday, 12 p.m. — 3:30 p.m., 8 p.m. — 10:30 p.m.
- Price Range: Under €10
Authentic is the right word to describe this tasca located in the Largo do Trigueirinho. Especially if you ever wondered what it’s like to go to a Portuguese grandmother’s house and be served by Portuguese aunties. O Trigueirinho’s food may take a little bit longer than you are used to, but that’s the price you pay for cheap but delicious homemade food. From the traditional sheep cheeses as starters to the typical desserts, every bite in between is a little piece of food heaven, complemented perfectly with local wine. The Portuguese have three favourite Bs: “bom, bonito e barato” (good, beautiful and cheap) and this restaurant certainly falls under every B.
POP INTO O TASCO DO VIGARIO OFF RUA DOS REMÉDIOS
- Recommended for: A small, cosy tasca, simple and authentic restaurant, with typical, Portuguese dishes.
- Address: Rua do Vigário 18, 1100–451 Lisbon, Portugal
- Opens: Saturday and Monday 9 a.m. — 5 p.m., Tuesday — Friday 9 a.m. — 10 p.m.
- Price Range: €10 approx per person
You’ll find the modest tasca, O Tasco do Vigario, on the cobblestone streets, just a few steps away from the Rua dos Remédios. It’s the place to pop into if you are visiting the Flea Market or the Pantheon. There are usually only a few typical dishes available, from fried fish with tomato rice dish to fried pork with mushrooms but they are far from disappointing. It’s a small family-owned restaurant, but there is always room for one extra person, even if the tables and the stools are taken and you have to wait a little bit.
Originally published at www.travioor.com.