Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Places to eat in Lisbon

I was chatting with a few friends the other day about a restaurant one of them went to, and we got to talking about this other one I recommended and then this other one someone else had heard of....

So I began thinking -
If there is one thing I think everyone needs and wants, its good restaurant reviews.

And ideally from;

a. Someone who you trust / know has good taste.
b. And ideally has been there or lived/lives in the city/town.

I know I for one search endlessly for restaurant reviews and recommendations for cities that I am due to visit or holiday in.
If its Paris, than without doubt I would head straight to David Lebovitz's blog and read his many posts on Top 10 places to visit, to see and to do in Paris.

Last year we spent a weekend in Madrid during Easter and I trawled the web trying to find places to eat at. I ended up reading the Guardian newspaper travel section to find a source that I could trust.

I have lived in Lisbon now for nearly 3 years, and although I am not a 'local', working in a place with lots of locals and speaking to lots of friends I have over the years tried a fare few restaurants.

I have made a list below of the restaurants (and 1 famous cafe) that I would and do recommend to people if I get asked for a good place to eat. They vary in food type, Portuguese, Italian, Mediterranean, and location around Lisbon.
There are a few that have especially nice views/features of Lisbon if you were a visitor. But in general they are places that I turn to if I am going out for lunch or dinner.


1. Royal Cafe

Located in the heart of Lisbon centre, just off one of the busy streets is this wonderful cafe. Run by a close friend, one who I trust for food and style.
The menu offers Mediteranean and Portuguese food, with a sophisticated yet relaxed attitude.
It is a place popular with local stylish people, and has many reviews in international magazines posing it as one of the best cafes/restaurants to visit in Lisbon and I whole heartedly agree.
Definitely try the seasonal specials, hummus with homemade pitta and any of the amazing salads/sandwiches, and their legendary melting chocolate cake.

Perfect for lunch with close friends or partner.

2. Nosolo Italia

Situated on the riverside in Belem, this Italian is definitely not your average Italian restaurant. With an extensive menu choice of pizzas, pastas there is variety for all.
The restaurant has wonderful views out over the river, with seating outside by water and inside.
I would definitely recommend the goats cheese starter, a generous serving of goats cheese, drizzled with honey and walnuts. I always have their spinach ravioli for main - but any other pasta dishes are again generous and with great variety, and choose from any of their wonderful ice-creams.
Also a great place to stop at just for ice-cream or a crepe in the day or night.

Good to go with friends or family.
Do not take reservations.

3. Pao de canela (Cinnamon bread)

In the centre of Lisbon, near the popular area of Principe Real lies this gem of a restaurant.
With seating inside and out on their terrace, it is set in a small square, perfect for an evening dinner for two or brunch with friends.
They offer a great group menu at set prices for larger parties - which I highly recommend. Their impressive entrades (entires before your main meal/small starters) alone are worth a visit with a group.

They are praised for their desserts, and also boast an attached cafe for coffee and cake.

4. Terra

A fantastic buffet style vegetarian restaurant. Located near Principe Real, off one of the small streets.
Great for lunch, offering a wonderful selection of Portuguese style dishes, all cooked with alternative meat options - Tofu, Seitan. And other choice offerings too, such as couscous.
All available at a set price, on an all you eat basis.

Great to visit at the weekends, but it does get busy.
Out door terrace area available too.

5. Charcutaria-francesa

A more up market restaurant offering Portuguese style food but with worldly influences. A small restaurant where the chef comes out and tells you the nights menu - offering a small selection of dishes all at very reasonable prices.
All food is cooked to a very high standard and offers that little bit extra something for a special night out.

Perfect for anniversaries or small groups.
Booking in advance recommended.

6. Estrela da bica (Star of Bica)

Another hidden gem of a restaurant in the heart of Lisbon downtown - and actually hidden off one of the busy night-life streets of Lisbon, Bica.
The place offers a choice of 1 meat or vegetarian dish a night (with fish at the weekends too) - normally a great way to try something new, friends of mine are often impressed by the vegetarian option! - and a selection of tapas style starters and wonderful sweet desserts.

A place to go with close friends before heading out into Lisbon night life.
Booking recommended.
(Cash only).

Travessa do Cabral, 33
Lisbon, 1200-075
00351 213 473 310

7. Pao Pao Queijo Queijo (bread bread cheese cheese)

The ideal place to grab lunch whilst in Belem. This ever popular little eatery has the most extensive sandwich choices I have ever seen!
Either choose the standard baguette style (v.generous helping), or some of the filling options are available in a pitta or salad.
Cater for all, meat, fish and veggie lover.
My personal favourite is the tuna paste or falafel.
All with the option of a side of chips and garlic mayonnaise (I recommend) and drink.

There is normally always a queue, but it does go relatively fast.
Option to sit in with limited seating available outside. Or take away and sit in the park opposite.

Rua Belem, 126
1300 - 086.

8. Pasteis de belem

The world famous cafe, and founding cafe of the Pasteis de nata (custard tarts) - the most signature cake of Portugal.
There is extensive seating inside, with many large expanding rooms.
There is always a queue outside, but this is for the take away service. (A little secret is that you will get served faster if you go in and order a coffee and cake -  and from here you can order as many boxes of the cakes to take away as you like).

Perfect to go with everyone.
Ideal for breakfast with their large variety of other cakes and pastries too (and a few savoury options available). Or as a mid-morning, afternoon coffee stop.


This is not an extensive list, but as I discover newer places I will take note and update the list in the future to add those I think fit.

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