Lisbon, Portugal is the undiscovered jewel. Under the city’s grittiness lies a foodie paradise. Keep two rules in mind: First, skip the touristy places. Second, if there are a lot of locals there…you probably want to go there.
In this post I will not be covering all the fancy places like Belcampo. Those you can find with an easy google search. Here, you will discover those bits of sparkle that make Lisbon such a great food destination, and sample all of what Lisbon has to offer.
Stanislav Avenida: Avenida da Liberdade Neighborhood – Who would have thought that one of our favorite restaurants in Lisbon would be Russian. The restaurant is larger than it appears with an ample dining room in the back. The front room is cozy and the decor is Ruso-Portuguese. We visited this restaurant three times. Service was impeccable and the food was a delight. You must get the Borscht, it was probably the best I’ve ever had (especially at 4€). If you get lucky, you will go to the restaurant when they have live music. And if you are brave, their vodka selection is quite good.
Located at: Rua São José 182 – 1150 Lisbon, Portugal 21-353-0140
Hours of Operation: Mon – Sat: 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm, 7:30 pm – 11:30 pm
Need to Know: Does not take credit cards.
Jesus é Goês: Avenida da Liberdade Neighborhood – Amazing Goan food. Where is Goa you ask? In India, but this is a very special area in India. It was a province of Portugal, this means that the aesthetic of the food is Indo-Portuguese. The restaurant is named after it’s chef, Jesus. When you go to the restaurant, you will surely meet him as he is extremely hands on. He is one of those chefs that comes to your table, and by the time he is done….you’ve invited him over for dinner. Most importantly, the food here is superb. Make sure to get the fish curry 14€.
Located at: Rua de São José, 23 – 1150-321 Lisbon, Portugal 21-154-5812
Hours of Operation: Mon – Sat: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
Need to Know: Cash Only. Make reservations. This restaurant is popular and tiny.
A Cantina das Freiras: Baixa/Chiado/Cais do Sodre Neighborhoods – Ok, this is probably the best tip you’re getting here and I am going to kick myself for telling you. The “nun’s canteen” is ran by the Associação Católica Internacional ao Serviço da Juventude Feminina – ACISJF. ACISJF. You won’t find it on your own, so when you turn onto the street, just ask someone to point you to the door. And wear comfortable shoes as you will have to go up four flights of stairs to get there. It will be sooooo worth it. This restaurant runs cafeteria style. You get on line, grab a tray, and get whatever the dish of the day is. Dishes include items like calamari, chicken kebabs, gazpacho, caldo verde, etc… The portions are HUGE, so if you go, make sure you have a small breakfast. Oh, lastly they have probably the best view in the city, so make sure to show up early and get a seat outside. How much will all this cost you? 6.50€. If you don’t go, you’re a fool….we went 4 times in 4 weeks.
Located at: Travessa do Ferragial nº1 – 1200 Lisbon, Portugal – 21-324-0910
Hours of Operation: Mon – Fri: 11:30am – 3pm
Need to Know: Cash only. Get there early to claim the best seats.
Tarta-ria: Cais do Sodre Neighborhood: This was by far my favorite restaurant at the Mercado da Ribeira (another place you should not miss). If you did not figure it out yet, this place does tartares…but what you need to know is that they make amazing tartares. Each month, they hand pick a guest chef to come in and design a tartare for them. I loved the tartare so much that I visited this restaurant twice in one week. The guest chef when we went was Peter Knogl (2 Michelin stars, 18 Gault Millau points). While this is a more “expensive” restaurant, the cost is well worth it since the ingredients, service, and flavors way over deliver. Go here so you can eat Michelin quality food for 1/4 of the cost.
Located at: Avenida 24 Julho, 50 – 1200-479 Lisbon, Portugal
Hours of Operation:
Lunch: Monday – Sunday, as of 12:00pm
Dinner: Sunday – Wednesday, until midnight
Dinner: Thursday – Saturday, until 02:00am
Need to Know: Since it is located at the Mercado da Ribeira, this place gets packed on weekends. Head there on a Tuesday or Wednesday so you can find good tables.
Leitaria Aviz: Mouraria Neighborhood: They have no website or Facebook page. Which is great! This is a great sample of one of those hole in the walls that Lisboa is known for. It feels like someone took their home and converted it into a restaurant. The food is the best of traditional Portuguese and it is cheap – dirt cheap. It’s like 20€ for two people (WITH BOOZE). Mostly, you will see men there for lunch with their friends and no tourist – so make sure you behave nicely when you go.
Located at: Rua das olarias 2, 218-860-471
Hours: Not really sure, but go for lunch.
Need to Know: Bring cash.