10 Lisbon-based young chefs you should know
The future of Lisbon’s food scene is in their hands. We’re talking about young chefs who are making a name for themselves alongside well-established chefs which are at the forefront of Portuguese dining – think, for example, José Avillez (Belcanto, Cantinho do Avillez, Bairro do Avillez), or Henrique Sá Pessoa (Alma).
Some of them embrace their roots, mixing them with influences from abroad. Some others are well rooted in traditional Portuguese cooking and are able to blend those principles with more contemporary techniques. We also have pastry chefs who have been bold enough to start a restaurant which forsakes what most people would consider a main meal and instead focuses on desserts.
Of course there are other notable chefs with projects all over Portugal but, today, we focus on Lisbon’s rising culinary stars. These are, in no particular order, the best young chefs you should know when you travel to Lisbon:
You’d very rarely see a list of highlighted chefs headed by a pastry chef, but we’re not your average publication. So, to begin our list of best chefs in Lisbon today, we’d love to talk about Ana Raminhos, pastry chef and owner of Raminhos Desserts. This restaurant serves a couple of savory options but its main focus is sweet dishes, as the name clearly implies.
After working as a pastry chef in other restaurants in Portugal (Os Gazeteiros, Lisbon) and abroad (Ron Gastrobar, Amsterdam), Ana Raminhos started preparing her own desserts sharing a small space with Micropadaria, where the focal point of her work was reinventing and elevating cakes you’d normally find at a Portuguese pastelaria. Soon enough she outgrew the space and the concept and so she went on to open her new store in the neighborhood of Campo de Ourique, where Raminhos can now finally express her delicious vision via not only cakes but essentially plated desserts which bring together unexpected elements that not only work very well on the palate, but also highlight products individually, including but not limited to some locally sourced goods.
Ana Raminhos dared to do what no one had ever done in Lisbon before: open a desserts restaurant, which is to be differentiated from a bakery or pastry shop, as this is the kind of place you indeed sit down to have a proper gastronomic experience, paired with wine or a carefully curated selection of teas. The list of desserts Raminhos crafts keeps changing, and includes surprising flavor combinations such as black tea, grapefruit and cinnamon; strawberries and black sesame; or dark chocolate, nori and dill. Creativity, vision, sensibility, balance of flavors and textures is something Raminhos’ desserts surely deliver. All with just the right amount of sweetness.
🍴 Raminhos Desserts
📍Rua Pereira e Sousa 53B, 1350-236 Lisbon
Zé Paulo Rocha
O Velho Eurico is one of Lisbon’s classic taverns, aka a tasca. Now-a-das, chef Zé Paulo Rocha happens to be responsible for the magic that happens inside the kitchen of this eatery near the city’s castle. It’s very rare to see an old-school establishment such as O Velho Eurico run by someone so young as Zé Paulo Rocha (only 21 years old at the time!) who didn’t hesitate to take the business when Eurico, the original founder and owner of the then known Eurico Casa de Pasto, retired in 2018.
The aesthetics might have changed when Rocha and his colleagues took over, but the essence of O Velho Eurico remained, focusing on traditional Portuguese cooking done right. Zé Paulo Rocha’s cuisine is traditional but elevated when it comes to technique. He respects the flavors which one has come to expect of some of Portugal’s most iconic comfort dishes, yet is able to improve upon them thanks to his capacity and skills. As such, it’s easy for classical Portuguese minds to be satisfied when they taste Rocha’s food, which can simultaneously make discerning diners (even those not particularly familiar with Portuguese food yet) happy.
Chef Zé Paulo Rocha is also a part of the culinary collective NKOTB, which stands for New Kids On The Block, and which brings together a variety of young chefs with a lot of attitude (think punk’s DIY approach, but inside the kitchen). Every now and then, namely during the pandemic, the kids got together to make truly wonderful food. And so we have come to expect no less from them and from Zé Paulo Rocha – a chef who we will definitely keep an eye on as he’s still so young and promising.
🍴 O Velho Eurico
📍Largo São Cristóvão nº3, 1100-179 Lisbon
Marta Caldeirão & André Coelho
This young duo of chefs is responsible for the gastronomic experiences offered at Âmago, a restaurant in Lisbon with one table only. The concept has up to ten guests sitting around the same table for a remarkable Chef’s Table Experience.
Chefs Marta Caldeirão and André Coelho are in love with the intimacy that this kind of setup provides: they are able to cook, plate, serve and talk about what they have prepared with their guests, a step that is of crucial importance for them as professionals of food and experiences. Curiously, both chefs have backgrounds which have nothing to do with the culinary world. Marta studied biology and André translation. But, at a certain point, they decided to follow their passion for the kitchen and both decided to study cooking and eventually landed their first job in a kitchen at Altis Belém Hotel, where they met.
We’re in love with the concept of Âmago which tends to end up gathering around the same table Lisbon locals and travelers who, dish after dish, break the ice and end up sharing experiences. There’s only one tasting menu with ten different moments and Marta Caldeirão and André Coelho do everything. The items on the tasting menu keep changing as Âmago’s cuisine is seasonal. You can clearly see that the chefs are inspired by comfort food but they’d always add their own unexpected twist. Think of creations such as polenta, stewed mushrooms and roquefort cheese; scallops with strawberries and mustard: or asparagus, apple, tarragon and barley. The synergy of Marta Caldeirão and André Coelho isn’t something that comes by everyday, and so it should be appreciated and tasted mindfully.
📍Rua da Alegria 41C, 1250-182 Lisbon
Even though Vítor Adão cooks in Lisbon, he comes from the northern mountainous region of Trás-os-Montes, specifically from the city of Chaves. The chef’s roots and culinary heritage are well present in his cuisine and we appreciate and admire how he can translate all of those influences into a more elevated dining context.
Prior to leading his own kitchen, Adão worked with some of Portugal’s greatest chefs, including Ljubomir Stanisic at 100 Maneiras, and Rui Paula, who owns several reputed establishments in Porto. Since 2019 he’s been responsible for cooking with fire at Plano, a restaurant in the neighborhood of Graça focusing on local and seasonal products. At Plano they “believe in the perfection of small things, small producers, crooked vegetables, the almost forgotten ingredients”, including some coming from Trás-os-Montes.
Plano serves tasting menus meant to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, even more so during the warmer months when you can sit outdoors and enjoy the lovely patio of the restaurant. But, for those who seek (or would rather pay for) a more uncomplicated experience, Adão has more recently opened his second restaurant, Planto, in the heart of the city. Planto serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, everyday from early until 1AM, and this may be a more accessible way of tasting the chef’s cooking, even if it’s for the sake of a first contact before you get to make it to Plano. Even though the menu at Planto is more eclectic and decidedly international, chef Vítor Adão still makes it a point to highlight national products of excellent, such as the Barrosã DPO beef used for the burgers, or sweet potatoes from Aljezur, for their starter of mixed tubers chips. After all, the essence of Vítor Adão seems to be to take ingredients with Portuguese DNA, transform them and delight us with them.
📍Rua da Bela Vista à Graça 126, 1170-055 Lisbon
📍Rua da Boavista 69A, 1200-066 Lisbon
Juliana Penteado crafts the most delicious, delicate and visually stunning pastries at her pastry shop which has taken her name: Juliana Penteado Pastry (former Barü.Ba Pastry).
Juliana Penteado comes from Brazil, but settled in Lisbon after having studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and worked in London. She worked at 100 Maneiras by chef Ljubomir Stanisic here in Lisbon, prior to opening her own space, entirely dedicated to sweet creations. Of course a lot of work, dedication and research went into all of this. For instance, Penteado did a trip from north to south of Portugal, to discover our regional pastries and cakes, and thus gather inspiration for her own desserts.
At Juliana Penteado Pastry you’ll find stunning pastries, cakes and biscuits which vary every week (you can check her weekly specials on Instagram), with one particularity in common: they are flavored with essential oils. In Portugal, considering the very pronounced sweet tooth of locals, there seems to always be room for one more pastry shop. But, amongst the many pastelarias Lisbon has to offer, Penteado’s sweets surely stand out as marvelous creations which even your eyes get to sample before you take the first bite. So dreamy!
🍴 Juliana Penteado Pastry
📍Calçada da Estrela 5, 1200-661 Lisbon
Alana Mostachio is the chef at VDB Bistronomie, a fairly recent farm-to-table restaurant in Lisbon. Chef Alana comes from Brazil and, even though she has a background in Nutrition, she soon discovered that the kitchen is where she could make her magic happen. Since 2016 she’s been in Portugal cooking and, more recently, leading the kitchen team at VDB Gastronomie and firmly developing an extraordinary reputation in our city’s dining scene.
Fermentation is one Mostachio’s strong points, after having studied fermentation techniques at the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastián, Spain, just prior to joining VDB. But pickles and ferments are just some of the prepared in-house wonders you’ll get to taste by the hands of Alana Mostachio. VDB Bistronomie follows a farm-to-table philosophy deeply rooted in sustainable principles and, with the skill of Mostachio and her team, products from Portugal’s national organic agriculture are able to be transformed into delicious creations, which highlight and thus respect the products and those who worked so hard for us to be able to have access to them.
Lisbon’s dining scene needs more women like chef Alana Mostachio, showing diners that, in a world heavily dominated by males, women can also do remarkable food, with a clearly defined concept, with flavor and lots of personality! We’re looking forward to following along Mostachio’s evolution and, of course, we’re always ready to taste her fresh and tasty dishes.
🍴 VDB Bistronomie
📍Rua Canastras 8, 1100-112 Lisbon
Taking over Michelin star Feitoria after the immense legacy of chef João Rodrigues (also responsible for Projecto Matéria which showcases the best farmers and producers from our country perhaps like no one has ever done) is no small feat, but André Cruz did just that in 2022, after having worked at this restaurant at the Altis Belém Hotel & Spa since 2009 and clearly earning his position as chef de cuisine. For this, and because of the overall quality of his work, he is one of the most promising chefs in Portugal!
André Cruz studied in Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo do Estoril and arrived at Feitoria’s kitchen fresh out of culinary school at just 21 years. Feitoria was his second and biggest school, a learning experience that, alongside João Rodrigues, translated into technique, creativity and boundless imagination. In fact, during 2014, Cruz decided to take a break from his cooking career in Portugal to go travel and expand his horizons (culinary and otherwise) in South America. It was across the Atlantic where he had the chance to spend some time in the kitchen of Gustu in Bolívia, and Boragó in Chile, experiences which contributed to shaping the chef’s vision upon his return to Portugal and, once again, to Feitoria’s kitchen.
At Feitoria you can taste Cruz’s food via a few options of tasting menu, including a vegetarian one, with the aim of highlighting “the quality and seasonality of the products, whenever possible with certified organic products from small producers, where the balance between the use of animal and vegetable protein is maintained”.
📍Altis Belém Hotel & Spa, Doca do Bom Sucesso, 1400-038 Lisbon
Despite his young age, chef Luís Gaspar has a remarkable curriculum and keeps on launching new projects both as chef de cuisine and consulting chef. He’s in charge of Sala de Corte, one of Lisbon’s best steakhouses, opened Pica-Pau, a traditional portuguese restaurant inspired by the kitchen of legendary portuguese chef Maria de Lourdes Modesto, and more recently launched Brilhante, a restaurant whose menu reinterprets Lisbon’s culinary history. We’re not sure how the chef manages to have time for it, but he’s also a consulting chef for Plateform, “a hospitality group with 100% Portuguese DNA”.
In 2015, he started leading the kitchen of Sala de Corte (a heaven on earth in Lisbon for meat lovers), and just two years after he was already making the headlines being elected as “Cook of the Year” and “Best Promising Chef of Portugal”. Those who selected Gaspar weren’t wrong, as it’s been non-stop for the chef ever since, and we can smell many more great things to come.
At Pica-Pau, chef Luís Gaspar’s work is all about promoting and preserving Portugal’s gastronomic and cultural heritage. This is where he embraces tradition the most, following as closely as possible some of the most classic recipes of the Portuguese repertoire (think açorda with prawns, oven-roasted goatling Minho style or chicken cabidela rice, just to name a few), and serving food at fair and accessible prices.
At bohemian Brilhante, you ought to knock on the door prior to entering the restaurant, just like it used to happen in Lisbon back in the day. In fact, there are several things which aren’t exactly done like back in the 60s and 70s, but certainly inspired in a time gone by. Come here to taste Luís Gaspar’s take on Lisbon classics such as Marrare style beef steak (here called bife à Brilhante), but also to sample how he blends Portuguese and French cuisines in this restaurant’s unique atmosphere.
🍴 Sala de Corte
📍Praça Dom Luís I 7, 1200-148 Lisbon
🍴Restaurante Pica Pau
📍Rua da Escola Politécnica 27, 1200-244 Lisbon
📍Rua Moeda 1H, 1200-275 Lisbon
Pedro Pena Bastos
Four years ago we wrote about chef Pedro Pena Bastos, when he was responsible for the dining experience at Ceia, a restaurant where, similarly to Âmago above, all guests would gather around one table. Since then, Pedro Pena Bastos has gathered prominence, after receiving his first Michelin star and, more recently, as a judge on TV show Masterchef Portugal.
Even though the list of accomplishments of Pedro Pena Bastos is indeed amazingly long, the chef is still quite young and so we feel he’ll keep on surprising us and, above all, contributing greatly to the increased appreciation for Portuguese cuisine and our national products. After leading the kitchen of Herdade do Esporão in the Alentejo, and Ceia in Lisbon, chef Pena Bastos is now running the kitchen of Cura at the Four Seasons Ritz Hotel in Lisbon, where he “selects his ingredients to create dishes of great depth, taste and meaning.” This is how Pedro Pena Bastos’ food has always been: incredibly sophisticated yet approachable, highlighting the best products (and producers) which our country has, following the flow of seasons with a certain sense of naturality.
At Cura you can enjoy three different tasting menus, including a fully vegetarian one named Raízes (Portuguese for roots), a very clever name that speaks not only of the ingredients used but also of the actual roots of a type of plant oriented cuisine which was more prevalent in Portugal across history, before meat became more readily available. Of course our forefathers weren’t eating the kind of dishes served at Cura, but the essence of taking ingredients from the land, respecting them and transforming them into delicious and nutritious creations could be compared, even if the contexts are wildly different.
If you like chef Pedro Pena Bastos’ cooking, you can keep coming back to Cura, where the menus keep changing according to the seasonality of ingredients. We can’t wait to see what Pena Bastos comes up with next. But considering the young age of this chef and the fact that everything he touches turns into (edible) gold, we know it’s going to be good.
📍Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca 88, 1070-051 Lisbon
In 2023 we were all taken by surprise when Encanto, a fully vegetarian fine dining experience in Lisbon, won its first Michelin star. Even though Encanto is officially “the enchanted plant world by José Avillez”, we know that when it comes to everyday cooking and running of the kitchen, the uber popular chef can’t be present, as he has several other restaurants, both in Portugal and abroad. And this is how chef Diogo Formiga enters the picture, as the executive chef of Encanto and someone whose talent we’ve been closely looking at and admiring.
Like many Portuguese cooks, including some we’re highlighting here today, such as Marta Caldeirão and André Coelho above, Formiga studied at the Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo which is the national school of hospitality and tourism, in his case in the Porto location. Before delving into the world of vegetables alongside Avillez, Formiga was a prep and line cook in other restaurants with omnivorous menus.
At Encanto, Diogo Formiga is the resident chef and might be conditioned to Avillez’s menu but we think it is right to give credit where credit is due and believe what arrives to your table wouldn’t be the same without the execution and oversight of Formiga. Furthermore, considering the eclectic experience the chef has been gathering prior to joining the world of vegetarian fine dining, which includes restaurants in hotels, opening the first ever cevicheria in Porto, and launching OhMyDog! (a chain of hot dogs with way above the average dogs, with several shops across Porto), we can only foresee great things to come from the also enchanted world of Diogo Formiga.
📍Largo de São Carlos 10, 1200-410 Lisbon
We don’t know what the future of Lisbon’s dining scene holds but if there’s one thing that we’re pretty sure of is that some of the names above will certainly be around for a while to be part of it.
Have you had the chance to visit the restaurants we mentioned above and try the creations of some of these young chefs? We’d love to hear about your experiences via Instagram and see your photos too – please tag us @tasteoflisboa #tasteoflisboa
Feed your curiosity on Portuguese food culture:
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