Best restaurants to eat contemporary Portuguese food in Lisbon
Lisbon is famous for its history, unique architecture, incredible light and a rich gastronomic and wine scene.
Think about Portuguese food and chances are dishes like salted cod, grilled sardines, meats stew or pastel de nata come to mind. These are indeed some of the most iconic recipes you can taste in Lisbon, but the Portuguese capital is bursting with tempting options for those hungry to explore a more contemporary and worldly side of Portuguese cuisine.
Just like it happens in several other southern European countries, for instance Italy, Portuguese are generally quite classical when it comes to their typical dishes. Something as captivating for a visitor like a Portuguese custard tart featuring a new flavor, like it so often happens across Asia, for example, wouldn’t probably excite most locals.
But in spite of this classical mindset, Portugal is experiencing a new wave of enthusiastic new chefs that have taken it up as their mission to not only reinvent traditional Portuguese recipes, but to also create new modern dishes that are in their essence truly local. These incredible contemporary Portuguese chefs don’t shy away from international influences, yet still valuing most of what’s local and generally in season.
If you’re curious to explore a more modern side of Portugal’s cuisine, we recommend some of the best restaurants for contemporary Portuguese food in Lisbon!
Modern interpretations of traditional Portuguese food
Cantinho do Avillez
José Avillez is, no more no less, than Portugal’s most famous chef and restaurateur. Avillez’s ever growing empire comprises about twenty restaurants, including Tasca in Dubai. If your budget doesn’t allow you to experience Belcanto (see below), Avillez’s fine dining restaurant with two Michelin stars, Cantinho do Avillez would certainly make for a more approachable experience. Here you’ll find dishes clearly based in traditional Portuguese recipes, with hints that have been inspired by the chef’s travels around the world. This is easy-going contemporary Portuguese food at its best, featuring dishes easy to recognize but with unique touches. Think about scarlet shrimp from the Algarve with a Thai sauce, or tuna tartare from the Azores with an Asian marinade. At Cantinho do Avillez, the world all of a sudden feels smaller, but way more appetizing!
Two locations in Lisbon:
📍Rua dos Duques de Bragança 7, 1200-162 Lisbon (Chiado)
📍Rua Bojador 55, 1990-048 Lisbon (Parque das Nações)
Contemporary petiscos may be a given at faz Frio, but this tavern has been around since 1872. It is even protected under the Lojas com História (meaning “shops with history”) scheme by the local government, that means to highlight businesses that are a fundamental part of the city’s history. But of course Faz Frio has known how to keep up with the times, becoming a well established eatery in Lisbon’s food scene until today. This is a must go-to for locals, but that will often go unnoticed for tourists. The tiled decoration exudes a classical vibe, and while the names of the dishes sound like they go along with that, they do feature little twists that set them apart from the more mainstream restaurants serving traditional Portuguese food. The menu keeps changing based on the availability of seasonal ingredients, but if you’re lucky enough to see Arroz Naval, their take on seafood rice, on the menu, we’d say go for it!
📍Rua Dom Pedro V 96, 1250-092, 1250-094 Lisbon (Principe Real)
Fancy a food trip around Portugal without leaving Lisbon? Simply reserve a table at Lés-a-Lés. At this fairly recent restaurant in Campo Pequeno the food is unpretentious and honestly good. Lés-a-Lés’ ambition is to represent the variety of Portugal’s food scene, which they aim to present via two options of tasting menus, with eight and eighteen dishes each. Ordering a la carte is also an option, but if your pockets allow, we truly do recommend the more complete tasting menu. Start with flavors from the Algarve, tasting a lemony cuttlefish xerém (corn flour and seafood porridge), sample the interior of Portugal with a cabidela rice (loose risotto with chicken blood and meat) from the Beiras region, and reach the northern Portuguese province of Trás-os-Montes where cured sausages flavor their traditional dish feijoada (bean and meats stew). The dessert menu is also a compilation of some of the best sweets you can come across the country. If you’re not going to have the chance to travel around Portugal, do visit Lés-a-Lés while in Lisbon to know what our country tastes like.
📍Campo Pequeno, 1000-082 Lisbon (Campo Pequeno)
At O Frade you’ll find an excellent representation of food from the Alentejo region, with a contemporary touch. At this small corner restaurant you dine sitting at the counter. The atmosphere is intimate yet casual, and you get to see what happens “behind the scenes”, right in front of you! The praised home-style cooking from the Alentejo is presented here in a more upscale way, without losing its essence. If you visit with more people, order several petiscos to share before you dig in a main dish like duck rice. O Frade’s extensive choice of wine includes vinho da talha, a wine that is made out of a blend of red and white grapes and which is produced inside large earthenware amphorae, just like it used to back in Roman times.
📍Calçada da Ajuda 14, 1300-598 Lisbon (Belém)
Osso Bento is all about reinvented Portuguese dishes. This restaurant’s name translates as “holy bone” and speaks of the importance that meat has on the menu around here. But the concept it’s not just about enjoying the prime cuts of meat. Instead, it’s about cooking and eating meat sustainably, doing justice to the slow food philosophy the team at Osso Bento believes in. Besides meat dishes, Osso Bento’s menu also includes their interpretations of classic Portuguese staples such as salted cod (try their cod Assis style!) and even an interesting vegetarian option so that everyone has something to choose from. Chef Mateus Freire’s dishes are kept company by a carefully curated wine list that features in its vast majority Portuguese brands from a little all over the country.
📍Rua Correia Garção 15, 1200-640 Lisbon (São Bento)
O Velho Eurico
O Velho Eurico calls itself “old” (that’s what velho literally means) but we’d like to think that it’s young in spirit. This self proclaimed tavern was owned by a man named Eurico until back in 2018, serving traditional Portuguese food. When Eurico retired, a group of young cooks took over this eatery and turned things around. Now the focus is still in typical Portuguese food, but with a younger imaginative flair. A printed menu has been replaced by a board where the special’s keep changing based on availability of ingredients and the chefs’ creative streak. Let us mention preparations such as bacalhau à Brás or a perfectly creamy and crusty leite creme (Portugal’s version of crème brûlée) to ensure your mouth starts watering. Zé Paulo Rocha and Fábio Algarvio are the main names behind the new O Velho Eurico, but they often share the kitchen with visiting cooks that have gathered in a collective that goes by the name of New Kids On The Block (NKOTB). Old and new come together at O Velho Eurico, in the shape of dishes that would make several generations of Portuguese proud and frankly happy!
📍Largo São Cristóvão 3 e 4, 1100-513 Lisbon (Mouraria)
A classic of Lisbon’s food scene that would hardly disappoint regular or new comers! One of Lisbon’s most iconic restaurants, it has been around for over 35 years years. Born in Bairro Alto and now housed in the upper floor of Time Out Market, Pap’Açôrda is the kind of restaurant you should visit to taste an incredible representation of what Portuguese food is all about. Chef Manuela Brandão has been behind the stove for over 33 years and is one of the most influential female chefs in Lisbon, even though she often escapes the limelight that shines bright upon other celebrity chefs. We are thankful to Chef Manuela for her açordas (traditional bread stews), crab pie and the legendary chocolate mousse. Beautiful Portuguese flavors in a contemporary setting – you will probably want to visit more than once to have the chance to sample more petiscos!
📍Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479 Lisbon (Cais do Sodré, inside Time Out Market)
Taberna Sal Grosso
In recent years, taverns are making a comeback in Lisbon. The scene that was once dominated by old school establishments serving predictable dishes and drinks, is now renovated with newer eateries such as Taberna Sal Grosso. The down to earth spirit of a tavern is kept, but the dishes and wines that come to your table are more inventive, make good use of local ingredients and speak louder of the vision of those behind the stove. Taberna Sal Grosso cooks such an array of petiscos inspired by traditional Portuguese recipes that it can be a little hard to choose. If possible, come here with friends so that you can take a variety of small plates to share. Beyond easier sounding names to the international crowd, like cod fritters or braised Azorean tuna, you will see preparations that put the tavern seal on Sal Grosso. Think of braised pork cheeks, cod tongues salad and even a rice pudding spiked with pork blood, or dessert.
📍Calçada do Forte 22, 1100-256 Lisbon (Santa Apolónia)
Tasca da Esquina
Modern cuisine with roots in traditional Portuguese cooking is what you come to this eatery in the neighborhood of Campo de Ourique for. Tasca da Esquina was created by celebrity chef Vítor Sobral, one of the key players in the reinvention of Portuguese gastronomy in recent years. The restaurant is famous for petiscos, that is, small servings of food, ideal for sharing. You can opt for a tasting menu with these small platters, which will put your mouth in good hands – the Chef’s hands! Besides the lovely food, Tasca da Esquina’s wine list is quite extensive and features plenty of choices of wine by the glass.
📍Rua Domingos Sequeira 41C, 1350-119 Lisbon (Campo de Ourique)
Chef Marlene Vieira is one of the most acclaimed female chefs in Portugal and Zunzum Gastrobar is her most recent endeavor. If you’re exploring Lisbon’s food scene it’s quite likely that you would have noticed Marlene Vieira’s Food Corner inside the Time Out Market. To deepen yourself in her cooking style, we recommend going beyond the popular food hall and heading to the new cruise ship terminal where Zunzum is located. In the chef’s own words, here you’ll find “trendy cuisine, with Portuguese flavors and techniques from around the world”. If you’re familiar with corn dogs from the USA and would be curious about what a Portuguese version with prawns and cuttlefish would taste like, Zunzum is the place for it!
📍Cruise Terminal, Av. Infante D. Henrique Doca Doca, R. Jardim do Tabaco, 1100-651 Lisbon (Santa Apolónia)
Contemporary Portuguese food
We have to say it: Chef Hugo Brito is one of the most creative chefs in Lisbon. His outside-the-box mindset is behind the ever-changing menu of Boi Cavalo, which the restaurant’s own team describes as “contemporary Portuguese cuisine, influenced by the gastronomic tradition of the city of Lisbon and the communities that inhabit it.” The cuisine of Boi Cavalo is upscale and inventive, and has little to do with what one would typically associate with the neighborhood the restaurant is in, Alfama. The food and drink choice is limited but extremely thoughtful and, even then, chances are you’ll have a hard time selecting what to order. Trust the team. No matter what happens when you visit Boi Cavalo, it will for sure be quite an experience.
📍Rua do Vigário 70B, 1100-616 Lisbon (Alfama)
Ofício – Tasco Atípico
Chef Hugo Candeias is behind Ofício’s new menu, a place that sells itself as an “atypical tasca”. Unlike your typical tasca, here the decor is carefully thought through and the ambiance is bright and inviting. The savory menu is divided into cold and hot options, with tempting dishes like mussels in escabeche sauce, beef tartare with marrowbone and oven baked ray fish. Petiscos such as the seafood vegetable taco, with crisp iceberg lettuce in place of a tortilla, may not sound like the most Portuguese thing ever, but the flavors you’ll experience at Ofício are decidedly local. It’s just that they’re a little atypical!
📍 Rua Nova da Trindade 11k, 1200-301 Lisbon (Chiado)
Plano is an unexpected oasis in the tightly packed neighborhood of Graça. Here Chef Vítor Adão combines the Portuguese kitchen with fire, with emphasis in the cooking style of the northern region of Trás-os-Montes where the chef is from. Plano is particularly pleasant during warmer months, where you can enjoy your meal in the garden and feel even more connected with the elements. The dishes at Plano may be dressed in a contemporary attire but have a traditional soul. One of the most popular foods at Plano is cabeça de xara, a cold terrine made with the tender insides of pig’s head, which is left to ferment over five days.
📍 Rua da Bela Vista à Graça 126, 1170-055 Lisbon (Graça)
Talking about Portuguese contemporary food in Lisbon is synonymous with talking about Chef António Galapito. Galapito’s farm-to-table restaurant is aptly named “meadow” and it’s so committed to stay in touch with the cycles of nature that, in the chef’s own words, “if it’s not in season, it’s not on the table.” Prado has taken traditional Portuguese ingredients and elevated them to a new modern and more internationally appealing level. The products are allowed to speak for themselves, but the combination of ingredients is also stunning: think of smoked Iberico pork lardo on toast with florina apple to get things started, smoked eel with almonds and cantaloupe, or mushroom ice-cream with caramel sauce and barley for dessert. After Prado’s rise to fame, the team also opened Prado Mercearia, a specialized grocery store that “celebrates the best things Portugal has to offer”. Just like at the restaurant, here you’ll find a selection of Portuguese natural, organic and biodynamic wines, as well as dishes and desserts.
📍 Tv. Pedras Negras 2, 1100-404 Lisbon (Sé)
Chef Shay Ola reinvents the Portuguese ideia of churrasco, that is, the national style of BBQ. Don’t expect to find your usual piri-piri chicken when you come to Queimado. According to Chef Ola, here the dishes are “prettier and more elegant, but flavor is still above it all”. Doing justice to its name, “burnt”, every single dish at Queimado is cooked over charcoal. Besides fish and prime cuts of meat, that are plated with creative ingredients you’d be hard pressed to find in a traditional Portuguese restaurant, you can also opt for produce heavy options such as grilled mushrooms with pearl barley, coal roasted salsify with preserved lemons, blistered green beans with mint or the roasted sweet potato with smoked creme fraiche and blood sausage.
📍 Rua da Madalena 195, 1100-204 Lisbon (Bairro Alto)
Taberna do Calhau
Just like Sal Grosso above or Taberna da Rua das Flores coming up next, Taberna do Calhau does not follow the norm on what a Portuguese tavern would normally be all about. If it’s true that a certain essence is kept, focusing on great food, wine and conviviality, at Taberna do Calhau things get a little more refined. Chef Leopoldo Calhau bought the decor of an old tavern in Beja and recreated a space that breathes all things Alentejo, in the very heart of Lisbon’s Mouraria neighborhood. Appropriately, the menu focuses on flavors from the Alentejo, but not exclusively. Next to a gaspacho from Alentejo, you’ll find original soups like prawn and lupin bean tapenade. One of the star dishes at Calhau’s is “Alentejaninha”, featuring grilled pork cheek with Francesinha sauce. Very Portuguese, yet with one foot rooted in traditional and the other one in Chef Calhau’s ever wandering spirit.
📍 Largo das Olarias 23, 1100-376 Lisbon (Mouraria)
Taberna da Rua das Flores
Speaking of contemporary tradition of Lisbon’s food scene is talking about Taberna da Rua das Flores. André Magalhães is the mastermind behind one of Lisbon’s most coveted modern taverns. From the entrance, where hungry locals and travelers tend to gather hoping for a spot, this restaurant almost looks like a whole in the world. And the beauty is that, through this hole, you can see a lot of Portugal and still take a peek into the wider world. The menu at Taberna da Rua das Flores keeps changing and it is presented by the servers on a blackboard, like seen above. It aims at highlighting Portuguese ingredients with seasonings and cooking techniques influenced by Magalhães’ trips, particularly to countries where the Portuguese have historically had a presence at.
📍 Rua das Flores 103, 1200-194 Lisbon (Chiado)
Portuguese fine dining
Alma is one of Chef Henrique Sá Pessoa’s addresses in Lisbon. Not only this restaurant with soul has two Michelin stars as of 2021, it is also featured by 50 Best Discovery that highlights some of the greatest restaurants around the world. Alma’s open kitchen allows you to see Chef Sá Pessoa and his team in action, as they prepare food best enjoyed when you choose the tasting menu. The cooking philosophy here is rooted in traditional Portuguese cuisine, expanded by the chef’s travels and love for Asia. Signature Portuguese dishes like Bacalhau à Brás are reinvented at Alma, where the mix of shredded cod, potatoes and eggs is covered by a cod and black olive carpaccio made to look like the Portuguese cobblestones that adorn Lisbon’s most popular plazas and sidewalks.
📍 Rua Anchieta 15, 1200-224 Lisbon (Chiado)
Just like Alma above, Belcanto has two Michelin stars and it comes in position #42 in the ranking of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. This is the most celebrated restaurant by José Avillez, one of Portugal’s most renowned chefs, which is openly proud of his achievements not just because of himself, but also because he hopes awards such as these “may help Portugal to strengthen its position as a tourist and gastronomic destination of excellence and give even more emphasis to Portuguese gastronomy”. Located in the charming square of São Carlos in Chiado, Belcanto welcomes a lucky few for what is, hands down, one of the richest Portuguese gastronomic journeys one can experience. Belcanto’s menu has been carefully curated to highlight the best Portuguese ingredients, prepared with skilled technique and creativity. Balancing themselves between the classical and the new, the dishes featured in the tasting menu options have put Belcanto so in vogue.
📍 Rua Serpa Pinto 10A, 1200-026 Lisbon (Chiado)
Pedro Pena Bastos is one of the most exciting new chefs of contemporary Portuguese food. After leading the kitchen of Herdade do Esporão in the Alentejo, and later on of the intimate Ceia in Lisbon, the chef is now responsible for Cura, at the Four Seasons Hotel. As the name elegantly implies, Cura is all about curating the best Portuguese products, here carefully prepared by Pena Bastos and the team that has been working with him since Ceia days. Apart from showcasing beautiful ingredients from all across Portugal, including the islands, Pena Bastos has done something not a lot of fine dining restaurants in Lisbon have done yet, and that is to also include a vegetarian tasting menu. So if the set menu Meia-Cura or the most complete Origens with meats and seafood aren’t your thing, Raizes vegetarian menu will present you with a traditional experience, using only native flora.
📍 Four Seasons Hotel, Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca 88, 1070-051 Lisbon (Parque Eduardo XVI)
Feitoria by the applauded Chef João Rodrigues serves edible works of art. This has gained the restaurant in Lisbon’s Belém district a Michelin star. Even though it does so in a fancy setting, Feitoria’s goal is to bring its diners closer to the origins of food and to the people who produce it. The Chef’s efforts to connect with producers all over the country has led him to develop Projecto Matéria where farmers, fishermen, and producers from all over the country are featured. The ingredients from these carefully selected producers make it to the tables of Feitoria, after being transformed through Chef João Rodrigues’ high end cooking.
📍 Altis Belém Hotel & Spa, Doca do Bom Sucesso, 1400-038 Lisbon (Belém)
If you ever decide to do a road map of Lisbon’s Portuguese restaurants with Michelin stars, along with Alma, Belcanto and Feitoria mentioned above, you should also include Loco. At this restaurant in the Estrela district of Lisbon, celebrity chef Alexandre Silva presens dishes that are prepared with ingredients sourced from local suppliers and, as much as possible, are seasonal and organic. Silva’s cuisine is elevated but exudes portugality. Loco is a must for gastronomes exploring the more modern side of Portuguese cuisine.
📍 Rua Navegantes nº53-B, 1200-731 Lisbon (Estrela)
In praise of Portuguese products
Can The Can
More than a restaurant at a privileged location, Lisbon’s Commerce Square, Can The Can is doing a true revolution that tastes fishy. But in a good way! The menu features dishes that burst with Mediterranean flavors but, beyond the recipes themselves, what stands out at Can The Can are the products developed by the team led by Chef Miguel Laffan. Cured fish such as tuna pastrami, croaker bottarga or lily fish head terrine, known in Portuguese as xara, are incredible for tasting with Portuguese wine. And then there’s the star of the show, garum lusitano, a fermented fish sauce that was produced back in the days of the Roman occupation in the Iberian Peninsula, over 2000 years ago. This pungent sauce is used to condiment dishes at the restaurant, and can also be purchased on site or via Can The Can’s online shop for your own cooking experiments.
📍 Praça do Comércio 82 83, 1100-148 Lisbon (Downtown)
Following the slogan “great products from small producers”, the team of Comida Independente travels all over the entire Portuguese territory, bringing together under one roof some of the best edible things that are done in our country, with special emphasis in wine, cheese, meats and bread. This is a place where the production that happens in Portugal’s countryside makes it into the city, while holding its head real high. Comida Independente houses a deli and wine store, but also offers limited seating to enjoy a bite, a glass of wine or local craft beer on location. If you’re hungry, explore the Portuguese world of regional cheeses and meats or ask straight for the house’s most sought after item, the pastrami sandwich on brioche.
📍 Rua Cais do Tojo 28, 1200-649 Lisbon (Santos)
More experimental than traditional, Lisbon’s contemporary food scene is waiting to be tasted for those who dare to expand their preconceived ideas of what Portuguese food is all about.
Have you been lucky enough to dine at one of the restaurants featured above? We’ll love to see your photo shoots, to know about your insights, questions, suggestions and wishes on your food & culture experiences in Lisbon and Portugal. Tell us about your experiences via Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Don’t forget to tag us: @tasteoflisboa or #tasteoflisboa.
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