The best contemporary taverns in Lisbon
If you have been following our work for a little while, you’ll know that at Taste of Lisboa we love tascas. These are the Portuguese versions of taverns, simple eateries which serve typical food which tends to be quite representative of our local style of home cooking. When you go to good tasca, sometimes also known as tasco or taberna, you know you’ll get to eat well (both in terms of flavor but also quantity!) and at a very decent price.
With the increased gentrification we see in Lisbon, along with the international influences that can increasingly be felt in the local food scene, we have come to observe some changes in Lisbon’s tascas. On one hand, it’s progressively more difficult for old time tabernas to survive in downtown Lisbon, as rental prices have increased so much that locations often end up being taken over by chain restaurants and other franchised businesses. This is why, more and more, we think that to eat well in Lisbon, your best bet is to head to neighborhoods with much more of a local vibe, such as Alvalade, Ajuda or Benfica, just to name a few. On the other hand, if it’s true that there are restaurants that have nothing to do with our dear tascas in terms of business approach nor food, but that still try to sell themselves as tascas or tabernas just for the sake of marketing, it’s also true that Lisbon is experiencing a new wave of contemporary tascas which are doing amazingly well.
The new modern tascas of Lisbon prepare food which is deeply rooted in Portugal’s traditions, but do a wonderful job at also incorporating influences from abroad, as well as personal twists according to the establishment’s resident chefs. These new Portuguese taverns could very well be the future of Portuguese tascas, serving incredible food with local soul, but in a way that appeals not only to local customers, but also international travelers who visit our city and are eager to explore Portuguese food traditions.
Without further ado, these are the best contemporary taverns we recommend for you to visit in Lisbon:
O Velho Eurico
Simply put, o Velho Eurico is one of the most sought-after taverns in Lisbon these days. If you’re in town and want to visit spur of the moment, well, good luck, because unless there is a last-minute cancellation, there’s very little chance you’ll get to try the Portuguese food which is here beautifully crafted by chef Zé Paulo Rocha and his team.
Before the younger generation took over, O Velho Eurico was one of the most well established tascas in the typical neighborhood of Castelo. Former owner Eurico built a loyal customer base, serving traditional dishes from this home region of Portugal, the northern province of Minho, known for its hearty dishes often revolving around pork and salt cod. When Eurico retired in 2018, a young group of cooks, who were relatively fresh out of culinary school, took over. Their goal was to keep serving traditional Portuguese food, honoring the establishment’s long and rich history, but with their own personal spin. This means that the food today at O Velho Eurico is packed with typical Portuguese flavors any local will recognize and appreciate, but there’s more refined technique when preparing the dishes. Think of a straightforward bacalhau à Brás, for example, a dish which consists of a stir fry of shredded salted cod, matchstick fried potatoes, onions and parsley, with beaten eggs as a binder. When chef Zé Paulo Rocha is behind the stove, the balance between all of these ingredients reaches almost ethereal proportions, coming together in one of the moistest and, quite frankly, very best cod dishes in Lisbon. At O Velho Eurico tradition and innovation come together as one… so make sure you make a reservation so that you get to taste what we’re talking about!
📍Largo São Cristóvão nº3, 1100-179 Lisbon
Taberna da Rua das Flores
Taberna da Rua das Flores is a classic Portuguese tavern at heart, but their menu certainly goes beyond what one would expect from a typical local tasca. Chef André Magalhães (aka Mestre André) is one of the most creative chefs in our city, and is constantly coming up with new flavor and texture combinations, to fill the ever changing menu of Taberna da Rua das Flores, which is handwritten daily on a black board which the servers will take to your table to present and explain the dishes of a given day.
Chef André Magalhães’ cooking blends Portuguese tradition with ingredients and techniques from other countries, namely from parts of the world which have historically been linked to Portugal, such as our former colonies. The plethora of interesting tastes and fusion of elements Taberna da Rua das Flores has gotten us used to has certainly put the bar quite high. Luckily though, they keep surprising us with dishes such as caldo verde okonomiyaki, peri-peri rabbit, assorted cured fish assiette, alongside other more typical takes on the Portuguese cooking repertoire. Taberna Rua das Flores never disappoints. If there’s often a line by their door it certainly isn’t because of marketing alone, it truly is because they’re one of the best modern taverns in Lisbon and they serve some unique dishes you won’t find anywhere else.
📍Rua das Flores 103, 1200-194 Lisbon
Call it a gourmet tavern, call it a contemporary tavern, or a tavern with a chef’s signature style. Taberna Albricoque is one of the best addresses in Lisbon to eat modern tasca style food from the southernmost region of Portugal, the Algarve. The cuisine of the Algarve is mostly known for its seafood, as the region sits along the southern coast of our country. This is the area of Portugal where, until today, you can still feel the Moorish influence in Portuguese cuisine the most.
Taberna Albricoque was opened by chef Bertílio Gomes, also known from Chapitô’s restaurant. At his own place, the chef got to cook drawing inspiration from his southern roots, something we quite appreciate, as there aren’t that many Algarve focused restaurants in Lisbon, which is quite a shame as the region has very good food. But because this is a contemporary restaurant nonetheless, they do their own spins on the classics. Here, the usual deep-fried turnover known in Portugal as rissol is filled with cockles instead of the most customary minced meat or prawn bechamel, and the typical salad of marinated carrots known as cenouras à algarvia becomes instead preserved purple carrots with salted olives. If you’d like to try some Algarvian dishes with chef Bertílio Gomes’ elevated twist, we’d recommend the ray fish with garlic sauce or, if you’re most into meats, the chicken with figs, almonds and spinach.
📍Rua Caminhos de Ferro nº98, 1100-395 Lisbon
Ofício Tasco Atípico
It’s in its very name. Ofício is an “atypical tasca”, which may not exactly be conventional in its approach to Portuguese cooking, but that still manages to present the best national flavors we Portuguese know and love. Their menu, developed by chef Hugo Candeias, focuses on reinvented Portuguese dishes and petiscos, which include both cold and hot options.
Ofício’s kitchen approach is traditional, but the atypical side of it comes from some international influences that come about naturally, as Candeias has worked abroad and alongside international chefs. They serve light and fresh dishes like mackerel with lettuce vinaigrette or beef tartare with bone marrow, but also quail with escabeche sauce and chard, or a rich oven rice which is one of their most sought after dishes.
If you visit Ofício, don’t forget to leave some room for dessert. We quite like their take on bolo de bolacha, a typical Portuguese dessert made of piled up Marie biscuits dunked in coffee, in between layers of buttercream, but here also drenched in chocolate ganache. ‘Cause this is the thing about Lisbon’s best modern taverns: they manage to take things that were already good… and make them even better!
📍Rua Nova da Trindade 11k, 1200-301 Lisbon
Neighboring O Velho Eurico, Tasca Baldracca is another of Lisbon’s modern tavern sweethearts. This place is all about good food, good vibes and plenty of drinks. And we say plenty of drinks as Baldracca’s dining room is the kind of place you’ll easily find yourself sitting at for hours, chatting away with friends, as you work your way through the menu of small dishes which are meant to be shared.
Tasca Baldracca was founded by chef Pedro Monteiro, who is also the chef of Fábrica da Musa and a member of the collective NKOTB. The New Kids On The Block, to which chef Zé Paulo Rocha above is also a part, is cooking up a storm in Lisbon’s food scene! They are taking over old taverns or simply opening up new businesses in key locations of the city, and honoring Portuguese cooking while still managing to bring forward the lifeblood and ethos of the newer generation. They are showing how you can do things differently, but without turning your back on what’s been done for generations and which, when we come to think of it, is at the foundation of their own endeavors.
When you go to Tasca Baldracca, chances are you will have a hard time choosing what to order – we know we do! So our honest suggestion would be to invite a group of friends to come along, so that you can get to ask for as many dishes as possible.
📍Rua das Farinhas 1, 1100-177 Lisbon
Taberna Sal Grosso
Taberna Sal Grosso was one of the first modern tascas of Lisbon to make a name for itself. This restaurant is part of this new wave of Lisbon eateries which cook simple Portuguese food, but execute it to, dare we say it, perfection.
Right besides Santa Apolónia’s train station, Taberna Sal Grosso is an unpretentious place, just like a good tasca should be. You come here to eat and drink well, hang out with friends and, as it often happens, make new acquaintances too, if not with fellow diners, at least with the extremely friendly staff which go a long way to make you feel at home.
The menu at Taberna Sal Grosso keeps changing according to what’s available in the market, and the specials are announced on a black board hanging on the wall. On a given day, the board might read duck livers with garlic, softly cooked bone marrow, or salt cod tongues served over green peas mash. It’s a tasca, it’s like back in the good ‘ol days, and this means your bread is served with garlic infused lard and not butter or olive oil. May Taberna Sal Grosso live long, and may their spectacular chocolate mousse with flaky fleur de sel and a drizzle of olive oil remain in the menu for all that time!
📍Calçada do Forte 22, 1100-256 Lisbon
Mestrias Tasca Nova
When we visit the Lisbon neighborhood of Ajuda, we like going for a meal at Mestrias Tasca Nova. Its very name clearly says it, this is a “new tasca”, not because they have recently opened, but because they have a renovated spirit when it comes to doing tasca style cooking and hospitality.
Mestrias ticks a lot of the marks of the new wave of Lisbon’s tascas: it has vintage inspired decor, it serves some classics of Portuguese food, but also includes in the menu petiscos and dishes you would never see in an old school tavern. Metrias is not as inventive as some of the other establishments we are covering here today. It instead focuses on typical dishes and tapas style plates, yet with only a few twists – enough of them to set this restaurant apart from a classic Lisbon tasca though. You can count on popular favorites like scrambled eggs with alheira or farinheira sausages, pica-pau meats with sauce or Bulhão Pato style mushrooms. When it comes to main dishes, their repertoire includes an excellent Brás style salted cod, an irresistible suckling pig confit and, for those into intense flavors and heartier dishes, pork cheeks cooked in red wine until ultra tender, served with blood sausage rice. We’ve said it before and we will say it again: when in Lisbon, go to Ajuda! You will see and experience a local side of the city which is becoming increasingly elusive in more central parts of town and which we trust is quite worth it for the sake of understanding what Portuguese lifestyle is truly all about in our capital city.
📍Largo Paz 22B, 1300-450 Lisbon
We have already highlighted Tasco Force when we wrote about the best restaurants in the neighborhood of Alvalade. The first greatest thing about Tasco Force it’s its welcoming pateo, which you could never guess was there when walking by the main door connected with a busy road. The second best thing is, of course, the Portuguese food which they skilfully prepare and serve with a pleasant smile.
Owner Nuno Garuti is also responsible for the kitchen, where a variety of petiscos and main dishes, mostly with traditional foundation, are prepared. Besides unapologetically Portuguese dishes such as those with salt cod or feijoada, they also serve internationally inspired recipes like squid curry, muamba (Angola’s national dish) or vegetarian moussaka. Most of Tasco Force’s star dishes are indeed smaller servings for sharing, because petiscos is what the eatery does best. Think pork cheeks with coriander sauce, green bean tempura, garlic prawns, breaded and deep-fried octopus filets, scrambled eggs with Iberian black pork farinheira, shredded cod salad, and so much more.
We think Tasco Force is in the limbo between a typical tasca and contemporary tavern, and we quite like that, as we feel it has the best of both worlds and that pleases the general public. This is certainly a cool spot for a get-together with a large group of friends, as it’s bound to please most palates.
📍Rua Acácio de Paiva 5D, 1700-005 Lisbon
Taberna do Mar
In a place with such ingrained sea traditions, it could only make sense to have a modern tasca dedicated to fish – enter, “the sea tavern”, that is, a Taberna do Mar. This eatery in the neighborhood of Graça cooks Portuguese-Japanese fusion cuisine, but even though this sounds nothing like a tasca, they still manage to embrace certain elements of the taberna feel.
There are only a couple of meat based dishes in the menu, as everything else at Taberna do Mar comes from the sea, properly justifying the name of this restaurant. Their mix of Portuguese ingredients with Asian elements is quite ingenious and translates into delightful combinations such as smoked red mullet sashimi, oyster with Azores pineapple, gunkan with razor clams or cockles in Bulhão Pato sauce, and their famed sardine nigiri.
Because of the location right besides Graça’s usually crowded viewpoint, Taberna do Mar tends to have more international customers than locals. But don’t be mistaken, as we could still very much consider this a Portuguese taberna, where delicious little dishes land on your table with tons of umami, but plenty of Portuguese soul too!
📍Calçada da Graça 20 B, 1100-266 Lisboa
Pigmeu is a pork focused restaurant in the Lisbon neighborhood of Campo de Ourique. There is quite probably no other establishment in Lisbon making such good and creative use of pork, which is undoubtedly one of Portugal’s favorite ingredients. Not only does every dish at Pigmeu contain pork in some form, they also have a “nose to tail” low waste approach which we feel very identified with. In the team’s own words, Pigmeu “aims to be a transition space for a more conscious and responsible food consumption”.
Their menu is made up of Alentejano pork meat, pork offal and vegetables in equal proportions. Ethical considerations aside, we find their food truly delicious and we love that Pigmeu’s vibe is indeed that of a tasca, even if a tad more refined – something to honestly be expected considering their location in one of Lisbon’s fanciest neighborhoods. Go to Pigmeu and experience Portuguese pork nibbles like croquetes and pastéis de massa tenra, but also heavier dishes, including some in their most recent menu inspired by the food traditions of Bairrada, Portugal’s most notable destination to eat spit-roasted suckling pig.
📍Rua 4 de Infantaria 68, 1350-274 Lisbon
This restaurant, not to be mistaken with another eatery by the same name in Av. Elias Garcia or even Petisqueira Pica-Pau in Praça Paiva Couceiro, takes its name from the typical Portuguese serving of pan-fried meat with sauce, pica-pau. The name literally translates as woodpecker, as this is a petisco you’re supposed to eat with a toothpick, going back and forth for more.
Being a tavern, even though quite modern, they serve traditional Portuguese cooking, including robust dishes such as lagareiro style octopus, feijoada beans and meats stew, açorda savory bread porridge from the Alentejo, roasted goatling, and so much more. To have a sharing meal with friends as you work your way through a bottle of wine, we recommend ordering a range of small plates, so that you can try a little bit of ”everything”: salted cod fritters, cheese and charcuterie boards and, because it would also be heretic to come here and overlook this, some pica-pau too! The food at Restaurante Pica-Pau stays quite true to the original Portuguese recipes, but what makes it more of a contemporary establishment is the setting, the decor and the platting, which makes this old time Portuguese dishes stand out, in a particularly appealing way for those who might not have been familiarized with them before.
📍Rua da Escola Politécnica 27, 1200-244 Lisbon
Zezinho Disco Tasca
Associating the word “disco” to tasca certainly sounds intriguing, but this more recent tasca in Lisbon certainly makes it a point to stand out from the rest of the city’s contemporary taverns, by including a 70s inspired atmosphere as part of their concept.
The decor at Zezinho Disco Tasca is super funky but, surprisingly, remains interestingly Portuguese. Those who grew up in the country might notice some decorative elements which can easily remind us of our grandparents’ places or even our childhood homes. In our books, this is positive, as good food is very often associated with nostalgia. Zezinho likes to serve cocktails, something which doesn’t tend to happen in old school tascas, but also wines which they carefully select, so that they are not the typical ones you can easily find elsewhere. Food wise, the dishes at Zezinho Disco Tasca are some of the classics from around the country. They have smaller nibbles such as fritters with alheira, or assorted vegetables tempura, but also heartier recipes such as salt cod dishes, oven roasted duck rice, slow cooked mutton, and even an option for vegetarians, of grilled pointed cabbage with sauce. This is a must for those who want to taste typical Portuguese food in a unique, colorful and very fun setting!
📍Rua da Esperança 25 1200-658 Lisbon
This is the least Portuguese of all tascas mentioned here but we feel that Tasca Pete, even though it is not all about local food, does a wonderful job at embracing the spirit of a tasca. Owned by Peter Templeton, from London, Tasca Pete is now where the old neighborhood cafe of Penha de França, Nova Esperança, used to be. Not much has changed since Pete took over the space, as lots of the down-to-earth decor remains, thus contributing to this restaurant feeling like a proper homely tasca. So much so that even the menu is handwritten on a paper towel and hung by the wall, like in the most practical of Portuguese eateries. Still, Tasca Pete certainly belongs in the contemporary tavern category, not only because of its atmosphere and vibes, but also because of the items which make it to the menu.
Tasca Pete’s menu includes both permanent dishes and specials which keep the kitchen team’s creativity flowing. Think of non traditional Portuguese recipes, yet with very good use of some local ingredients. Snapper with radishes, lasagna with mushrooms and Portuguese goat cheese, or fried chicken with jalapeños and pickles. As Pete stresses, they’re all about using fairly common ingredients but in rather unusual combinations which, if you ask us, work very well, and are delicious along their selection of natural wines, with lots of Portuguese labels, but not exclusively Portuguese brands.
📍Rua Angelina Vidal 24A, 1170-113 Lisbon
If, like us, you are hungry to explore Lisbon’s food scene, let us know via Instagram if you need further tips – we’d love to welcome you in our city, show you around and, of course, go grab some delicious bites and drinks together! Tag us: @tasteoflisboa #tasteoflisboa
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