Are you into your food? Is it the first thing you think of when you wake up and the last thing you think of when you go to sleep? Will you never love anyone like you love food?
Then you will find your oasis in Lisbon, which is a city bursting with places to satisfy your appetite, from the traditional Portuguese eateries, to the modern, progressive and multicultural spots.
Below are a few of my personal favourites, ranging in price and flavour!
Rua da Esperança, 100 (Santos)
This intimate restaurant serves us traditional Portuguese dishes, with a modern twist. Food is presented in a tapas-style and it is designed for sharing. My favourite dishes were the steak sandwich (or ‘Prego’) and the honey-glazed tuna with chunky salt flakes. The menu changes seasonally but the food is always, delicate, well-spiced, plentiful, and affordable.
An adjacent wine bar next door run by the same owners is the perfect place to start the night. You can purchase a delicious bottle in the bar and take it next door to continue with your meal.
The Food Temple
Beco do Jasmim, 18 (Mouraria)
The Food Temple is a popular spot in Mouraria, which really comes to life during the summer months. Gorgeous specially-designed tables are set up outside for customers to eat while perched on street steps next to the restaurant.
The restaurant happens to be vegetarian, with vegan options as well, but that is not a feature of this place which is restrictive for its customers. Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will find dishes here that are comforting, nourishing, and above all delicious.
Here, you can choose to eat tapas-style and share a few smaller plates between yourself and some friends, or buy a larger plate to have all to yourself.
Again, the menu is seasonal and portions are generous. The joint is particularly pocket-friendly – for less than 15 euros you can easily finish the night with a happy tummy and feeling merry with beer.
Av. Almirante Reis, 1 – H (Intendente)
Ramiro’s is an old favourite for Portuguese locals and is renowned to be the best place to eat seafood in the whole of Lisbon. The restaurant has surged in popularity in recent years and every night there are long queues around dinner time. A better option is to go for lunch, when you will still likely queue but not for so long.
The restaurant is no-frills: simply excellent high-quality seafood for a reasonable price.
Rua dos Douradores, 10 (Baixa)
Another vegetarian spot, Tao is the perfect place to go for a cheap and nutritious meal if you find yourself in the centre of the city without any lunch. Tao serves meals buffet-style with a choice of between 3 and 5 different dishes for between around 3.50 euros to 5 euros. Portion sizes are huge and it is not uncommon to have to ask for a takeaway box to munch on the leftovers later on.
Everything is served with a salad and tea. The restaurant has an upstairs where you can enjoy your meal sitting on a cushion on the floor at a low table. A very relaxed vibe.
Estrela da Bica
Travessa do Cabral, 33 (Bica)
Estrela da Bica is a tapas restaurant with a creative and diverse menu. It is busy and be prepared to wait for an hour or so (I recommend going early to put your name down and have a drink at a bar nearby while you wait).
Some of the dishes include salted codfish bruschetta, sticky pork ribs, dim sum, hummus, tuna steak with wasabi mayonnaise, and plenty more. The wine selection is fantastic and sangria is also available.
Try to grab a seat by the window so you can people-watch – Bica is one of the most popular night time area in the city.
Rua Voz do Operário, 60 (Graça)
Damas Bar is a great place to go for lunch, dinner, some tapas, or even just a drink. There is music on most nights that Damas is open and the music can be wildly different depending on which day you visit.
Dishes are mostly Portuguese with a modern garnishes, and include octopus salad (a personal favourite of mine), salted Chouriço, fried fish, and many others. Most can be enjoyed tapas-style, others are bigger and suitable for just one person.
In the summer it can get pretty hot and sticky in Damas, so I recommend going in the cooler months when the lack of air-conditioning is no longer a problem!
Pistola y Corazon
Rua da Boavista (Cais do Sodré)
Fancy Mexican? We’ve got you covered! Head over to this restaurant which is a 5-minute walk from LUSA for arguably the best Mexican food in the city.
At night time, queues are impossible and waiting times are long. But if you go at lunch time it is easy to be served and the meal offers are cheap – you can buy a starter, main and a juice for under 8 euros. The cocktails are also a delicious accompaniment – such as the classic salted margarita.
The servers at Pistola y Corazon are friendly and will gladly guide you on what to order if you are feeling spoilt for choice.
Largo da Graça, 79 (Graça)
Botequim is a spot which liberals, artists and journalists would frequent during the years Portugal was under a dictatorship.
You can definitely pick up on this when you enter into the small cafe, which has a distinctly local feel and a slightly darker vibe. It’s a small space so if you go at dinner time be prepared to be turned away.
It is a very budget friendly spot, with a range of food on offer – from huge vegetarian salads to delicious toasties. For those with a big appetite, the Prego Alentejo is a must – a huge steak and cheese sandwich covered in a creamy sauce – not one for those on a diet!
The seitan salad with cous-cous is delicate, fragrant and sensational. Highly-recommended for vegetarians or those who fancy a more healthy option.
Restaurante Cantinho do Aziz
Rua de São Lourenço, 5 (Mouraria)
This Mozambican is an authentic restaurant which has a large outdoor seating area in the summer and cosy indoor dining in the winter.
Although Mozambique is an ex-Portuguese colony, the food is completely different to that of Portugal. Mild or spicy coconut curries are the defining feature, and there are a large range of vegetarian, fish, meat and seafood dishes. My favourite is the goat or ‘chacuti de cabrito’.
Rua da Ribeira Nova, 36 (Cais do Sodré)
Cafe Tati is right around the corner from LUSA. It’s a cosy and charming place opposite the Time Out Market which is ideal for winter months. Expect comforting food- sweet potatoes, quiche and chocolate desserts. But the best dish is their stunning salmon ceviche, served up with homemade guacamole.
There is often live music playing and the atmosphere can range from relaxed to lively.