The familiar delectable scent of melted cheese filled my nostrils as our server dropped another dish off at our table. We were at Taberna Bairro do Avillez in Lisbon having dinner and although we were only three dishes in, Adam and I were already in foodie heaven.
This past September, my boyfriend Adam and I ventured to Portugal to see if it could live up to its social media hype. One thing that took me by surprise was how much Lisbon had to offer beyond the seductive smell of freshly baked Pastel De Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts) and the sizzling sounds of succulent Piri-Piri chicken – two popular food highlights.
Now, it’s not unusual for Adam and I to go all out on food while on vacation and this trip was no different. As a matter of fact, we have the gluttonous habit of following one dinner with another, dubbing the act a ‘bang bang’, LOL! While in Lisbon, not only did we eat at the majority of places on our pre-planned list, but also found a couple new places to add to it along the way. Needless to say, when Adam and I claim to have ‘eaten our way through Lisbon’, we feel the statement is completely justified.
So here we are, one month post-trip and Adam and I are still talking about our favourite dishes. Together, we compiled the ultimate ‘Lisbon Hit List’ of all our favourite restaurants, cafes, take-away counters, and bars so that that next time you find yourself in Lisbon you can dine like you’ve got two hollow legs too!
- Restaurants -
Prior to our trip, I had read a lot about Michelin star chef Jose Avillez. Said to be one of the best chefs in Portugal, dining at one of his restaurants during our time in Lisbon was an absolute no-brainer. Open for lunch and dinner, Taberna Bairro do Avillez, Jose Avillez’s most casual restaurant offers Portuguese cuisine with an Avillez twist! There wasn’t a dish that Adam and I didn’t like and even though we were full, we could not stop eating. My favourite dish was the Alfachinha with crispy cod topped with garlic mayonnaise and a spicy tomato sauce, while Adam favoured the uniqueness of the octopus in a kimchi sauce, with garlic and sweet potato. Overall, this was both our favourite meal and if you are going to go to one place in Lisbon, this is it!
Hands down my favourite DISH of the entire trip was actually a sweet potato gnocchi I had at my hotel’s restaurant. Recently renovated, Blue Restaurant has a chic, relaxed atmosphere inspired by the city’s blue sky and azure waters. Further, the restaurant has the cuttest little pink courtyard where Adam and I chose to enjoy our breakfast daily. Although the menu does change, all items on the menu are made of locally-sourced fresh seasonal ingredients to insure the highest quality of flavours. Like I said, my favourite dish from the ENTIRE TRIP was the gnocchi I had here. I tried to go back for it before I left but unfortunately it is only available on their dinner menu (a heartbreaking realization for me). Regardless, if they ever take it off their menu I will cry! Yes, it’s that good
For those interested in learning more about new age Portuguese cuisine, I would definetly recommend a restaurant called Delfina. Tucked in a corner of Praça do Município, inside the Alma Lusa hotel, Delfina is a fine dining yet casual restaurant that serves up fresh and seasonal Portuguese-inspired cuisine along with a fabulous selection of local wines. Adam and I ate here on our second night and practically had to roll ourselves home. All the seafood dishes we had including the Bulho Pato clams, sautéed clams in garlic, olive oil and coriander; Fettuccini Alla Pescatore with Bulho Pato shrimp, clams, and mussels; and the Codfish A Brash, a traditional codfish dish with frayed matchstick potatoes and egg, were all exquisite and I unapologetically helped myself to the lions share.
If you don’t eat Piri-Piri chicken while in Portugal, did you even really go? Frangasqueira Nacional is a small restaurant with only a couple seats that, if you aren’t specifically looking for it, you would pass right by. Mostly intended for takeout, this small restaurant has an even smaller menu of rice, a few side options and the clear star of the show, spicy Piri-Piri chicken two ways - baked and grilled. Adam and I ordered one of each along with a class of wine and sat at the only table they had outside not talking as we devoured our chicken. We enjoyed our meal here so much that we tried to go back later in our trip, but unfortunately it was closed. This not only checked every box for me when it came to fantastic Piri-Piri experiences, but it was also one of the cheapest meals we had (8€ per person) the entire trip!
A great find by Adam, By The Wine was a cool wine bar we went to in the Chiado area after dinner one night. The atmosphere was lively and both the light from the restaurant and the groups of people sipping glasses of wine poured out onto the sidewalk. The wine list was (as expected) very extensive and reasonably priced, but the thing that caught us by surprise was their large selection of food offerings. After ordering our wine at the counter, Adam and I watched one chef created a large charcuterie board of Iberian Bellota ham and a selection of cheese followed by a small salmon ceviche dish, all the while growing hungry once more. We didn’t order more food that night but we did come back for a proper experience later on in the trip and highly recommend it be on your list of places to try, or at the very least, to pause and enjoy a glass of wine.
- Food Market -
The first place Adam and I checked out while in Lisbon was Time Out Market Lisbon. Essentially a food hall featuring forty of Lisbon’s best restaurants, delis, cafes, and food vendors, Time Out Market is the perfect one-stop shop for those who want a quick overview of Lisbon’s food offerings. Even though each restaurant can only offer a handful of their signature dishes you don’t feel limited in choices. Adam and I loved having the ability to pick and choose from different stalls and customize our own little lunch menu. In terms of drinks, on top of vendors selling a small selection of alcohol there is a wine shop if you want to buy a bottle or a bar in the middle of the food hall for something more specific. Further, if you are looking for a fun activity to do while in town, cooking classes are also available at Time Out Market Lisbon.
-Take Away -
One take-away spot Adam and I quickly became obsessed with was Pizzeria Romana Al Taglio. We had found this small, Roman style pizza shop on our way back downhill from watching the sunset at Castelo De Sao Jorge, and even though we were on our way to dinner, the smell of freshly baked pizza stopped us right in our tracks. “What’s one slice?...” we reasoned with ourselves, “especially if we split it!” And boy did it deliver! With over 10 different styles of pizza to choose from at any given time, all generously dressed with toppings and offering an impeccable combinations of flavours, this little gem hit the spot every time. If you are ever looking for a quick bite, cheap snack or are just craving really good pizza, this place is definitely worth seeking out.
- Pastel De Nata Cafes -
A food guide would not be complete without a couple Pastel De Nata recommendations and prior to the trip, a friend had recommended Adam and I check out Pastelaria Batalha while in Lisbon. Previously they had done a Pastel De Nata baking class there and said their tarts were some of the best. Eager to sign up ourselves, Adam and I ventured there for a coffee and a tart on our first day in town to see if it lived up to its hype – and it did! Not only did I love the cute cafe vibe it had going on but also the warm and approachable nature the owner had despite having clout as offering one of the best Pastel’s in Lisbon. I guess you can say after our baking class I grew attached to this place and its story. I loved learning about the history of these enchanting treats, what characteristics makes a good one, and how to make them at home, which if you ask me is the best souvenir you could bring home!
By the time Adam and I had got around to finally trying Manteigaria (located across the square from Pastelaria Batalha) we had not only eaten our fair share of these delectable desserts, but learned to make them in our baking class. Having walked by the cafe several times during our visit to Lisbon, I vividly remember my desire on the last day to make sure we tried it before heading to the airport. We still had a couple hours before our flight and the small cafe in Chiado was only a 10 minute walk away. So after quickly organizing our things and dropping our luggage at reception, Adam and I ran up the street for one last tart. The place did not disappoint. As a matter of fact I would say it was the best Pastel De Nata I had eaten all trip. Perfectly cooked with a flaky crust that melted in your mouth along with the sweetest, creamiest, custard filling to compliment it. My only regret was not trying this place sooner.
That’s it! If you have any questions or comments about any of my recommendations above please feel free to hit me up in the comments section below, otherwise VAMOS COMER!