One of the things I look forward to the most on any trip is the food, and Lisbon totally exceeded all of my culinary expectations.
You’ll already know that a better meal can usually be had in less touristy areas, but from my experience it’s the smallest and most unassuming eateries in Lisbon that boast the biggest flavours.
Here are some of my favourite restaurants (and more) in Lisbon, and some of the dishes you should not miss.
Canto da Vila
Located in the old part of the city, this charming restaurant in Alfama has a small number of tables inside and out on the street. Serving a combination of Portuguese, Mediterranean and Brazilian dishes, I loved their upmarket food, reasonable prices, and friendly, family restaurant-style service.
Their ‘gambas picantes’ starter is one of the tastiest dishes I’ve ever had – a bowl of fresh prawns in a lightly spiced, tomato, garlic and whiskey sauce, perfect for dipping in pieces of warm, crusty bread. So good I was tempted to have it again for my main.
Altogether, we ordered a starter, main and drink each which came to €42.
Note: their outdoor seating is set alongside another restaurant, so make sure you go to the right place!
Time Out Mercado da Ribeira
I absolutely love a good food market, and I wish I’d had the time to go back to this one.
Some of the city’s best-loved names in food and drink can be found here, cooking up everything from local classics to modern dishes, indulgent desserts to gourmet burgers, fresh fruit smoothies to fresh seafood, and so much more.
The amazing smell coming from each kitchen changes as you walk around the hall, meaning you can almost follow your nose to find your perfect meal.
I’d recommend taking a look at all the stalls first before making your choice, but be prepared to feel food envy anyway as you might just fancy something from every vendor.
I came here at lunch and the place was bustling with diners, meaning finding seats can be difficult, but linger for long enough and you’ll be fine.
Prices vary, but €10 will get you a main meal from most stalls.
Taberna da Rua das Flores
Tucked away on a quiet street in Bairro Alto, you won’t find this tiny, dimly lit restaurant unless you’re looking for it – but find it, and you’ll have some of the best Portuguese tapas ever.
Their changing menu is written only in Portuguese on blackboards, but waitresses will talk you through each option to help you decide. They recommend sharing three dishes between two, and each one we had was exceptional.
Our first dish in particular was out of this world – fresh tender scallops wrapped in smokey bacon, served with wasabi mayonnaise that had the perfect spicy kick, and topped with toasted sesame seeds.
With bread and olives, three tapas dishes, one dessert and two refreshing homemade lemonades, our bill came to just under €50.
Book in advance if you can, as there was already an 1.5 hour wait on tables by the time we ordered.
Pastéis de Belém
Custard tarts are an icon in Lisbon, meaning you’ll find them everywhere. But to taste the original and arguably best, you’ll need to head to Belém.
Founded in 1837, this famous cafe-bakery makes thousands of ‘pasteis de natas’ everyday which is loved by both locals and tourists alike.
Priced at only €1.05 each, the freshly baked tarts have a soft and gooey middle that’s delicately sweet, and wrapped in thin layers of crispy pastry with sachets of icing sugar and cinnamon to top.
You can enjoy them at a table inside the large cafe which gets busy quick, or I’d recommend crossing the street to the quiet park by the river.
This was recommended to me by a local in Cascais, and after trying it once we ended up going whenever we found it next.
Selling over a dozen flavours of gelato, I’d highly recommend trying their delicious fruit flavours – of which the honeydew melon and mango were my favourites.
Queues tend to be long but go down quickly, with a medium pot of three flavours costing €3.90.
da Prata 52
For stylish tapas dishes in central Lisbon check out da Prata 52, a wine bar and restaurant located on a main street in Baixa-Chiado. I loved their simple but flavourful sautéed mushrooms, and codfish and olive bruschetta.
Tables are limited, so book ahead if you can.
Four tapas dishes, bread, drinks and a shared dessert came to €45.
Solar 31 da Calçada
Walk up a small lane in Rossio and around the corner of the steep hill is where you’ll find this family owned, fresh seafood restaurant.
The co-owner came to each table to explain that they want all their customers to leave happy, so if you don’t like anything you order, just tell them and they’ll gladly make you something else.
We ordered their slightly more adventurous and very popular dish to share – a whole octopus which is grilled to perfection with a lightly spiced, olive oil sauce.
While we ate, we saw the owner chatting to other diners and proudly showing off his fresh fish from the kitchen, adding nicely to the restaurant’s overall friendly atmosphere.
Our bread and olives, octopus, dessert and two drinks came to a very reasonable €35.
Long loved by locals, this tiny shop in Rossio is the traditional home of ginja, a famous Portuguese sour cherry liqueur.
Inside, a man behind a counter sells nothing but shots of the drink, with your only choice being with or without the fruit it’s infused in.
For €1.40 each, come here after dinner for a strong, short drink which will instantly warm your insides as the temperature falls after sunset.
What’s your favourite restaurant in Lisbon?
More ideas for your Lisbon trip: