Food is a huge part of Portuguese culture. And we're not talking about any food. I mean delicious, super yummy food, that even when you try it for the first time and it's something new for you, you still feel that special "grandma's meals" kind of flavour. To be honest, before moving to Portugal, I wasn't really appreciating the food. Of course, I had my favourite meals back home, but I was never a foodie at least. But it all changed and now I have to be careful how much I eat AND spend a lot of time at the gym, to be able to appreciate all the deliciousness of the country I chose to live in. And it's not just the Portuguese food. International cuisine is also very well represented, specially in the capital. So here comes a small restaurants & bars guide, that includes all tested, approved and favourite spots in Lisbon's downtown area, called Baixa. Old "lisboetas" say it starts from Rossio square and goes down to Terreiro do Paço (Praça de Comércio), but in this guide might be included some restaurants outside this tiny circle, however still close to it.
Breakfast & Brunch
Casinha Boutique Cafe, Kaffehaus, Padaria Portuguesa and Tartine are all located in the same area - next to the Baixa Chiado metro station. Brunch is offered mostly in weekends but even during the week, all of these restaurants offer delicious breakfast options.
Heim Cafe is another great spot for a yummy brunch or snack, but it's a bit outside the so called Baixa area (in the neighbourhood of Santos).
No trip to any destination is complete without trying the local delicacies. For Portuguese people it's all about beef and codfish. Apparently, they have 365 recipes for codfish. Yep, one for each day of the year. When it comes to meat and beef in particular, the Portuguese islands of Azores are well known not only for the breathtaking nature landscapes, but also for their "happy cows" which are very appreciated for the high quality of the meat.
The chain Portugalia is widely spread around the capital, but there's one very well located next to the train station Cais do Sodré. It also has a nice and chill terrace overlooking the Tagus river.
Pharmacia restaurant is located in the beautiful building of the Museum of Pharmacy, next to Santa Catarina's terrace overlooking the city. Its interior is particularly interesting, so highly recommend it. Its garden is the perfect spot to enjoy a fresh drink during for the warm, spring/autumn afternoons.
Time Out Market is very close to Portugalia - just cross the 24 de Julho Avenue. The old and beautiful building of the Ribeira (in translation "riverside") market was recently renovated and today it offers not only fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers. It also has a big dining area where most of the city's best known restaurants are represented. It's perfect for a quick bite or bigger groups where everyone wants to taste different food.
If you're into something more fancy then try Sacramento and/or Salgadeiras. The first one is located in an old building with very wide, stone walls and besides the high quality food, offers romantic atmosphere. Salgadeiras's ambience is similar, but is located at the old and charming neighbourhood of Bairro Alto (the "High Neighbourhood"). At night (mostly Friday and Saturday) its tiny streets are full of people and almost every door is a bar selling (not only) giant, delicious cocktails (try "Morangoshka black" - a cocktail made of strawberries and black vodka). What is special for this restaurant however, is its "trilogy" of codfish - an award-winning version of some of Portugal's most famous recipes for preparing codfish.
Sea Me, as the name refers, offers local, fresh fish and sea food (not only; it also serves sushi) - a delicious experience for sure.
As a diversity-friendly city, Lisbon offers all kind of international food. Name it and you will find it somewhere, for sure. Here is a list of some of my personal favourite spots I love to visit over and over again:
Boa Bao - a delicious trip to Asia, right in the heart of Lisbon. You might have to wait though, as they don't accept reservations, but it would be worth it, I promise you. Or go earlier - around 7-7:30 pm.
Casanova - a delicious Italian restaurant by the river, in front of Santa Apolonia train station. It's perfect for lunch or dining outdoors in one of those pleasant summer nights.
Jamie's Italian - yes, Jamie Oliver's restaurant in Lisbon is a total must. And not only because of the famous chef's name. It is delicious. As well as the sangria.
Las Ficheras - this is, without a doubt, my favourite Mexican restaurant. Don't miss the Tuna Tartar and of course, the Margaritas.
Royale Cafe - not a big menu, but delicious fusion cuisine. It has a little bit of every corner of the world, however their beats hummus and codfish are the reason I never get tired of going back. Also, the small patio in the back is open all year round (with heaters) and is a great escape of the bustling, city life.
Segundo Muelle - just behind the Time Out Market (which could also be listed in this category as well, as it offers plenty of food options) is this relatively new Peruvian restaurant. Very well decorated, yummy food and great wine selection.
Sushima - at a tiny street, next to Largo de Camões, there is this small sushi restaurant.
Terra - most delicious vegetarian restaurant I've ever been. Serves both lunch and dinner (buffet) and has an amazing and very chill back yard, right next to the busy square of Principe Real.
Rooftops & Bars
Hotel Mundial Rooftop - as the name says, it's located on top of the Mundial Hotel, next to Martim Moniz square. That particular area might not be the finest, however, it has a great cultural diversity. The rooftop itself, in my opinion, offers one of the most spectacular views of the city.
Le Consulat - located in the building of former's Brazil Consulate, this bar offers great views overlooking Largo de Camões, elegant interior and well presented cocktails. Definitely a must-check-out in my opinion.
Palacio do Chiado - a former palace, built in 1781, it's a great spot for after dinner drinks in some chilly weather (Lisbon's night life happens directly on the streets which in summer time is very nice, but for the chilly, winter nights I personally prefer a closed-in and cozy spot)
Pensão Amor - it's more of a disco-type of bar (closes at 2am though). The interiors represent a vintage brothel, with an erotic library and a DJ-lady who might actually be older than your grandmother. It's unique for sure. But it's really nice, too.
Park - a rooftop bar, located on top of a parking lot. Smart. And convenient (but don't drink and drive). Offers nice sunset views and even serves dinner options as well.
Silk - if you're looking for a fancy and less crowded rooftop experience, this is your place. Make sure you book it before head though - the terrace is quite small and you should be on the guest list to enter the building.
Topo Chiado - this one is relatively new and soon became one of my favourite spots for a drink or even for a delicious dinner. Located just next to the beautiful, iron structure of the Santa Justa elevator, whatever you opt for, you won't be disappointed in any way. Tip: check their calendar in advance - sometimes they also perform an open-air cinema.
I'm not one to take pictures of my food (I'd much rather appreciate its flavour), but I do enjoy to snap delicious cocktails in a beautiful surroundings.
I hope you've enjoyed this little guide, but most importantly I wish you enjoy more the suggested spots and meals.
Oh, and in the comments below, let me know which one was your personal favourite and why. Have a tasty stay in Lisbon!
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