Much of the charm of Lisboa comes from the ever-evolving union of tradition and contemporaneity, of old and new, local and global living together. The city is full of amazing stores that, while maintaining the commerce that keeps the city alive, help remind us of this connection to the past, of its place in portuguese culture, and how important it is to preserve it aiming towards the future.
The best way to taste traditional portuguese cuisine is to go to the houses that have been doing it for decades. They are presented below, along with restaurants of foreign cuisine and one for special occasions. Most of them were not only the obvious choice for lunch or dinner, but also places of discussion, of sharing between customers and employees, a meeting point of workers, writers and intellectuals. Nowadays, these houses still preserve their welcoming atmosphere of old, while serving the best of the portuguese gastronomy. Scattered around the center of the city, the restaurants also give you a tasty reason to wander about discovering Lisboa!
Leão D'Ouro opened at the turn of the XXth century, as a beer shop that later became a restaurant. Nowadays, the wide space of Leão D'Ouro holds a restaurant, a buffet, and a tavern. This is the famous house that served as a meeting point for a notable group of portuguese artists of the time, the 'Grupo do Leão'. It has occasional fado shows and provides fantastic takes on portuguese cuisine.
This historic restaurant has been through both exciting and troubled times along its long decades of existence. Adega Machado started as a restaurant with live Fado performances, with Amália Rodrigues as a regular guest, and since then it has followed that tradition, and been part of the history of Fado, helping maintaining the music alive while offering a great variety of typical portuguese dishes.
Originally a milk shop, A Camponeza opened in 1907. More than a hundred years later, the house is now a restaurant with visible connection to those early days, when Lisboa was as cosmopolitan as it was a rural. Here you can enjoy the typical cuisine, a traditional art-nouveau ambiance, and the beautiful mosaics that tell you of the house's history, and that of the city aswell.
This rustic and intimate restaurant dates back to 1857. If you're up to something different, here you can ask for lunch or diner in a private cabinet, made of ornamented pinewood. It is one of the last restaurants where it is possible to do this, a trend from older times! Estrela da Sé's menu offers portuguese cuisine, and the house is famous for its many specialties.
In the middle of Bairro Alto you will find this cosy house where italy's gastronomy is king. When Casanostra opened, in 1986, it offered dishes unknown to most. It has been here for over 30 years now, and has become a place of gathering, always around a table of peculiar takes on the italian cuisine. It also holds occasional events of different kinds. It is a place to discover!
Open since 1966, Galeto gained a reputation at a time when the Avenidas Novas neighbourhood was developing. It adapted the idea of a 'snack-bar', with extended counters and an ambiance of fast and informal meals, to go along with the modernized pace of the city. Its design alone is worth cheking out! You can pass by for breakfast, lunch and diner, with a menu of varied meals, snacks and drinks.
This is a popular restaurant that has resisted in Príncipe Real for over a hundred years! In Faz Frio, the portuguese cuisine is treated with respect for tradition but also in a creative way. The codfish for example, is cooked differently each day of the week! Fish and seafood dishes are a specialty of the house, which is decorated with wood, drawings of old crafts, paving stone and mosaics, giving a sense of inviting tradition!
The restaurant João do Grão has existed for a long time, which has made possible the proliferation of stories and legends about the first owner's name. If you haven't yet tried codfish in Portugal, this is the place to be! It has been a house specialty since the old days, when it was open 24 hours a day for the local bohemians' enjoyment. Today, it is a traditional house with classic atmosphere and great portuguese meals!
The exquisite Tavares has hold its ground in Chiado for more than an impressive 200 years! During that time it has grown is different ways, and what makes this a peculiar house today is the heavily refined, ornamented walls, ceiling and decor. Everywhere you look, there is gold-leaf painting, mirrors and fine objects and embelishments, making this a prefered location for more of an elite than the average person. But it can be a great choice for a special day!
This cafe and restaurant played, like the other cafes that resisted the times, a significant role in the cultural heritage of Lisboa. Artists and intellectuals of the area would meet here, and one poet in particular: Fernando Pessoa, who would particularly enjoy his absinth. The whole place is adorned with letters, drawings, poems and other references to him. Martinho da Arcada became national heritage in 1982, so you can be sure it is much more than a restaurant!
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.