Portugal has become the “it” destination for those who love to eat. And the country’s capital, Lisbon, is maybe the hotspot, the icing on the cake in this tiny nation so devoted to food. In the last years, the city has received hordes of hungry visitors willing to search into every corner of its historic neighborhoods for a good meal. And, in fact, Lisbon hides many of them.
But as tourism increases, the local gastronomy scene has been forced to shape and evolve, including great fine dining restaurants – increasingly more frequent in the city. Fine Dining Lovers selected some of them that are worth a trip in order to find out why Lisbon has become one of the best places in the world to eat now.
With a cosmopolitan ambiance, JNcQUOIis a multifunctional space located in the hip Avenida da Liberdade that brings together a grocery store, a fashion store, a book store, and, above all, a trendy restaurant. With a dinosaur skeleton positioned in the middle of the room, and surrounded by a huge wine cellar with a great selection, it serves contemporary food with a Portuguese accent (like in dishes using cod and black pork, for example). Chef António Bóia runs the open kitchen preparing from truffletagliolini to shrimp with red curry sauce. Do not miss the delicious desserts – some made in house and others coming from Parisian pastry shop Ladurée (it’s their very first venue in Lisbon).
One of the best restaurants in the city, Prado has in his chef and owner, the young Antonio Galapito, the key for its current success. Galapito worked a long time with chef Nuno Mendes and he brings an invigorating, young, and actual concept to Lisbon in a restaurant with an informal atmosphere – but with a high-level kitchen. Here, modern techniques are at the customer's service, from the entries (like the natural fermentation bread served with whipped pork fat) to the main dishes, where the vegetables shine – as in the cabbage heart with bell pepper sauce and crunchy buckwheat or the eggplant served with whey and pumpkin seeds. Galapito also masters the art of preparing great fish and seafood, abundant in the city.
The name of the restaurant, that means “crazy” in Spanish, may give you some clues on how chef Alexandre Silva sees his creative kitchen – and showcases his ingenuous dishes. The tasting menu is not exactly separated by moments, since the way the food is served always brings a new experience to the guests – from a bento box to a trolley where a whole brick-like piece of raw tuna from Azores is sliced by the tableside to be served, then glazed with white beans miso. Silva, who won the Portuguese version of Top Chef competition in 2012, embraces the full use of locally sourced ingredients. Located next to the famous Basílica da Estrela, Loco has a modern decór and views of the kitchen – where he and his team work clique crazy.
The restaurant, housed inside a boutique hotel located in an 18th-century mansion, has only one table with 14 seats: the chef's aim is to gather people for a convivial meal, as it would be in a home. Pedro Pena Bastos, one of the representatives of the new generation of the Portuguese cuisine, was also considered the "Chef of L'Avenir", by the International Food Academy.Ceia has only one airy, elegant room to accommodate the guests around the table. The dishes are served in a tasting-menu style and the guests fraternize during the meal, from 13 to 15 courses, which combine fresh and regional ingredients such as pink shrimp with yuzu, grilled oyster with white asparagus and Azores lily with tomato or a dessert made with regional fig, cardamom, and lemongrass.
Owner and chef of a must-visit restaurant in Lisbon, the charmy Taberna da Rua das Flores, André Magalhaes recently took a higher leap. Situated in the first floor of the Hotel Le Consulat, former Consulate of Brazil, and a few blocks away from his first venue, Taberna Fina (Fancy Taven) is his new restaurant, where he seeks to make a more refined cuisine in a sophisticated setting with dark walls and tables with marble countertops. Magalhaes serves a joyfull tasting menu with 8 courses – which includes snacks, amuse bouche, entree, a fish dish and a meat dish, and two desserts with petit fours. The focus remains on the Portuguese and seasonal ingredients - the menu changes constantly. The small room (there’s only 20 seats) keeps the intimate atmosphere – after all, we're still in a tavern.