Cheap. Cheerful. Hella tasty.
When I visited Lisbon last year, I stayed with my family and only allowed myself a glimpse of Portuguese cuisine. This time round, however, I made a list of restaurants, cafés and bars I wanted us to experience and was very happy with the results. Below are my Top 5 Places that I recommend you eat in when visiting Lisbon, Cascais and Carcavelos. I hope this better convinces you to visit the Portuguese capital!
CATCH UP ON MY HOLIDAY DIARY AND GUIDE TO LISBON
1. Restaurante Pica Pica
It’s funny that the first restaurant we visited was my favourite overall! Having made plans to visit Cascais, I did a little research of the best restaurants in the town and Restaurante Pica Pica was at the top of that list. We headed into Cascais after midday for a spot of lunch before exploring the town and found the restaurant with ease, tucked away within the busy restaurant district.
Excited to try the traditional Portuguese cuisine, we ordered the Mista de Tapas (Sharing Platter for 2) and a litre of Red Wine Sangria. When the platter arrived, it really was a spectacle of food, smelled beautiful and was definitely a generous portion. The platter featured cut up octopus with a spiced aïoli, chorizo, potato & fish croquettes, Gambas in garlic, Parma ham & melon, rosemary potatoes, shrimp fish cakes, goats cheese crostini, frittata, Portuguese black pudding, and what I can only describe as “lasagna crostini”.
This was our first meal out in Lisbon, and oh it really does makes me want to come back very soon. The food was just sublime! It was a great way of introducing ourselves to the country’s delicacies, I was surprised at myself for liking the octopus dish though I may need to give the black pudding a second chance. The service was very friendly, with staff seeming genuinely caring and great with the customers. We also enjoyed the litre of red wine sangria, which was delicious.
Visit Restaurante Pica Pica, Rua Visconde Da Luz, Cascais 2750-415, Portugal // Call +351 21 808 4308
2. Restaurante San Telmo
Having moved into our Airbnb apartment in the Santos area, I checked the neighbourhood for excellent restaurants and stumbled upon Restaurante Sant Telmo. This was our first dinner out in Lisbon, an intriguing little restaurant that had a small menu with no starters. The vibe within was very cool and collected, with groups ranging from English and French tourists, to young locals and families too.
As mentioned the menu is small and though there are no starters, the restaurant does provide breads and bits which are complimentary. This is such a plus to an experience, as you may find in many restaurants in Lisbon they charge extra for this, (even when you don’t order this, and the particular restaurant doesn’t event tell you). We were given a tasty cheese & cold ham board with fresh sourdough bread, olives and garlic butter carrots. A lovely and light start to the meal, accompanied by our chosen white wine.
I ordered the Atum Fresco Grelhado (Grilled Tuna Steak) as my main course, while Lorna opted for the Grilled Golden Sea Bream. My tuna steak was delicious, well-flavoured with subtle spices and perfectly cooked, served with vegetables, a sweet potato side and slices of avocado. Altogether, the elements really complimented one another and every bite was just delicious! I also tasted the sea bream, which was beautiful. Light, flaky and full of fresh flavours, this dish was excellent – and Lorna is still raving about it!
For dessert we shared the Berry Crème Brûlée, a light and creamy delight with subtly sweet berries atop! The service here was slow, however they did explain that they were one chef down due to illness, but otherwise the staff was very welcoming and attentive.
Visit Restaurante San Telmo, Rue do Poço dos Negros 188, Lisbon // Website // call +351 21 192 8360
3. Taberna at Bairro de Avillez
I had heard great things about Bairro de Avillez, an establishment with the city that boasts four restaurants under one roof! Chef José Avillez is the mastermind behind it all, and is considered one of the great references of gastronomy in Portugal. We had attempted to have dinner here on a Saturday night (without a booking, doh!), but were lucky to nab a late lunch at Taberna the next day instead.
The menu has a variety of charcuterie and cheese from the Mercearia segment, as well as tapas of which we enjoyed lunch from. Both Lorna and I opted for the Alfacinha (Lettuce Wrap) with Crispy Cod, which I was very intrigued about, as well as the Aged Beef Picanha with Taberna French Fries and the Lettuce Heart Grilled on Coals with Pear Salad.
To start, the Alfacinha lettuce wrap was out of this world! The cod had a crisp, light batter, topped with olives, a garlic mayonnaise, tomato salsa, miniature crispy fries, and wrapped in a lettuce leaf. From the flavours to the presentation, this was a delicious little dish.
The aged beef were cooked medium, sprinkled with sea salt and was lovely. Its accompanying French Fries were topped with a kimchi-style sauce and smoked garlic cream. The salad was acidic but sweet and complimented the beef well, and was itself a new combination I’d not tried before. The interior design is quite funky here, and with its food full of flavour, texture and friendly service, I can understand why this is one of Lisbon’s favourite restaurants.
Visit Taberna at Bairro de Avillez, Rue Nova da Trindade 18, Lisbon 1200-466 // Website // Call +351 215 830 290
4. The B Temple
Lorna and I fancied a grill kind of dinner and on my list was The B Temple, and boy was I happy it was! This restaurant specialises in burgers and steak using only 100% Black Angus Beef and had quite a rustic, cool vibe to it, reminding me of Holy Smoke down in Cork. This Saturday night was very busy in Lisbon, and though we had no reservation for the restaurant, to our delight we were given a table within five minutes.
The menu has a lot of temptations in both departments, as well as salads and desserts for later. I ordered the Pregos Melty (Steak Burger), or sandwich, alongside a gin cocktail and sweet potato fries. The steaks were cooked beautifully, my toppings of mushrooms, caramelised onions in Port Wine, cress and tomatoes with cheddar cheese were all complimentary, the brioche bun was light and nicely toasted, and the fries were a nice addition too.
I was truly stuffed after this dinner, and during our dinner we also noticed other orders that seemed to be drenched in a mouth-watering cheese sauce with a fried egg on top, while the chocolate cake dessert was made to be shared. The service was friendly and the atmosphere was quite casual, I did feel slightly out-of-place in my fancy dress and makeup…
Visit The B Temple, Rue Serpa Pinto 10, Lisbon 1200-445 // Website // Call +351 21 407 9398
5. Hooters Beach Bar Carcavelos
After a few hours chilling out, we headed up to the Hooters Beach Bar at Praia de Carcavelos, which was impressive with its big menu that specialises in Portuguese seafood and burgers. When you dine at Hooters, you usually don’t expect much. However this is not linked to the American franchise at all (though I don’t know how they get away with the name!), but is a wicked beach bar to enjoy bites in between sunbathing and swimming.
I opted for the Peppercorn Sauce Burger, which was smothered in peppercorn sauce with cheese on top and served with a fresh salad and crispy fries. It was quite the massive burger, one that I advise to eat with a knife & fork! The sauce was peppery, though I would’ve loved an extra kick, and the accompaniments were well suited. All in all this was an enjoyable spot of lunch, with tasty burgers and red wine sangria that enhanced lunch overlooking the ocean.
Visit Hooters Beach Bar, Praia de Carcavelos
Images © Nirina Plunkett