Menus for midnight — Lisbon's favourite late-night restaurants
By Paul Bernhardt
Lisbon Local Expert
Lisbon wakes up after dark and there are plenty of late-night restaurants catering for hungry insomniacs. In a city renowned for its nightlife, an evening out means eating out, and there’s an appetising choice of midnight menus to tempt the seriously wide-awake. The delicious steaks at La Paparrucha in Príncipe Real are served with memorable (night time) views of the capital. Taberma Moderna, at the other end of the city in Santa Apolónia, wins with its gin bar ambiance and intimate, shoebox terrace. Galeto, a funky 60’s diner near Saldanha district, rustles up tasty comfort food into the small hours. For fine river views and an illuminated suspension bridge, bag a deck table at 5 Oceanos at lively dockside Santo Amaro. Late-night revellers also converge on Pedro e o Lobo, a trendy eatery snuggled up in Principe Real renowned for its affordable haute cuisine. Some of Lisbon’s best seafood is prepared at Ribadouro – a favourite city-centre haunt for theatregoers seeking post-show sustenance. Larger groups should seek the spotlight inside Kais, an unusual restaurant converted from a warehouse situated near Cais do Sodré that looks quite beautiful in the dark. The nearby Portugalia also overlooks the river and enjoys a loyal clientele. Another favourite with the Portuguese is Cervejaria Trindade in Chiado, which is always busy after midnight. And tucked away in Lisbon’s oldest quarter is Alfama is Santo António de Alfama. Half the fun is finding it in the dark amongst the winding streets and narrow alleys.
10 Santo António de Alfama
A beautiful courtyard overhung with twisting vines embroidered with spotlight fronts this delightful tasca. The cosy interior with its chunky wooden tables and vaulted ceiling is festooned with portraits of Hollywood's finest. Traditional Portuguese gastronomy has a starring role here, with dishes like grilled bream sprinkled with aromatic herbs, and tuna steak in ginger taking the lead. Support acts include an array of fresh crunchy salads, various pasta plates and mouth-watering desserts -- try the banana fritter in a chocolate sauce. On warm summer nights the illuminated terrace is a real scene-stealer, and tables are snapped up quicker than you can shout, "Cut". (+351 21 888 1328)
9 Cervejaria Trindade
A cherished culinary institution and a noted cultural landmark, this cavernous beer hall and restaurant enjoy an illustrious history. The building stands on the site of a former monastery, later a brewery. The beer is no longer made on the premises but it's still served with gusto along with a delicious selection of traditional Portuguese fare. Several rooms -- the atrium, dining hall, and the Maria Keil room -- are set under vaulted ceilings and decorated with outstanding azulejo (tile) panels depicting Masonic-inspired mosaics of exceptional craftsmanship. Dishes like tasty octopus salad and an amazing variety of shellfish options enhance the dining experience. So too the tender juicy steaks that are prepared using secret recipes handed down over generations. A range of Portuguese beers, including the restaurant's own special brew, plus international lagers, complement a select wine list. (+351 21 342 3506)
This smart riverfront eatery belongs to a national chain of restaurants beloved by the Portuguese. Specialising in fresh fish and seafood but also serving succulent meat dishes, The Cais do Sodr� venue faces the river not far from Alc�ntara and is known for its shellfish specialities such as "Espinho" shrimp from Portugal's northern shores, grilled tiger shrimp and mantis shrimp, with crab, king crab, lobster and spiny lobster. The seafood platters house specialities. The roasted cod with jacket potato is a popular and healthy dish. Portugalia is noted for its range of beers and ales, and there's a great wine list too. A children's menu keeps youngsters happy. (+352 21 342 2138)
Fashioned out of the shell of a former 19th-century engine warehouse, this cavernous restaurant in one of the landmark features on the docks mid-way between Cais do Sodr� and Alc�ntara. There's an industrial quality to the interior, with the design drawing on the building's history. The menu is international haute cuisine and features dishes like asparagus risotto, deep-water rose shrimps in champagne sauce, and grilled Iberian black pork tenderloin. The arm-long wine list is impressive, with Portuguese labels at the fore. Kais is particularly suited to large groups, but for smaller parties go downstairs to the rustic-styled Adega do Kais, where grilled meats are the speciality. (+351 21 393 2930)
One of Lisbon's premier fish and seafood restaurants, Ribadouro has been around since 1947. The menu lists a veritable feast of ocean cuisine, options like jumbo shrimp, Algarve prawn, tiger shrimp, oyster, king crab and crayfish. The seafood platter is famous for offering these delicious delicacies in one gigantic serving garnished with lemon and garlic. But if you're up for something lighter, then the pesticos (snacks) are just as mouth watering. Try the prawns or clams in olive oil and garlic, lots of garlic. Fish dinners feature the house special -- bacalhau ? br�s: flakes of grilled codfish serves with egg, onion, parsley and matchstick potato fries. The restaurant is also a beer house (cervejaria) and customers are welcome to pop just for a drink. (+351 (0)21 354 9411, +351 936 520 721)
5 Pedro e o Lobo
Classy without being overly pretentious, "Peter and the Wolf", as the restaurant's name translates into English, is set in a former art gallery, and the space is still synonymous with creativity. The gastronomy acknowledges Portugal's rich culinary heritage, and the seasons that determine certain ingredients. Mediterranean flavours add extra colour and texture to a menu that celebrates tradition but in fact shouts contemporary. This is artisan cuisine, prepared with flair and imagination and served with a seriously modern twist. Try the glazed knuckle of veal with chards, fresh garlic confit, patison zucchini and pioppino mushrooms The interior design signature is sober by comparison -- all chocolate hues, ash grey flourishes and dark wood furniture. And if all you want is a drink, the bar has some outstanding cocktail selections mixed with verve and audacity. (+351)21 193 3719)
4 5 Oceanos
Lisbon's fashionable Alcântara docks provide an ideal setting for this highly regarded fish and seafood restaurant. Tables spill out onto a wood deck that overlooks the Santo Amaro marina and the River Tagus beyond. The restaurant proper is a converted warehouse, and as its name suggests, the gastronomy celebrates the oceans' harvest. Weekend lunchtimes are always busy, with locals and tourists alike flocking to sample delights such as grilled prawns with garlic, tuna steak, and an assortment of flame grilled fish options including grouper, bass, sea bream and turbot. Lobster, oyster and crab can also be ordered. The wines, especially the whites, perfectly complement the cuisine, and they also offer sangria. The restaurant practically lies under the spectacular Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge and traffic noise is audible, although it's a low hum that the ear readily gets used to. (+351 21 397 8015)
Located in the city's Saldanha district near Campo Pequeno, and well off the tourist trail, late-night Galeto is the nearest thing to a genuine American diner in Lisbon, and the original mid-60s décor is a real eye opener. The long bar snakes around the entire floor with swivel stools set alongside -- great for a solitary snack. The booths, meanwhile, can seat groups of four. They've been feeding the sleepless here for nearly 50 years and it remains a celebrated comfort food destination. The service will never win any prizes for finesse, but dishes like the juicy burger and French fries will keep even the hungriest visitor fuelled till dawn. (+351 21 354 4444)
2 Taberna Moderna
The bar serving this delightfully offbeat restaurant has nearly 80 different varieties of gin to tempt diners -- handy if you end up waiting for a table. But very often this is the drink of choice for customers choosing to eat at this extremely popular dining venue. It's not that the wine list is in any way inferior, but with such a bewildering array of gin at hand, it's rather fun to experiment with the food. The menu is tapas orientated -- delicious Spanish finger food is the speciality. But there's also an interesting sushi-esque choice as well as Portuguese-Mediterranean fusion options, dishes like beef Carpaccio and duck, braised tuna and mushroom risotto. (+351 21 886 5039)
1 La Paparrucha
This highly regarded Argentinian restaurant is famed for its choice of succulent parrilla-grilled steaks, anything from sirloin and tenderloin to rump and flank. Serving options range from a juicy tenderloin wrapped in puff pastry with wild mushrooms and bacon to a delicious mixed meat kebab -- sirloin steak, cap rump, bacon, onions and peppers. The menu also lists a selection of pasta and fish dishes. As you'd expect, the extensive wine list features several Argentinian labels including a full-bodied Finca Flichman Misterio Syrah red. The restaurant's other claim to fame is the fabulous views (totally Romantic at night) across midtown Lisbon from the window tables and outside terrace. A bar allows for drinks before dining, or as a late night hangout. (+351 (0)21 342 5333)
About Paul Bernhardt
Paul Bernhardt cut his teeth as a press photographer in England before leaving the UK to settle in Portugal, where he has lived for over a decade, and where he started to focus on more travel-related topics. He has journeyed the length and breadth of his adopted homeland and its islands, interacting with locals and photographing a fascinating range of subjects.
Paul waxes lyrical for a number of specialist travel magazines, blogs and websites, and Lisbon is a frequent subject. In fact, he never tires of rediscovering this most beguiling city, usually over a coffee at his favorite downtown café.
Read more about Paul Bernhardt here.