With a kitchen directed by celebrated Portuguese chef Henrique Sá Pessoa, Alma (which means "soul" in Portuguese) is deserving of its two Michelin stars. This is far more than a fine-dining experience: Alma is an invitation for diners to share in Pessoa's knowledge of traditional Portuguese cuisine and his culinary philosophy of providing meals influenced by world cuisine. Indeed, he's not afraid to experiment to create dishes as deceptively simple as his famous sea flavours and citrus option, a combination of yuzu sorbet, crystallised algae, and citrus curd, and that's just for starters! Dining at Alma is also to enjoy the surroundings of a carefully converted 18th-century nobleman's residence, replete with original stone-slab flooring and ceiling arches. In fact, the historic atmosphere complements the special occasion.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: An exceptional restaurant set in an exceptional location, Alma ticks all the "best" boxes for its innovative menu and sophisticated but understated vibe.
Paul's expert tip: Order the sardine and eggplant with roast peppers. Delicious!
Tágide has arguably the best view across downtown Lisbon of any restaurant in the vicinity. Its first-floor terrace reveals a wonderfully romantic tableau that features the castle, cathedral and the River Tagus. Matching the panorama's wow factor is the authentic Portuguese gastronomy created by chef Gonçalo Costa His carefully crafted menu combines regional ingredients with southern European and international culinary influences. From Tuesday to Friday, lighter meals are served in the Tágide Wine & Tapas bar on the ground floor, typically Portuguese but again, presented with Costa's gourmet touch. Considering the high caliber of the menu and Chiado location, this refined and upscale venue is remarkably good value for money.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The views combine rooftop Lisbon with the river, and the fine dining restaurant coupled with the less formal wine bar is an alluring combination.
Paul's expert tip: The restaurant hosts special occasions including port wine dinners and cooking workshops.
Where do chefs eat on their days off? They nip up to Lisbon's Graca district and chill out in this humble and homely eatery that, at the risk of sounding terribly clich–d, is one of the city's best-kept eating out secrets. Indeed, O Pit–u do Gra–a is the restaurant of choice for many of the capital's top chefs, drawn to a veritable cookbook of regional fare prepared to age-old recipes. Homemade staples like filetes de cherne com arroz de tomate e pimentos (turbot fillet with tomato and pepper rice) and roj–es – minhota (spiced and marinated chunks of roast pork Minho-style) exemplify the menu, and food is served promptly and with genuine pride. Locals love the place and it is, literally, first come, first served, especially during the evenings and weekends. Turn up with friends, order a jug of the house red, and enjoy one of the most authentic dining experiences in town. And incidentally, during the summer the restaurant serves a wonderful outdoors terrace.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The homemade food is delicious and inexpensive, and some of the city's top chefs come here to enjoy the bonhomie and "Grandma cooking".
Paul's expert tip: Tram 28 trundles right past the front door. The streetcar snakes up to Gra–a from the Baixa (downtown) at regular intervals.
It takes bravado to beat the Spanish at their own game but this charmingly authentic tapas bar is doing exactly that, with some of its repeat customers driving all the way from Madrid to indulge in tasty tidbits like seared scallops over cauliflower purée, and fresh cod ceviche with mango and garlic cream. The restaurant is set under arches of dusty brickstone, the original architecture of what was once the cellar of a merchant's town house. The appearance is beautiful and romantic, especially at night. The outside terrace is equally attractive and popular during the summer: order a tapas selection and an Estrela Galicia beer for a memorable al fresco moment!
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Arguably the most attractive tapas restaurant in the Portuguese capital, and with a genuine Iberian atmosphere.
Paul's expert tip: Diners should note that the restaurant permits smoking: the dessert menu even includes a list of cigars!
This no-frills, family-run eatery wouldn't look out of place in the middle of the Portuguese countryside. The fact, then, that it's tucked away in the centre of Lisbon simply adds to its allure as one of the friendliest and most authentic rustic-style restaurants in the city (check out their collection of whacky wall clocks). Always frequented by local residents who swear by the hearty wholesome fare, table numbers are increasingly bolstered by in-the-know visitors who recognise a gastronomic gem when they see one (or when they are attracted by the delicious aromas swirling around the front door). The menu lists regional Portuguese cuisine such as grilled meats and fish, accompanied by crunchy vegetables and boiled potatoes or chunky chips, perfectly fried. Order a dish of the day and a litre of wine for two and you'll still walk away with change from twenty euros. Yes, this little place is also excellent value for money.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Still managing to stay under the Lisbon restaurant radar, A Provinciana exudes a delightful countryside atmosphere and provincial charm.
Paul's expert tip: If it's listed, order the grilled meat skewer, succulent wedges of different meats chargrilled to perfection.
Fittingly, the name of this premier seafood restaurant translates as the "House of Cod" such is its affinity with this most popular and nourishing of fish. The Portuguese have affectionately christened the humble cod their "faithful friend" and over the years numerous hand-me-down recipes have been devised using the fish as the main ingredient. A selection of these have been lent a deliciously inventive tribute by the restaurant's kitchen so that diners can indulge in dishes like cod cataplana with cream and shrimps (basically a slow-burn fish stew) or the seriously creative cod "Holy Friday" – a fusion of Italian pasta with pepperoni accompanied by a fresh, crisp salad – among other regional-international selections. The comprehensive wine list is a revelation, with reds and whites from most regions of Portugal available by the glass or bottle.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Savouring one of Portugal's most emblematic dishes in an historic setting is reason enough to experience the upmarket Casa do Bacalhau.
Paul's expert tip: Diners should note the dining room ceiling, part of the original stables that neighboured the 18th-century palace of the Duke of Laf–es.
Born out of a long abandoned factory premises contemporary styled Prado is a Lisbon a fine-dining reference point, but in no way feels pretentious or too exclusive. Instead, this is a wonderfully inviting walk-in sanctuary– an interior flooded by natural light and decorated for the most part with light wood furnishings and attractive hanging plant arrangements. Indeed, the look is organic-chic. Chef António Galapito has designed a menu that mimics the seasons. Much of the produce is sourced locally from markets and farms around the Lisbon area (prado means "meadow" in English) to create deceptively simple dishes like cockles served with chard, coriander and fried bread. The cellar stocks a range of natural, organic, and biodynamic national and international wines. The cellar itself sits of an excavated Roman road, the foundations of which are clearly visible. While you're enjoying your meal, note the ceramic tableware. Each piece is individually handcrafted to add yet another unique aspect to the prado dining experience.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Prado exemplifies the new approach taken by ma Lisbon restaurateurs in providing healthy cuisine in fresh and contemporary surroundings with an emphasis on sustainability.
Paul's expert tip: If you end up having to wait for a table, order a refreshing kombucha and chill out in the open-air lounge and admire a truly remarkable wall mural.
Anyone familiar with Portuguese author E–a de Queir–s (1845-1900) will probably have read 'A Trag–dia da Rua das Flores' (The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers). Some of the satirical novel's plotline is played out in an apartment sited directly above where this restaurant now stands. In the late 19th century it was a barbershop. Later it became a warehouse for a nearby pharmacy. Today it's one of Lisbon's most vibrant and alluring eateries. Taberna da Rua das Flores keeps a copy of the novel in a glass cabinet attached to one of the walls, the book kept company by bottles of unfiltered wines and own-brand olive oils. The tiny restaurant oozes a delightful yesteryear charm and plenty of Boho character. Vestiges of the original building remain: the patterned tiles are from the period as is the stone floor, polished smooth with age. Chef Andr– Magalh–es presides over a kitchen noted for serving up meia desfeita de bacalhau, a delicious cod-based dish, and aromatic iscas com elas–liver fried in pork fat, among other traditional Portuguese culinary treats. Vegetarian options are also available. Wines are local, from the Lisbon and Tejo regions. For a novel dining experience, ask to be seated on the stairs and order the petsicos, bite-sized Portuguese snacks that simply melt in your mouth. Note that table reservations are not accepted. Customer service extends to door-to-door delivery, and a take out option.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Taberna da Rua das Flores celebrates tasty Portuguese cuisine while acknowledging one of the country's greatest writers.
Paul's expert tip: Try their 'Tragedy' cocktail, mixed in memory of E–a de Queir–s, and toast your evening in the "Street of Flowers".
Popping into Taberna is to explore Portugal's extraordinary culinary heritage. The restaurant is designed to resemble a rustic eatery, something that typifies the cozy, family-run cafes scattered throughout the country's interior. But this is a place to eat that also serves as a mercearia, a grocer's store that sells all sorts of authentic goodies, anything from hams and cheeses to jams and honey. Indeed, eating here is a delightfully eclectic experience. I mean are you in the city or the countryside? Taberna is all about savouring traditional delicacies carefully reinvented to appeal to both those who enjoy a good hearty meal or prefer a lighter though no less tasty snack. Appetizers, soups, salads, grilled dishes, and desserts grace the menu, which also indicates vegan and gluten-free choices, and those that contain potential allergens.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The man behind Tabera is Jose Avillez, Portugal's most famous chef (he holds two Michelin stars at the city's Belcanto restaurant).
Paul's expert tip: Take a wander down the corridor for a wonderful surprise, another Avillez eatery known as Patio which takes the Portuguese culinary experience to another level.
One of Lisbon's most popular seafood restaurants, Sea Me is a feast for the senses in that it serves as a typical Portuguese fishmonger, beer house, and Japanese sushi bar rolled into one. Indeed, the guys that run this place have successfully reinterpreted the concept of the traditional fish and seafood eatery. A supercool interior design greets diners, an inviting combination of natural wood and stainless steel. One glance at the menu and you're hooked, dishes that include humongous seafood platters, grilled fish cuts, and an extraordinary range of seafood options, crab, lobster, and clams included. A favorite plate is the slow oven-baked octopus with potato and turnip greens. But they also rustle up a tempting sardine nigiri, a delicious example of the Asian-fusion options that elevate Sea Me's extensive menu. The sushi is as good as anything presented in the city's finest Japanese restaurants, and the wine list has been created to match the locally caught ocean harvest.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Locals cite Sea Me as one of the city's finest restaurants for its seafood menu, value for money, and hip vibe, a winning combination.
Paul's expert tip: Order a plate of mouth-watering oysters and a glass of white wine, the restaurant's signature snack.