Henrique Sá Pessoa is one of Portugal's most dynamic chefs. Media savvy and with plenty of marketing nous, he knows how to turn heads and raise eyebrows. He also knows how to cook! Michelin thinks so, and has awarded Alma two coveted stars for his efforts. Sá Pessoa regales his guests with clever interpretations of Portuguese gastronomy made a touch more exotic with Asian flourishes based on his travels to this exotic part of the world. Options include two highly regarded tasting menus – Costa a Costa, inspired by the ocean, and Alma, which features a collection of the chef's own favourites. The wine cellar is inspiring and includes wines from across Portugal including some lesser known labels which will surprise even the seasoned connoisseur.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: One of Lisbon's exclusive Michelin-starred restaurants, Alma is quite simply a delightful journey through international flavours.
Paul's expert tip: For a truly international flavour, opt for the Caminhos, a three-course menu that reflect's Sá Pessoa's world travels.
Tucked away in Lisbon's Santo district is this rustic-styled eatery that's won a handful of awards for its traditional home style cooking. Ably run by Cristina and Antonio, the restaurant seats just 22 so the atmosphere is cozy and service prompt. Signature dishes include the delicious bacalhau Madragoa, oven-baked cod served with sliced and breaded potato and garnished with garlic, coriander and olive oil. The kitchen is also known for its tender and succulent steaks. Dessert options include a truly majestic chocolate cake with cream. The wine list is selective but represents wines bottled by smaller, independent producers the result being a choice of some remarkable and little known reds and whites.
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 clichéd, is one of the city's best-kept eating out secrets. Indeed, O Pitéu do Graça 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 rojões à 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.
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 – 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!
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.
Less often means more, and this minimalist gem delivers a memorable dining experience with deceptive ease. Located within the walls of the historic 15th-century Pal�cio Belmonte, an upscale accommodation option sited in Lisbon's quaint Castelo quarter, Leopold offers diners a simply presented yet impressively created seasonal tasting menu that while acknowledging Portugal's culinary heritage, is quite singular in its inception. Using locally sourced ingredients, co-owner and chef Tiago Feio has produced a series of dishes that underline his savvy technique and mastery of interpretation. A modest wine list featuring rare and select Portuguese labels, plus one or two French and Italian examples, further enhances an extraordinary gastronomic journey. Tiago's partner, Ana Cachaco, who is Leopold's co-owner, provides an effortless and engaging table service. Together the pair make perfect hosts.
Opened in December 2017, Prado is one of Lisbon's newest restaurants. Born out of a long abandoned factory premises the contemporary styled eatery is fast becoming 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 Eça de Queirós (1845-1900) will probably have read 'A Tragédia 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. Opened in 2012 after extensive refurbishment, 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. Despite the makeover, 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 André Magalhães 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.