Lunch in Lisbon. The tastiest midday menus.



Lunch in Lisbon can be a memorable experience. But with so many restaurants in different locations to choose from, where do you decide on a place to eat? One of the most original and organic-looking lunchtime dining experiences can be enjoyed at Erva, located on the ground floor of the Corinthia Hotel. If yore exploring the city’s Chiado district why not drop by Pizzaria Lisboa for a taste of Italy? Also in the vicinity is the charming Royale Café. if you’re staying in the Saldanha neighbourhood head up to Terraço do Marques for a bite to eat with a midtown skyline view. if after taking in the city’s castle you fancy eating in the Castelo district, opt for Chapitô à Mesa: the food’s delicious, and their downtown views are equally spectacular! Meanwhile, for those staying in and around the Alcântara district there’s the trendy LX Factory to discover and where you’ll find the offbeat Cantina LX. Back in the city centre, meanwhile, is the popular Floresta do Salitre, located on a side street off Avenida da Liberdade. Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, Alfama, is a fantastic to discover, but you can work up quite an appetite while doing so. In that case pause at the homely Bistrô & Brechó Gato Pardo, a tiny restaurant that resembles an old-fashioned front room and where cats are adored. Mercearia do Século, a hideaway deli-bistro near Principe Real, is where homemade food is served with local bonhomie. And for lunch by the river, grab a terrace table at Restaurante Espaço Espelho d’Agua, located on the Belém waterfront.

 

 



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Lunch at this wonderful eatery is served with an inspiring view over the river. Diners however are also treated to an extraordinary piece of history in that the restaurant is located in an art deco building dating from 1940. The space reflects the original period décor and carefully refurbished additions, including a terrace that sits over a splendid water feature. The cafeteria serves a variety of wholesome snacks plus a selection of more substantial dishes, including lunchtime specials. If you prefer to dine in a little more style, the restaurant proper features a menu of traditional Portuguese cuisine and a select wine list. And of course you can always opt for a drink the esplanade while soaking in the balmy waterfront atmosphere.


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Bairro Alto/Principe Real


 

It's certainly worth seeking out this delightful home-style bistro, which is tucked away in a residential side street well off the tourist trail. The theme here is fresh, healthy and organic with no compromise on flavour or presentation. Indeed, when a menu lists starters like beetroot gazpacho and mushrooms in port wine, you know you're in for something special. Main dishes include octopus with couscous while desserts number yoghurt with fruit and granola. Veggies will love it! The collection of wines is modest but features some noble labels. Rustically styled with an authentic ambiance, this deli-eatery is an understated locally-run gem.


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Mario and Werner love cats. It's why they named their restaurant after a feline (the bistro's logo resembles a domestic cat but with the spots of a leopard). This place is like walking into someone's front room, and the domestic ambiance is tangible. Vintage wooden furniture is used throughout, with leather-clad chairs and an old sofa adding to the lived-in appeal. Werner is from Switzerland so he's embellished the menu with a selection of crêpes, both sweet and savoury. The international flavour is further enhanced with dishes like ravioli funghi porcini. Portuguese options include prato tira-gostos com pão, and the kitchen always offers a dish of the day. When it gets really busy (especially Tuesday and Saturday lunchtimes due to crowds visiting a nearby flea market) tables are set outside on the sidewalk. From here, diners can gaze at the trams trundling past São Vicente de Fora church.


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Don't be surprised if you end up waiting to be seated lunchtimes at this lively little restaurant: Floresta do Salitre is a favourite with lisboetas seeking midday sustenance, and local office workers â€" secretaries, admin bods and probably even their managing directors â€" snap up many of the tables. The food is typical Portuguese fare, homemade and served promptly with minimum fuss. They're big on seafood here, with a delicious array of grilled fish options embellishing a menu that also lists food from the countryside â€" lamb, chicken and pork dishes variously prepared and representing different regions of Portugal. Complementing the gastronomy are wines sold by the glass or available by the bottle.


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24 de Julho & Docas/Alcantara


 

Located west of the city centre at Alcântara's LX Factory complex, Cantina LX exudes a shabby chic atmosphere where a miss-match of hand-me-down chairs and tables are set in a former warehouse space to lend the restaurant a delightfully informal, almost haphazard canteen appearance. The food is wholesome and refreshingly uncomplicated, and for the most part traditional Portuguese. At its simplest, you can order wood oven-baked chicken with roasted new red potatoes (cooked in full view of diners). There's also the interesting swordfish with tomato rice ensemble. For dessert, see if the apple pie is up. Simply delicious! The lunch menu changes every day so you never quite know what to expect, and if it's very busy you might have to wait a while for your order.


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Castelo/Alfama


 

Chapito is Lisbon's famed circus school and performing arts centre located a couple of minutes' walk from Castelo de Sáo Jorge. Its restaurant is one of the quirkiest in town, a colourful and vibrant eatery set in a mustard-hued townhouse. Tables are also set outside across a courtyard and a small covered terrace, and diners are treated to a spectacular downtown panorama. Food is deliciously appetising â€" the menu lists fresh crunchy salads (try the mackerel and boguerones) all bursting with goodness, seafood dishes such as octopus and sweet potato, and assorted toasted sandwiches and tempting desserts. Specials of the day are chalked up on a blackboard. Wine is served by the glass as well as by bottle â€" a dry white works wonders on a hot day! Given its location and the quality of service, a meal here is excellent value for money. Furthermore, the vibe is offbeat, eclectic and seriously friendly.


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Heightened by absorbing views of the city's landmark Marques do Pombal, the menu at this slick rooftop restaurant features a selection of surf 'n' turf options prepared with unfussy flare. Besides the casual diner, this is a lunch venue that numbers smartly attired executives among its clientele, given its proximity to Lisbon's busy financial district. Speedy service upholds the "time is money" mantra, but for those with time on their hands, the spacious outdoors terrace with its fresh-air views provides delicious sanctuary from the sidewalk hustle and bustle below. Order juicy grilled tiger prawns or a succulent entrecote steak, choose a wine, Papa Figos from the Douro, perhaps, –and while away the midday hours in true Portuguese style: easy and unhurried.


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Chef Dolores Lopes is justifiably proud of the menu she's created for this elegant bistro. The cuisine speaks of healthy and balanced eating, of textures and flavours typical of Portugal and southern Europe. Appetizers draw on Mediterranean influences, with options like Greek Tzatziki and North African hummus. Her culinary prowess is further exemplified by contemporary arrangements of traditional Portuguese recipes to produce "Magusto" chicken thighs stuffed with chestnut and smoked sausage and octopus with potato and turnip greens, to name just two dishes. The "Royale Desserts" include an indulgent chocolate cake with forest fruits and ice cream. Some excellent wines (try the Fartote from the Douro) complement the food, and the restaurant also has a selection of artisan beers. On Sundays and Bank Holidays the kitchen rustles up a fine brunch.


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One of Lisbon's busiest chefs still finds time to run this smart pizza joint, and his reputation alone guarantees a flavour-packed dining experience. José Avillez owns several eateries in the city, including the celebrated Belcanto, distinguished with two Michelin stars. But catering to gastronomy's top-tier clientele has not meant abandoning his street credentials and fuelled by his passion for food, the young Portuguese chef created Pizzaria Lisboa not only as a celebration of Mediterranean cuisine, but as a homage to the Portuguese capital. Indeed, each pizza is named after a city district (except for one called "28" after the number of a tram, and another called "Fado"), which means there are plenty to choose from. A selection of tasty pasta and risotto dishes further enhances the menu. And if you're still not convinced, any restaurant that has among its starters beef carpaccio with foie gras shavings sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and served with a truffle aroma is certainly worth a look in.


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Sete Rios/Benfica


 

The positive effect of nature on the human condition is well documented. Seeing greenery helps us feel more relaxed and calm, which in turn benefits everyday mood. Imagine then a restaurant the interior of which is bedecked with plant life, verdant foliage decorating floors and walls, and embellishing tables and bar tops. Welcome to Erva, an upscale eatery housed within a vertical garden and one of the most organic-looking dining spots in the city. Located on the ground floor of the Corinthia Hotel, but with direct access to the street, Erva (in English, erva means herb or grass) celebrates Portugal's rich culinary heritage with a menu that honours the country's gastronomic traditions. Chef Artur Gomes and his team adopt an "honest cuisine approach" in the kitchen, reinventing authentic recipes using local and seasonal produce to create contemporary dishes plated up with flair and imagination. Depending on the season, dining at Erva is to experience a select menu of appetizers, anything from marinated prawns and avocado on crispy chicken skin to octopus carpaccio with crab and gazpacho sauce. Main dishes include skate with roasted onion purée smothered with a Mediterranean sauce, and roasted lamb shoulder with "aligot" potato, an Erva signature dish. "What we are offering is an informal fine-dining experience," says Gomes. "But achieving a balanced menu is important. We therefore like to combine as many flavours as possible." It's a technique extended to the dessert choice, where treats like the chocolate, peanut and caramel ensemble is a mouth-watering exercise in taste and texture. The wine list is representative of the entire country, including the islands. Erva's knowledgeable and enthusiastic sommelier is on hand to pair wines with food, and he's also happy to suggest a cocktail aperitif beforehand.


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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...  More About Paul

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