Food and Football: Restaurants near Estádio da Luz in Lisbon's Benfica District



Football is a passion in Portugal. In Lisbon, one of the country’s most famous stadiums, Estádio da Luz, is located in Benfica in the city’s northern suburbs. Benfica is somewhat off the tourist trail, but football fans regularly tread a path to the “Stadium of Light” to see their favourite team in action.

There are plenty of restaurants near Estádio da Luz where home and away fans can eat before kickoff.

The nearest place to eat is in the stadium itself, at Catedral da Cerveja. Diners can sit at tables overlooking the pitch and enjoy a grandstand view of the game.

If you’re heading for the ground via Benfica railway station and want to eat first, leave time to seek out David da Buraca. This traditional Portuguese restaurant is one of the best eateries in the neighbourhood! Likewise, the excellent O Solar de Benfica is within walking distance of the venue, though it’s probably more convenient to hail a cab to save time. Another restaurant worth discovering is Edmundo, which is found on the way to the stadium from the station.

The huge Colombo Shopping Centre situated opposite Estádio da Luz houses a cavernous food hall where dozens of restaurants can be found including Italian Republic, Serra da Estrela, Sr Bacalhau and Go Natural. Like the stadium itself, the mall is easily reached by metro. Two more restaurants are worth discovering, before or after the game. Roda is sited back near Benfica station while Califa is closer to the stadium. Both serve fine Portuguese food. 



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Everybody knows Califa. This is the place to buy cakes, tarts and pastries – a veritable hamper of sweet things and desserts. But this friendly pastelaria is also one of Benfica's most popular restaurants, and it's been serving the community since 1968. Just a 20-minute walk west from Estadio da Luz, the eatery is known for its traditional Portuguese cuisine, nothing fancy or expensive just wholesome platefuls of honest down-to-earth cooking that's garnered a loyal clientele. Califa is especially busy at lunchtimes as it caters for a local office crowd. But it's also a popular dinner venue and is a popular haunt for families and hungry post-match spectators.


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Sete Rios/Benfica


 

Despite its name meaning "cartwheel" in English, Roda is actually noted for its fish and seafood menu, with specialities like filetes dourados com arroz de tomate (John Dory with tomato rice) and chocos grelhados (cuttlefish, with or without ink) tempting the palate. Roda is also known for its meat dishes, so you can also order sizzling pork chops with bacon or grilled veal. Somewhat incongruously perhaps, the kitchen does a great prawn curry. The wine list is good if a bit selective. Roda stands almost opposite Edmundo restaurant so is another great option for those heading for Estadio da Luz from Benfica railway station.


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Sete Rios/Benfica


 

Humongous salads bursting with freshness characterize the menu at this health-conscious eatery. The food choice is themed around all sorts of different combinations: Grega (Greek), Atlantica (Atlantic) and Mediterranica (Mediterranean), to name but three. Crisp lettuce, shredded carrot and cabbage, green and red pepper, garlic, olive, egg... It's all here, soaked in citrusy vinaigrette and other mouth-watering dressings. They also have fruit salad combinations, wraps and spicy dips for pitta bread and nachos. A big favourite is the Grelhados, where diced grilled pork, beef or chicken is served on a bed of green salad. The restaurant is also known for its pasta and thick, creamy soups, all prepared with fresh natural ingredients.


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Sete Rios/Benfica


 

"Mr Cod", as its name translates in English, is the place to sample the codfish dishes that Portugal is famous for. It's said that there is a cod recipe for every day of the year but while you won't find 365 different fish dinners here, you'll certainly be able to savour some of the better known ones, including bacalhau a bras (with garlic and potato) and bacalhau com natas (with cream). But fish is not the only meal on the menu. Sr Bacalhau can rustle up picanha (juicy steak slices) and hamburgers. Desserts range from diet-inducing cakes and ice cream to fresh fruit salads.


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Sete Rios/Benfica


 

Serra da Estrela is a mountainous region of Portugal located in the centre of the country and known for its hearty country fare. And that's exactly what this rustically styled restaurant serves up. The menu is based on traditional hand-me-down recipes typical of the area, classics like alheira com ovo e migas – rich spicy grilled sausage with egg and moist crumbling maize bread. They also have a selection of fish dishes, among them grilled salmon and cod in cream sauce. Dishes of the day often mean succulent grilled chicken, again prepared in time-honored fashion with planet of garlic and onion. And be sure to order the house red wine.


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Sete Rios/Benfica


 

Great tasting Italian gourmet fast food is served promptly at this stylish restaurant. The menu lists a choice of pizza, including the wonderfully named 'Eataly' – a delicious standby of cheese and tomato thin crust topped with basil and oregano. More substantial pasts dishes can be ordered such as spaghetti, lasagna and linguini. Their risottos are particularly tempting: try the prawn and courgette combo flavoured with white wine. Actually, the wine list is pretty good, with plenty of Portuguese labels to choose from. Beers are also available as are soft drinks for the kids. Leave room for dessert though – the tiramisu is heavenly.


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Sete Rios/Benfica


 

This highly regarded restaurant attracts an enthusiastic local crowd drawn to a comprehensive menu of predominantly fish and seafood dishes. Indeed, this is one of the best marisqueiras in the neighbourhood, with delicacies like gamba cozida de Mocambique (Mozambique style prawn) and ameijoas a Bulhao Pato (cockles in garlic) listed among other a veritable ocean harvest. Crab, lobster and a huge variety of fish can also be ordered (try the monkfish rice). The protein offer extends to a good selection of grilled meat platters, and because this is also a cervejaria, or beerhouse, there's an extensive range of beers (although the wines are equally impressive).


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Sete Rios/Benfica


 

Housed in a refurbished 19th-century coach house, the rustic atmosphere and country-style appeal of this wonderfully authentic restaurant is heightened by a menu that draws on traditional Portuguese recipes to regale diners with dishes like bifinhos de porco com abacaxi (pork chops with pineapple fruit) or arroz de polvo com camarão (octopus rice with prawn). The wine list is solid, and customers will notice an impressive wine rack near the entrance stacked with some excellent reds and whites from across the country. For such a noted eatery (the restaurant is run by the same people responsible for David da Buraca), the cuisine is attractively inexpensive but I still prepared to the highest order. Closed Wed.


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Sete Rios/Benfica


 

Established in 1967, this family-run restaurant is one of Lisbon's great culinary surprises. Nestling among a warren of back streets not far from Benfica railway station, David da Buraca started life as a humble tasca serving a handful of locals. As word spread about the quality of its traditional Portuguese menu and the quality of the cooking, rooms were added, floorspace extended and business blossomed. And yet the restaurant manages to stay well under the tourist radar, instead attracting a loyal, nod-and-a-wink clientele. You may be lucky enough to know someone who's heard about the place. Otherwise this absolutely authentic eatery can easily pass you by. Indeed, its nondescript façade blends perfectly into the unremarkable surroundings (although a section of the city's 18th-century aqueduct stands nearby). But make the effort to find it and you'll savor a meal to remember – and the wines are pretty good too. Closed Tuesdays.


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Sete Rios/Benfica

 

Football and food are served up with equal passion at Catedral da Cerveja, actually built within the Estádio da Luz and overlooking the pitch. Fans can access the restaurant bar from midday onwards but meals are only available in the evening, even on match days (football games in Portugal are always evening events). Tables are set over a spacious dining hall with huge picture windows that afford a panorama of the entire stadium. Interior décor is influenced by memorable moments in Benfica's club history (there are plenty of images depicting Eusébio, one of Portugal's most venerated players), and the ambiance is informal and chatty. The menu celebrates the country's traditional gastronomy. The restaurant's name translates in English as the "Cathedral of Beer" and there's plenty of choice for thirsty fans.


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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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