Best Waterfront Dining in Lisbon

Lisbon's waterfront restaurants: eating by the river

In Lisbon, choosing to eat at waterfront restaurants presents an ideal opportunity to dine at some of the city’s best-known riverside eateries. Offering Michelin-starred gastronomy and dramatic river and estuary views is Fifty Seconds, one of Lisbon's newest restaurants. Perched on the docks near the city center is Ibo, a contemporary eatery specializing in African-Portuguese cuisine. West over at Belém is Restaurante do Clube Naval de Lisboa, a local haunt founded way back in 1892. The spectacular views afforded from Amarra Ó Tejo, situated on an elevated position on the south bank of the River Tagus, make the effort of reaching this wonderful culinary retreat well worth it. Similarly, sited lower down almost on the water’s edge is the lovely Ponte Final with its outside tables set on an old jetty. Meanwhile, back on the opposite bank, Feitoria Restaurant & Wine Bar, a Michelin-starred establishment, is the waterfront dining venue of choice for those seeking a memorable gourmet experience. Located near the city center is another local favorite Portugalia, which sits on the quay near Cais do Sodré. Back in Belém is the remarkable Espaço Espelho d’Agua, housed in a beautiful 1940s-era modernist building and which sits in its own lake. Somewhat off the beaten track but always worth investigating is Darwin's Cafe, which is located in Algés, a riverfront suburb easily reached by train. And there's always funky café-restaurant À Margem at Belém with its trendy vibe and uninterrupted coastal views. 


For casual dining with a waterfront view, this trendy little cafe-restaurant is hard to beat. Set on the esplanade in Belém, the terrace looks out over the River Tagus and is especially alluring during the warm summer months. Snacks and light meals, steaks, sandwiches, salads and soups are served throughout the day, with a selection of tempting desserts available as a follow-up or as a delicious treat (check out their ice creams). Service can get a tad slow when it's really busy but this is made up for by the quality of the food and the location. In fact to make the most of the locale arrive just before dusk, order a bottle of wine and watch the sun set over the horizon. Magical!

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Contemporary cafe society with a waterfront view perfectly sums up À Margem and the surrounding area.

Paul's expert tip: Order the cheese platter and try one of their red wines, a tangy, full-bodied combo that works wonders with the sea air.

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West of Center

Darwin's Café is named after Charles Darwin (1809-1882) the eminent British scientist who laid the foundations of the theory of evolution. It's housed within the modern and techy Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, home of the private Champalimaud Foundation. Located in the pleasant waterfront suburb of Algés, Darwin's menu showcases traditional Portuguese cuisine with southern European accents. Lunch is an ideal time to relax on the terrace over a light meal and a glass or two of wine. Dinner can be more elaborate, with the menu offering linguine with spinach, cream and goat's cheese, duck magret in a mustard crust and homemade jam and grilled vegetables or saffron risotto with salmon and cherry tomato, among other choices. Patrons should note that smoking is permitted at outdoor tables. The area is wonderful walking territory, and nearby Belém can be reached by following the promenade that hugs the River Tagus.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Sited off the tourist trail, Darwin's Cafe is nevertheless worth making the effort to reach for its delicious cuisine and the wide river mouth panorama.

Paul's expert tip: For a wonderful stroll, head west from Belém (with a short diversion along the dual carriageway) where you'll eventually reach the cafe.

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A stunning example of a waterfront-dining spot, this unusual restaurant is fashioned within a beautiful art deco building that was commissioned for the 1940 Portuguese World Exposition. Originally designed by António Lino as a 'Water Mirror' pavilion, what you see today is a result of careful renovation that pays tribute to the architect's vision of a structure seemingly floating on the surface of a lake. Besides housing a restaurant and café, this modernist gem also works as an art gallery and performing arts venue. In addition, Espaço Espelho d'Agua hosts top-tier business and commercial events. For the casual visitor, however, it's all about diverting off the promenade at Belém for lunch al fresco on the terrace or arriving at sunset for a meal in chic, minimalist surroundings. Both spaces afford outstanding views across the River Tagus. The cafeteria offers a range of deliciously inventive comfort food, from simple toasted sandwiches and pizzas to succulent grilled meats, seafood salads and tapas-style snacks. Note that during the busy summer months service can be a tad slow. The dinner menu lists a more sophisticated choice, where traditional Portuguese cuisine is enhanced with Mediterranean and North African flavours. A wall mural by the renowned late conceptual artist Sol LeWitt lends the restaurant a dramatic perspective and further underlines the design credentials of this singular and most original place to eat.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: An interesting dining experience, Espaço Espelho d'Agua combines gastronomy with art and design in one of Lisbon's most important mid-20th-century buildings.

Paul's expert tip: Make sure you visit the bar. It features an outstanding vertical garden composed of no less than 60 different species of plant life.

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Cais do Sodré/Santos

The well-respected national chain of Portugália restaurants and beer halls includes this hugely popular waterfront venue located near Cais do Sodré The restaurant specializes in catering for families, large groups and special occasions, like birthdays and weddings etc, and is often busy even during the day. Highly regarded for its seafood choice such as crab, lobster and grilled tiger prawn (which, it has to be said, can be a bit pricy) the menu also stands out for its succulent steaks including a great Portuguese standby, bitoque (fried beefsteak topped with fried egg with chips and garnished with salad). The range of beers is excellent and the wine list is of an equally high calibre.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Portugália's position along the promenade overlooking the river allows for pleasant waterfront views and well as a chance to dine with the locals.

Paul's expert tip: A creative menu aimed at kids provides bite-sized portions at half the price.

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Fashionable Feitoria commands a compelling position on the banks of the River Tagus in Belém. It also benefits from being the in-house restaurant of the upscale boutique Altis Belém Hotel & Spa. Foodies, though, are drawn to this waterfront eatery for its Michelin-star menu, designed by chef João Rodrigues. The gastronomy is an inventive take on traditional Portuguese, Spanish and southern European recipes, with dishes presented in a beautiful and contemporary manner. Inaugurating the dining experience is a selection of hot or cold starters, entrees like the delicately flavored sautéed Algarve scarlet shrimp garnished with fresh cucumber. Succulent grouper served with green peas and smoked salami exemplifies main course choice, and the protein extends to tender veal loin with wild mushrooms. Wines are listed in the hundreds.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: One of a handful of Lisbon Michelin-starred restaurants, Feitoria also shines for its fabulous riverfront location.

Paul's expert tip: The tasting menu Caminho is offered as either a 7-dish or 9-dish experience. The restaurant also offers a similar vegetarian choice.

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Outside the City

Half the fun of experiencing this quirky waterfront eatery is finding it in the first place. It's located on the south bank of the River Tagus, about a 20-minute stroll west along the esplanade that snakes out of Cacilhas, the passenger ferry terminal linking it with Cais do Sodre. Suitably, Ponte Final means "Full Stop" in English and tables are set over a terrace on a disused jetty and the end of the esplanade. On on a clear, sunny day the views over to Lisbon are quite edifying. The restaurant is a favourite local haunt (pics of families and home-town footballers line the walls) and the familiar and unpretentious setting adds to the allure. The food is equally humble. This is a place to eat where the menu lists simple dishes like grilled sardines garnished with crunchy salad accompanied by wedges of bread and a house white. The gastronomy won't win prizes for presentation, but the locale is wholly appetizing.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: This is how the other half wine and dine, and the local ambiance Ponte Final exudes complements the wonderful river and city views.

Paul's expert tip: Even on a sunny day, the wind whipping off the river can be chilly. Bring a jumper! If visiting at night on foot, make a note of the return ferry times to Lisbon.

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Outside the City

The ferry trip across the River Tagus is reason enough to head for Lisbon's south bank, but especially so when the destination is Michelin-recommended Amarra Ó Tejo. This near-waterfront restaurant, set on a miradouro (viewpoint), really is off the tourist trail, but it's certainly worth making the effort to reach. Every table commands a stunning panorama of the entire river, with the Portuguese capital providing a glorious backdrop. The city's magnificent suspension bridge is also in the frame and at dusk, the scenario's wow factor is off the scale. Mind you, the cuisine is equally memorable: traditional Portuguese recipes have been cleverly reinterpreted, with dishes like the delightfully named lombinho de Porco preto recheado com sapateira puree de aipo e molho de Razel-hanout (black pork loin stuffed with crab and celery puree drizzled in a spicy Razel-hanout sauce) gracing the menu. The fish is always worth trying.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: The elevated views from the tables set near the windows mean Amarra Ó Tejo offers the widest panorama of Lisbon from any restaurant in the vicinity.

Paul's expert tip: Catch the ferry at Cais do Sodré for Cacilhas. The restaurant is within reasonable walking distance, but it's probably more convenient to catch a cab.

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Tasty seafood served with scenic views is the specialty of this waterfront diner. Set on the esplanade at Belém overlooking the river, the rather grand sounding Lisbon Navy Club restaurant is, in fact, a humble, no fuss eatery popular with locals who appreciate inexpensive food plated up with bonhomie in a great location. The menu features a range of tempting starters including gazpacho and a shrimp soup textured with cream. Cod, sea bream and tuna are among the main fish dishes, accompanied by boiled potato and garnished with a crispy green salad. The meat selection is modest but well presented. Diners can round off a meal with fresh fruit or a choice of traditional desserts. The restaurant is divided between interior salons (the tables upstairs set at the windows offer the best views) and an outside terrace, which has more of an al fresco café ambiance.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Restaurante do Clube Naval de Lisboa exudes a wonderfully unpretentious atmosphere heightened by a local laidback vibe.

Paul's expert tip: It's advisable to arrive early at weekends when family groups tend to snap up the best tables.

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Cais do Sodré/Santos

Set in the refurbished premises of a former salt warehouse, this dock front restaurant is named after an island located off the northern coast of Mozambique. The exotic destination has inspired the menu, which showcases tangy and spicy Mozambique specialties but also pays homage to the strong cultural links to Portugal. As you'd expect, fish and seafood feature widely, with dishes like tender octopus fillet served with tasty bean and coriander rice, and grilled tiger prawns bathed in Piri Piri sauce typical of the cuisine on offer. The African influence extends to meats, with "Zambeziana's" roasted chicken, an emblematic plate and a popular autumn dining choice.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: An imaginative and modern makeover of an early 20th-century waterfront warehouse and a creative Portuguese-African menu affords Ibo a funky but traditional vibe.

Paul's expert tip: For dessert, opt for the juicy stuffed papaya with ewe's milk cheese in a red wine reduction.

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Parque das Nações

Taking Lisbon waterfront dining to new heights is one of the city's newest restaurants, Fifty Seconds. Located at the top of the 120-meter Vasco da Gama Tower and part of the Myriad by SANA luxury hotel property, Fifty Seconds is named for the 50-second elevator ride to the restaurant's deck, an uplifting experience in itself. The Vasco da Gama tower is a landmark architectural feature of Parque das Nacoes, the former site of Lisbon's highly successful Expo 98. Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer and the first European to reach India by sea. This spirit of discovery extends to the philosophy adopted by Martin Berasategui, the Spanish chef directing the kitchen, who has designed a menu described as a "global menu for everyone." Eating at Fifty Seconds is to experience beautifully presented dishes composed of delicate and well balanced flavours. The menu does not list a set of individual courses (though diners have the option of ordering a separate starter). Instead a menu degustation is presented, gastronomy that imparts an extraordinary ensemble of colours, textures, and aromas. Each dish is created with flair, imagination, and genuine passion, and it's no surprise that Berasategui and his team of Portuguese chefs garnered a Michelin star soon after Fifty Seconds opened. Needless to say, wine choice is impeccable with the list exemplifying the very best Portuguese labels and those from around the globe. Service is prompt and discreet and besides enjoying world-class cuisine, diners are afforded truly breathtaking views of the River Tagus and the wider estuary.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Fifty Seconds Martin Berasategui offers a rare opportunity to savour Michelin-starred gastronomy served with the most impressive views of Lisbon's waterfront.

Paul's expert tip: Reservations are essential and dress code is smart casual.

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Meet 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...  More About Paul