Lisbon might not be known as a fine-dining destination, but a group of groundbreaking chefs are ushering in a new era of ambitious cooking. Showcasing the unbelievable ingredients Portugal has to offer, including fresh seafood and porco preto pork from Alentejo, these restaurants blend Portuguese traditions with inspiration drawn from across the globe. Menus run from 40€ to 165€, which means even the most splurge-worthy meals in Lisbon still won’t blow your budget.
In Belém — Lisbon’s most touristy neighborhood — one Michelin-starred Feitoria celebrates Portuguese culture, history, and flavors along the waterfront. Located inside Hotel Altis Belém, the dining room overlooks the river and the hotel’s garden. Chef João Rodrigues takes full advantage of the Portuguese coast and the central Alentejo plains, where the local black pigs run freely. Showcasing ingredients extends to the dining room — if you order the massive cuttlefish, it will be brought to your table before it’s cooked. The star of the night is the scarlet shrimp: The finished dish is lightly grilled, with a sauce that you’ll want to scrape off your plate.
At 40 years old, João Rodrigues has been cooking for over 20 years and serves as a mentor for many of Lisbon’s other high-end chefs. At Feitoria, you can choose between three tasting menus: Two menus, Matéria, feature four or six courses (105€, 135€), or opt for the all-vegetarian menu called Terra (85€). Reservations should be made a month in advance through the website or by phone. (Doca do Bom Sucesso | +35 (1)2 10 40 02 08 | restaurantefeitoria.com)
Located in a historic men’s club, Belcanto is an upscale restaurant with an intimate vibe. The restaurant pioneered modern, globally influenced fine dining in Lisbon when it opened in 2012, and it holds two Michelin stars, the first restaurant to achieve that rating in the city. It is the most high-end restaurant in chef José Avillez’s ever-expanding restaurant empire, which includes the more casual Cantinho do Avillez and the massive, food hall-esque Bairro do Avillez.
At Belcanto, chef David Jesus leads a team cooking internationally inspired cuisine with defined Spanish and Portuguese influences. Signature dishes include “the garden of the goose that laid the golden eggs,” where an edible gold leaf hides a slow-cooked egg, and the “sip in the sea,” which includes sea bass, seaweed, and shellfish.
Belcanto has three tasting menus. The cheapest one — Menu Lisboa — costs 125€ and has six dishes. The most expensive is the Evolution Menu (165€) and the number of dishes is a surprise. Belcanto has a waitlist, so be sure to book at least two months in advance. (Largo de São Carlos 10 | +35 (1)2 13 42 06 07 | Belcanto.pt/en/)
Fortaleza do Guincho
Just 30 minutes away by car, Fortaleza do Guincho near Cascais has the most dramatic location of any fine-dining restaurant in the Lisbon area. Located inside a former waterfront fortress, the dining room overlooks Guincho beach and the distant Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of the European mainland.
Chef Miguel Rocha Vieira was the first Portuguese chef to earn three Michelin stars when he ran the kitchen at Costes in Budapest. In 2015, Rocha Vieira returned to his home country, and maintained Fortaleza do Guincho’s one Michelin star rating, while still operating two other locations in Hungary.
Outside the restaurant, surfers catch waves along the beach. Inside, the menu incorporates ingredients and objects foraged from the coast, including fennel and shells, and the focus here is obviously seafood. Fortaleza has three different tasting menus with four to six dishes, with prices ranging from 95€ to 135€. It’s relatively easy to get a table with short notice. Estrada do Guincho, Cascais | +35 (1)2 14 87 04 91 | fortalezadoguincho.com
Lisbon’s LX Factory, a massive converted industrial complex located between Belém and Chiado, is a dynamic hub of food, shopping, and office spaces in the center of the city. 1300 Taberna opened as part of the first wave of shops in the complex. In a stylish room decked out in huge chandeliers and vintage furniture, chef Nuno Barros serves a well-executed menu of Portuguese and Spanish-influenced dishes.
Must-order items include the sea bass with vegetables cooked in Bulhão Pato (a traditional Portuguese broth made with clams, garlic, and cilantro) or the charcoal-grilled black pork. There is also a tasting menu with five courses for 40€ (without drinks). But the move is to order a la carte either at lunch or dinner, which runs an average of 30-35€ per person. Book in advance for Friday or Saturday night. R. Rodrigues de Faria 103 | +35 (1)2 13 64 91 70
Restaurant Alma used to be located in Madragoa, where they served a relatively affordable tasting menu in an all-white room. But chef Henrique Sá Pessoa — a TV celebrity in Portugal — wanted to return to fine dining.
In 2015, he moved the restaurant to the street behind Belcanto in Chiado, and set up shop in an entirely new kind of space: a wood-lined dining room in a refurbished building from the 18th century. The year after the big makeover, Alma won its first Michelin star.
The much more elaborate tasting menu focuses on Portuguese and Spanish-influenced dishes. Alma now has four tasting menus, ranging between three and five dishes: Caminhos (80€), Origens (80€), Alma (100€), and Costa a Costa (100€). The latter is focused on the Portuguese coast and features mackerel, octopus, red sea bass, and monkfish. This is another special occasion dinner that’s relatively easy to book at the last minute. R. Anchieta 15 | +35 (1)2 13 47 06 50 | almalisboa.pt
Miguel Andrade is food writer, researcher, and chef-connector based in Lisbon.
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