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Dec 16, 2008 10:31 PM

Lisbon: Authentic and a good deal

This is my second time in Lisbon, and this time, I'd like to go authentic. I'm looking for good quality food that the locals would eat when they're looking for real Portuguese food, and at a good price. (I'm experiencing tasting menu fatigue.)

The first time, we went to Olivier, Pap Acorda, Cantinho do Bem Estar, Bonjardim, Verde Perto, Confeitaria Nacional, Chimarrao (Chiado), Picanha (Belem), Alentejo (Colombo), Antigua Confeitaria de Belem, and several small places that served fine, but not particularly Portuguese food.

Any suggestions ?

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  1. Were any of those places remarkable that you went previously? In particular, what did you think about Olivier?

    1 Reply
    1. re: mpierce64

      Olivier was amusing, but did not particularly stand out versus other tasting menus I've had.

      Pap Acorda was amusing for the waiter. We went early for lunch, so it was deserted. I liked the acorda, but the price was a bit steep for what it was.

      Cantinho do Bem Estar had an unbelievable wait, mostly tourists it seemed, who'd been attracted by the long lines (of other tourists who'd seen long lines of other tourists ... ?). I don't remember being terribly impressed by the food - not bad, but not worth the wait, a sentiment shared by a couple neighboring tables of tourists.

      Bonjardim's serving size for the chicken seemed smaller than I was expecting from all the other writeups.

      Verde Perto is very simple but pleasant. We went back several times, and got to know the proprietress, even though our Portuguese and her English were equally skimpy.

      Chimarrao - tons of meat and cheap, although a bit salty if you get the wrong slice. Yum. Will be back.

      Alentejo - mall food but pretty decently made. Some simple stews in large portions. It made me wonder what mall acorda would be like.

    2. Hi I live in Portugal and visit Lisbon every week so know the restaurant scene well. I have 3 favourite places for good traditional Portuguese food. O Conventual on Praça das Flores, has perfect ingredients cooked in traditional style in an intimate ambience. Solar dos Presuntos in the Restauradores area is a big place with a lively ambience and first class fish and seafood as well as good traditional dishes. A Charcutaria on Rua do Alecrim is the best place for authentic Alentejo cooking, faux rustic ambience with high quality food and service. These 3 all serve strictly traditional Portuguese food but they are not cheap - sadly, the cheaper places in Lisbon tendo to have low standards re ingredients, expect to pay around €50 pp. You could also try one of the modern Portuguese places such as Terreiro do Paço.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Makantudo

        i second your recommendation for Solar dos Presuntos. We visited Lisbon in September and took a large group there and the seafood dishes were amazing and the atmosphere is very lively. i described the experience and others on my blog at

        Oh, if you haven't done so already, be sure and try a plate of percebes while you are there. A strange but interesting delicacy of gooseneck barnacles!

      2. One of my very favorites is Stop (full name: Stop do Bairro) in Campo d'Ourique. You have to go there either very early or very late, because it is always packed and you cannot book a table. Some of the local people seem to eat there everyday, others come across the city on purpose for the consistently excellent food. The prices are probably about half of what Makantudo suggests, especially because any normal person of very good appetite will only require a half portion (sometimes they even do 1/4 portion!). The menus don't change much (although some things have special days, like "cabidela", chicken with its blood and loads of vinegar, that is on friday) but they are fairly big. If you want to try real Portuguese food, you can easily go there everyday and sample different dishes; you might like them or not, but you can be assured that they are very properly cooked. My favorite are "carne de porco à alentejana" (pork and clams, the very best I've ever had anywhere), arroz de tamboril (rice with monkfish) or arroz de marisco (you can chose between a more expensive version where the shrimp have been cleaned of the shells and a cheaper one) and "cabidela", which is becoming difficult to find. The starters that they will bring to the table are always excellent but, as usual in Portugal, are not free (so you should send them back if you are not interested). The desserts are also very traditional and good but, if you don't feel up to all the eggs and sugar, the (tropical) fruit salad is excellent. The NYT gives it five stars, BTW:

        Address: Rua Tenente Ferreira Durão, 55-A

        It closes on mondays, as any self-respecting traditional restaurant (fishermen don't fish on sundays, so... no fresh fish on mondays!)

        1. I also would recommend Bonjardim and Solar dos Presuntos in the Restauradores area for good home-style cooking. I've never tried Gambrinus however. The Casa do Alentejo is ok in terms of food, however the ambience and the architecture is fantastic. I can't think of any others along the Rua Portas de Santo Antão that I've tried.

          Here is the weblink for Solar dos Presuntos:

          Another simple and relatively cheap place that I like for grilled chicken or rabbit is called Forninho Saloio. It's located on a really cool, yet hidden, street (Travessa das Parreiras, nº 39) off the Avenida da Liberdade. I've gone there on Saturday's for lunch where tons of locals are waiting for tables.

          Nearby on the Rua da Fé is the Restaurante Esquina da Fé which has very good goat in red wine sauce that I've enjoyed numerous times. The ambience is very local too with a solid (and cheap) wine list. Like many places in Lisbon, I stumbled upon these two and have enjoyed solid meals on numerous occasions.

          One particular wine bar that I liked is Nectar Wine Bar on the Rua dos Douradores in the Baixa. I haven't tried the food, but my appetizers to go with several glasses of different wines from the Alentejo, Douro, Dão, etc. were very good. If you do go there at night, you might want to get a cab as it can be rather dark and desolate. I walked back to my place from there one evening without any trouble, but I probably should have hailed a taxi.

          I've also eaten at Via Graça (Graça) which has stunning views of the Castelo and Lisboa in general. The night that I ate there a representative from Sogrape, the largest wine producer in Portugal, was on hand and allowed us to try several wines free of charge along with a discount on a bottle. My venison stew with chestnuts was fantastic.

          I will be in Lisbon in mid-January and was thinking of trying the following places. Does anybody have any comments or suggestions on the following:

          Tagide (Chiado Area - Academia das Belas Artes
          )Tasquinha d'Adelaide (Ourique)
          Cervejaria Ramiro (Estefânia)
          João do Grão (Baixa)
          Nariz do Vinho Tinto (Lapa)

          Also, if anybody has any good recommendations for Coimbra, they would be much appreciated.

          1. I have not tried any of the restaurants you would like to try this time. I have heard good things about Tasquinha d'Adelaide, though. In the same area (Campo d'Ourique, like Stop), there is another great classic (not as expensive as Gambrinus but with the same kind of old timey service and the possibility to eat at the counter, or just sea food, for example), which is Coelho da Rocha, in the street of the same name. Among the very memorable things I have eaten there, I remember the biggest clams à Bulhão Pato that I have ever seen.