WHERE TO EAT
If you’re willing to hop on a ferry and take the short ride across the Tagus river, then Ponto Final is worth the trek. Walk 10 minutes from the ferry station along the river—where sprawling views of Lisbon await—and only stop when you come across a collection of bright yellow seats, tables, and umbrellas on the water’s edge. Grab one of those seats, perilously close to the water’s edge, and take it all in. The food is great—traditional Portuguese kicked up a notch—but it’s admittedly secondary to the setting, which is spectacular.
This wouldn’t be a Lisbon guide without including this seafood institution. Locals might tell you to steer clear since the place became a major tourist destination after appearing on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, but if you don’t, then you’re missing out. The freshest prawns, crabs, and clams await in a bustling old-world setting that oozes atmosphere and charm. Go during off hours to avoid serious lines.
If you’ve ever wanted to dine with a giant octopus hanging above your head, this is your spot. But the Gram-worthy installation is just the beginning. Ever since chef Kiko Martins' restaurant debuted a few years ago in Príncipe Real, it’s become one of the most popular spots in the city, which you’ll notice thanks to the crowds spilling onto the streets, waiting for their table while sipping on Pisco sours. Inside, the place is small and cozy, with a crescent bar taking much of the space, where diners are feasting on the restaurant’s namesake dish of which there are several varieties. But the star of the show is the classic ceviche: white fish, puréed sweet potato, onions, seaweed, and tiger's milk. It’s revelatory.
Taberna da Rua das Flores
Full disclosure: When we tried to go to this narrow, dimly lit, exceedingly romantic restaurant hidden away on a quiet side street, the hostess kindly informed us that by the time a table became available for us, they would be closed. Bummer, because the Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato (clams in a garlic and butter sauce) that everyone was enjoying looked on point. If we ever came back to Lisbon, this charming, transportive spot would be first on our list.
Cantinho do Avillez
It would be sacrilege to write a Lisbon city guide without including one of Jose Avillez’s restaurants, who is basically the city’s Mario Batali. This is his first, most accessible restaurant and the one that put him on the map. (Avillez is also behind fine dining institution Belcanto, considered by many to be the best restaurant in the country.) The decor is simple and welcoming, which matches the food, traditional Portuguese fare like steak sandwiches, flaked cod, and Algarve octopus, all elevated with Avillez’s trademark flare.
Solar Dos Presuntos
Walking into this seafood mecca, you’ll be struck by two things: an awe-inspiring raw (and alive) seafood on display, and the walls adorned with photos of every damn celebrity that’s ever visited the place (there are a lot). The multi-story restaurant is great for groups, and the seafood is prepared extremely traditionally and is of the highest quality. Melt-in-your-mouth Galician-style octopus is transcendent, the cod cakes are perfectly fluffy, and the lobster is the best you'll find anywhere. Be warned, the place is loud and always packed.