The culinary scene in Lisbon is heavy on fresh fish, meats, and plenty of wine. Dig in.
1300 Taberna: This industrial-style dining room in a mid-19th-century factory turned hipster shopping complex specializes in updated Portuguese comfort dishes. Order the hearty caldo verde (potato and kale soup), followed by the grilled sea bass with crab rice. $$
Alma, Henrique Sá Pessoa: The food at the sleek, white-on-white Alma is light and sophisticated, with a well-assembled, all-Portuguese wine list. Choose from traditional plates, such as fish stew with lemongrass and ginger, or French classics with a twist—the duck confit with cilantro pappardelle and spicy tomato sauce is a crowd-pleaser. $$$
A Travessa: An outpost of this Portuguese standby opened next door to the Fado Museum, but the 34-year-old original, in the arcade of a 17th-century convent in Lapa, remains a favorite. The savory appetizers (try the fluffy scrambled eggs mixed with wild mushrooms) are meals unto themselves. $$$
Belcanto: After putting in kitchen time with Ferran Adrià, Alain Ducasse, and Eric Frechon, chef José Avillez (see Local Take) has made his culinary flagship undeniably the finest restaurant in town. The inventive menu has hints of molecular gastronomy and may include goose barnacle or suckling pig topped with orange-peel purée. $$$$
Sea Me: You can’t go wrong with the tender roasted-sardine sushi at Sea Me, a laid-back seafood joint in Chiado. Check the sign at the in-house market near the open kitchen for the list of catches of the day. $$
Churrasco Da Graça: The Portuguese are master grillers. This family-friendly hole-in-the-wall in Graça may not look like much, but the simply prepared chicken and fresh fish more than make up for it. 43 Largo da Graça; 351/218-860-547. $$
Zé Varunca: Sausage, potatoes, and grilled black pork (the cuts poetically named secretos and plumas are the best) pair with regional reds at Zé Varunca, an unassuming tavern off Avenida da Liberdade. $$
A Wine Tour of Lisbon
Portugal’s table wine (vinho de mesa) is rich and complex, not to mention an incredible value.
For a free lecture and mini-tasting, go to Wines of Portugal, on the western end of Terreiro do Paço in Baixa.
Get a deeper immersion at the homey Wine Bar do Castelo (351/218-879-093), where servers will walk you through more than 100 choices.
Try some of the almost 300 varieties (more than 50 by the glass) at Old Pharmacy Wine Inn (351/213-473-034), in a renovated turn-of-the-century shop.
Baixa’s Garrafeira Nacional has one ofthe city’s widest selections of bottles.
Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150