Thanks to a new generation of chefs, Portuguese menu is renewed with an interesting set of new restaurants in an unforgettable city.
By J.M. Towers
In recent years, the once predictable and conventional Lisbon cuisine— still carrying the heavy burden of an excessively traditional approach— has changed to lead the innovations in Portugal's gastronomic panorama.
Thanks to the advent of a new generation of chefs, the Portuguese menu is renewed with an impressive set of new restaurants, adding, even more, charm and prestige to the beautiful capital of this Iberian country.
We would like to guide you through Lisbon—a city crossed by the gentle Tejo river—to help you discover a delicious cuisine enhanced by a touch of creativity.
Our gastronomic journey begins at one of the best restaurants in town: Belcanto, led by the star of Portuguese cuisine, Chef José Avillez.
Alongside his talented team, Avillez believes that haute cuisine is an art form that must fuse inspirations, emotions and respectc for the product. His artfully presented dishes—made with seasonal organic ingredients—are the hallmark of this restaurant with two Michelin stars. Meals are distributed into two suggestive tasting menus.
The unique style of José Avillez is aimed at a young and cosmopolitan clientele, eager to experience new culinary offerings. Gourmands should also visit his other restaurants: Cantinho do Avillez, Mini Bar Pizzeria, and the Café Lisboa.
At Alma restaurant, located at number 15 of Rua Anchieta in the heart of Chiado, Chef Henrique Sá Pessoa—one of the great innovators of the new Portuguese gastronomy— offers an imaginative cuisine, but always respecting the original product.
He prepares delicious dishes like cod fillet with mashed beans and vinaigrette, tempura anchovies, and sundried tomatoes, or the beef steak with grilled vegetables, eggplant caviar, watercress salad and polenta with olives. The restaurant’s wine list boasts some of the best Portuguese wines.
A mandatory stop on this culinary sojourn is Peixaria da Esquina, under the direction of Vitor Sobral— one of the country’s most famous chefs. Sobral has published a dozen cookbooks and is an inspiration to a new generation of cooks.
The chef handles seafood with a touch of modernity featuring unusual combinations of sweet and spicy elements. The turbot marinated with olive oil, lemon, sea salt, chili, blueberries and tomato confit is simply unforgettable.
Casa de Pasto Restaurant belongs to Diogo Noronha, the enfant terrible of Portuguese cuisine, who, after spending several years in the US working closely with Chef Thomas Keller, returned to Lisbon to become a champion of modernity with a risky and innovative approach that goes beyond the traditional limits.
His style is evident in dishes that—at first sight—look messy but have incredible flavors, such as chickpeas with beef, baked for over ten hours and served with yogurt, eggplant jam, almonds and candied lemon. The restaurant decor—campy and unexpected—gives us the impression that—at any moment—film director Pedro Almodóvar will come out shouting: Action!
Finally, I’d like to recommend a place seriously focused on wine—although it also serves excellent food. It is The Sommelier Lisbon Restaurant, a bold and innovative project in the city center—opened in 2014—which offers haute cuisine as well as the possibility to test eighty of the best Portuguese wines by the glass. ■
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