I recently traveled to Lisbon for the first time. Since it was my first visit and we only had 24 hours before boarding our cruise ship, I contacted the hotel where we were staying, Pousada de Lisboa, to arrange a tour guide and for a recommendation on a restaurant for the evening. Sergio Machadinha, in reception, was quick to respond and most helpful. You can read about our wonderful guide and tour of Lisbon in the article 24 Hours in Lisbon. He also sent along a list of 7 highly rated restaurants with the hotel’s Lisboeta at the top. I booked our reservation at Lisboeta and anticipated dining at what I hoped would be the best restaurant in Lisbon.
One usually doesn’t find the best restaurants in hotels, however, Lisboeta does have the advantage of not being located in just any hotel but the beautifully restored historic Pousada de Lisboa, in the heart of Praça do Comércio. It also helps that the restaurant is located on the first floor and somewhat separated from the hotel. In other words, you don’t feel like you are dining in a hotel.
In search of the best restaurant in Lisbon, Chef Tiago Bonito did not disappoint. We had a choice of a chef’s tasting menu or an a la carte menu. We chose the the tasting menu and added the wine pairing, which I would highly recommend. We wanted to sample as many Portuguese dishes and wines as we could in our very short time there. And sample we did. Every dish was exquisite and the presentations were the most interesting and innovative I’ve seen anywhere.
Our sommelier chose the perfect wines to complement every course and if a glass was emptied before the next course was served, the wine glass was filled posthaste (most unusual with wine parings as the price is set).
Our tasting menu was as follows:
Chef’s starter of squid served on a river rock
Chef’s gardens, vegetables, herbs, flowers. granola crumble and cheese foam
Giant red shrimp from Sagres, olive from Alentejo, “mao de buda” lemon and olive oil
Skate from Peniche, barnacles, sweet potato from Aljezur, pepper and foie-gras from the sea sauce
Milk-fed lamb ballotine, confit potato in saffron, carrot, spinach and Madeira wine sauce
Rhubarb cold soup, mascarpone ice cream, pistachio, “tonka” bean from Amazonia
We thoroughly enjoyed every course but a favorite was the red shrimp from Sagres. The shrimp was so delicious I could have stopped right there and ordered a dozen more shrimp but glad I didn’t. The skate was delicately prepared and the lamb was fork tender. Fortunately the portions are small and we still had room to enjoy the pre-dessert of rhubarb cold soup and mascarpone ice cream, followed by the traditional and delicious Portuguese custard tart.
Is Lisboeta the best restaurant in Lisbon? Not having tried any other restaurants in Lisbon, I can’t definitively say it is indeed the best but what I can say is Lisboeta is one of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at anywhere in my travels around the world. So put Lisbon on your list (fabulous city) and make a reservation at Lisboeta.