Richard’s 2018 Restaurant Reviews in Lisbon and Beyond
The restaurant scene in Lisbon is getting more interesting and exciting year by year. The best chefs offer Portuguese interpretations of the innovative techniques and ingredient combinations that are shared by top restaurants throughout Europe and North America. Asian and Latin American influences also are becoming stronger in Portugal. In 2018 poké appeared on various menus and ceviche became even more omnipresent. This country both benefits from and contributes to the international flow of ideas about cooking.
What follows are my evaluations of the places where we ate during our months of living in Lisbon from 2012 through 2018 grouped into categories. I hope you will find this helpful if you travel to Lisbon, and that you will add your impressions of these and other Lisbon eateries in the comment section. When we return to Lisbon we will try your suggestions and incorporate them into the next edition of this listing.
Innovative restaurants (these seek to combine Portuguese ingredients and recipes with international contemporary cooking techniques and sensibilities):
Belcanto (Largo de São Carlos 10; phone 213-420-607). This is Lisbon’s most interesting and successful effort at molecular cuisine, making use of first class ingredients. Chef Jose Avillez richly deserves his two Michelin star rating. The menu is frequently updated, reflecting Avillez’s continuing experimentation.
Taberna Fina (Praca de Luis de Camoes 22- note the restaurant is one flight up from the reception of the Consulat Hotel. Phone 938-596-429; [email protected]). The 56-euro tasting menu at this restaurant is a dramatic leap forward for Andre Magalhães, the longtime chef of Taberna da Rua das Flores (the next entry). The dishes ranged from excellent to outstanding and were intelligently paired with interesting wines for each course (an additional 26 or 46 euros depending on whether you pick the regular or deluxe pairing). Many of the dishes were mainly vegetable with meat accents, like a wonderful slightly cooked carrot with ham shavings and celery root in three forms paired with a small piece of cod. Both the pork and veal dishes combined delicate sauces that accented the deeply flavorful meats. Desserts were fun and restrained at the same time. This is among the very best restaurants in Lisbon now, with polished service in a beautiful setting.
Taberna da Rua das Flores (Rua das Flores 103) has a double identity. From noon to 4 pm it is a pleasant, well-located restaurant that specializes in fresh fish. The dishes are mainly traditional and simply prepared. Starting at 4 pm it morphs into an innovative restaurant that serves small plates of uniformly high quality. Their marquee dish of mackerel with seaweed is outstanding as were a soft shell crab bao and an oyster tartare. Their meat dishes are very good as well. The prices are amazingly low, 9 to 15 euros for each small plate. Their wines also are inexpensive. Note that this restaurant does not take reservations and only accepts cash. The wait for a table in the evening can be 1 to 2 hours and by 7 or 8 pm they often stop taking names for their waiting list that night. Time your evening accordingly.
100 Maneiras (café at: Largo da Trindade 9; restaurant at: Rua do Teixeira 35; phone for both: 910-307-575 http://100maneiras.com). They have both a café and a restaurant with a single tasting menu. The restaurant’s tasting menu at 60 euros is a bargain for a meal of this quality. The dishes are inventive and use top quality ingredients. We were especially impressed with a cuttlefish cappuccino and a flash fried prawn with a delicate curry sauce. They are highly skilled in their use of foams and combinations of multiple sauces in a single dish. The 2018 menu we ate was almost identical to that of 2017, but of equally high quality. The wine tasting of entirely Portuguese wines offered with the meal is reasonably priced at 30 euros. The service is highly professional and friendly at the same time.
The café menu has an excellent variety of interesting dishes, well prepared, although price increases mean the café is no longer a bargain. Their tartars and fish and seafood capriccios are excellent. In addition to their regular menu, they often (though less than in past years) have delicious specials, some of which make good use of various seaweeds for broths or as accompaniments to fish.
Mini Bar (Rua Antonio Maria Cardoso 58; phone 211-305-393). Another restaurant from Jose Avillez, and next to Belcanto his best in Lisbon. He offers 39- and 48-euro tasting menus, but there also is a fabulous a la carte selection too. The prices are a bargain for cooking with this level of technical sophistication. This restaurant is a way to taste Avillez’s molecular dishes without committing to a set multi-course tasting menu, currently 125 or 165 euros, at Belcanto. Mini Bar offers some of his classics, like his exploding olives, along with new dishes. I was especially impressed with his “Ferrero Roche,” small bites that look like the candy but instead are a flavorful liver mousse surrounded by nuts, a low temperature poached egg with parmesan, prawns with a ceviche-style sauce, and wonderful barely cooked scallops with Thai seasonings. There also are excellent meat dishes, and fun desserts. The wine selection is very good and well priced, and they offer innovative cocktails.
Casa de Pasto (Rua de São Paulo, 20; phone: 213-471-397 or reserve at [email protected]). Interesting takes on traditional Portuguese food. Their razor clam soup is wonderful and other dishes were delightful and tasty. Prices are a steal for food of this quality. Their 25-euro tasting menu is an amazing bargain and unlike most such multicourse meals the portions are modest enough that you leave feeling satisfied rather than full to bursting. They showcase excellent wines from new Portuguese producers and have opened a wine bar on the ground floor with a small but well-chosen selection of Portuguese wines, available both for drinking there and at their outside tables and to take away; the restaurant is one flight up. Their plans to create a boutique hotel on the upper floors have still not been realized as of 2018. Service is friendly and professional, and the restaurant has a hip design, with perhaps the most fanciful looking bathrooms I’ve seen in a restaurant anywhere in the world. Hipster and Trendsetter approve.
A Cevicheria (Rua dom Pedro V 129; phone 218-038-815). Excellent super fresh fish and seafood is used to make ceviches with combinations that are interesting, tasty and different from the standards found in many cities around the world. Their prawn gazpacho with tapioca is a great starter. I especially was impressed by a dish called Sea Quinoto in which quinoa that is deeply flavored with seafood broth is combined with various shellfish. The chef, Kiko Martins, also at times makes off the menu specials (that may then find themselves on the menu later). I especially enjoyed a plain white fish ceviche enlivened with chestnut cream and a powerful truffle oil. Note: A Cevicheria does not take reservations and there can be long waits at dinnertime and on weekends.
O Asiático (Rua da Rosa 317; phone: 211-319-369). From Kiko Martins, the same chef as A Cevicheria, this is an outstanding addition to Lisbon’s restaurant scene. The setting is beautiful, with garden seating as well. From the short but changing menu, we loved the horse mackerel sashimi with tiny dabs of horseradish and light jellies on top of delicate macarons, Pani Puri (thin, light crusts surrounding salmon tartare with tamarind), an amazing raw scallop appetizer in a bracing complex broth, two different ceviches- a Thai and a Laotian, a tasty barbeque octopus with a mix of vegetables in a fusion Chinese-Portuguese sauce, and a deeply flavorful cooked turbot with bits of pork belly skin, seaweed and thin strings of calamari and tiny bivalves in another wonderful sauce. Service is professional. The menu changes frequently; about half the dishes on the menu in 2018 weren’t there the previous year.
O Watt (Avenida 24 de Julho nº12; phone 351-211-369-504), another restaurant from Kiko Martins, is on the ground floor of the electric company’s office building. The space is beautiful. The menu draws on some of the best dishes from Martins’ other restaurants with a few special to O Watt, like a delicious shrimp with Indian spices cooked in a banana leaf.
Bairro do Avillez (Rua Nova da Trindade, 18; phone: 351-215-830-290). The newest José Avillez restaurant has expanded into three sections, each with its own menu. The two new ones, Pateo and Cantina Peruana, are excellent while the original section, the Taberna, is the least impressive.
Páteo specializes in seafood and serves the best version of seafood rice I’ve ever eaten. The rice was perfectly cooked, the fish tasty, and the broth incredible. Páteo also has an excellent array of seafood cooked in a variety of ways. The service is somewhat amateurish.
In the back on a balcony overlooking Páteo is Cantina Peruana, with a menu developed by Diego Muñoz, an acclaimed chef from Peru who left his restaurant Astrid y Gaston in Lima to open a series of restaurants in Copenhagan, Miami, Bali, and now Lisbon. The ceviches and tirados are delicious and original. The octopus tentacles are excellent as are the various classic and unusual pisco cocktails.
Cantinho do Avillez (Rua dos Duques de Braganca 7; phone: 351-211-992-369; and also at Rua Bojador, 55; phone: 351-218-700-365). An informal restaurant from José Avillez, the chef of the wonderful Belcanto. The menu is meat-heavy, but the appetizers and fish dishes are tastier.
Chefe Cordeiro (Praca Comercio 20/23; phone 216-080-090) A less formal restaurant from the chef José Cordeiro of Feitori, which has a Michelin star. The food at this restaurant is pleasant but far from Michelin quality. The room is gorgeous and has a view of the beautiful Praça do Comercio. If you want to eat on the Praça this is the place to go, but it is not a destination.
Gastro Bar by Eleven (Rua da Misericordia 78; phone 919-835-036). A stylish bar with unique and unusual cocktails and a small but delicious menu. Their egg yolk ravioli with creamy mushrooms, nori seaweed and truffle oil is addictive. Shrimp gratin gnocchi were excellent and a cold cantaloupe soup with shrimp and mint was tasty. A creamy corn porridge with clams and coriander was bland. They also have a ceviche and various meat dishes. Their desserts are nice but nothing special. Prices are somewhat higher than comparable Lisbon restaurants. Service is very friendly.
Infame (in Hotel 1908 Lisboa, Largo do Intendente Pina Manique n.6, Arroios, phone 218-804-008, https://infame.pt/en.html). A beautiful space near the Infame metro stop. The food is uneven. “Shrimply the best” is an excellent starter with a wonderful coriander sauce. Main courses were heavier on the protein with less exciting sauces.
Cafe Lisboa Largo de S. Carlos, nº23; phone: 211 914 498) A bistro with Portuguese influence from José Avillez, the chef of the wonderful Belcanto. The café has a room inside the theater and also tables in the plaza in front of the Sao Carlos Theater, a beautiful setting for tasty food.
Tágide Restaurant and Wine and Tapas Bar (Largo da Academia Nacional de Belas Artes 18 and 20, Chiado; phone 213-404-010, restaurantetagide.com; closed Sundays. This restaurant has beautiful views of the river, the Cathedral, and Castelo St. Jorge. The restaurant is an elegant setting. Their soups and appetizers are especially good; the main courses are fine but less inspired. Their lobster bisque is wonderfully tasty and aromatic, and the broth that accompanies their clam appetizer is one of the most flavorful I have had anywhere in the world. The Wine and Tapas Bar also has good dishes: the tapas are excellent. Soups are wonderful, and I especially enjoyed their Mozambique Tiger Prawns with seafood and herbs ‘Açorda’. The selection of wines in both the restaurant and tapas bar is very good. Be aware, the tapas bar is very noisy in the evening but much quieter for lunch.
Decadente (Rua de São Pedro de Alcantara 81, Bairro Alto, phone 213-461-381, theindependente.pt). A fun but noisy restaurant. The décor and waiters have adopted the Brooklyn look. The service unfortunately is very inattentive. The appetizers were interesting but somewhat lacking in flavor. The main courses were tastier, and dessert excellent. Prices are extremely reasonable. A good, but not great addition to Lisbon’s food scene.
Pharmacia (rua Marechal Saldanha 1; phone 213 462 146). A beautiful funky room inside the Museum of Pharmacy furnished with tables and other antique hospital equipment. The 28 euros tasting menu is a steal and the a la carte menu also is a bargain. The tapas portions are almost entree sized and most are 10 euros or under. Dishes are traditional Portuguese reimagined with contemporary techniques. Not all the dishes are successes, but overall a meal here is fun, with friendly service and great views of the Santa Catarina miradouro. The majority of dinners were locals when we ate there.
XL (Calcada da Estrela 57; phone 213-956-118) This elegant restaurant with excellent service sits across from the National Assembly. The style and menu seem designed to appeal to legislators and lobbyists, with many old-style, French-influenced dishes. Their savory soufflés are expertly prepared. The fish soufflé was light and the mainly egg filling was perfectly fluffy, but it also was almost tasteless. Their fried egg with foie gras sauce is wonderful, while their foie gras on brioche with a sherry sauce was less interesting.
1300 Taverna (Rua Rodrigues de Faria 103; phone 213-649-170) Located in LX Factory, a fun complex of stores and restaurants. Beautiful décor but mediocre food. A better and much less expensive choice in LX Factory is Malaca Too (phone 967-104-142) with a Pan-Asian menu. Their curries are especially good.
Seafood restaurants (these take advantage of Portugal’s outstanding fish and seafood):
Peixeria da Esquina (Rua Correia Teles, 56; phone 213-874-644; peixeriadaesquina.com). This restaurant reworked its menu and redesigned its space. It now is less a neighborhood place and instead appeals to the international audience they have attracted thanks to recognition by travel magazines, newspapers, and blogs (like this one). In addition to their always excellent super-fresh seafood and whole fish, they have added marinated fish appetizers that are tasty. Their “prepared edible crab” appetizer remains outstanding. Their shrimp soup has a richly flavorful stock with tasty fresh shrimp. This chef also runs Balção da Esquina in the Time Out Market and Tasca da Esquina at Rua Domingos Sequeira 41 C nearby.
Largo (Rua Serpa Pinto, 10A; phone 213-477-225) An excellent seafood restaurant with always-fresh ingredients carefully prepared. Their fish and seafood soup is outstanding. Main courses are more traditional, well-prepared but sometimes boring. The restaurant is in a beautiful space and the service is friendly if not entirely polished.
Gambrinus (Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 23; phone 213-421- 466) Fresh seafood, good service, very old style in preparation, e.g. Crepes Suzette made at tableside.
Ramiro (Av. Almirante Reis nº1; phone 218-851-024) fresh seafood, but way overcooked. This restaurant has a place on many Top 10 Lisbon lists and often has a line out the door, but its reputation is totally undeserved.
SeaMe (Rua do Loreto 21; phone 213-461-564) serves fresh seafood with bland preparations at prices significantly higher than the better restaurants noted above.
Lisboa à Noite (Rua das Gáveas 69/71; phone 213-468-557)
Fresh seafood, boring preparations.
Time Out Mercado da Ribeira (Avenida 24 de Julho, Cais do Sodré). Half of the building housing the old food market remains a series of stalls with fish, meat, produce and flowers open only in daytime. The other half has been turned into a market with stands from a variety of Lisbon restaurateurs. Some are famous and mediocre such as the steaks and steak sandwiches at Café de São Bento and the ice cream of Santini. Others are very good: the black (squid ink) rice with scallops and seaweed of Alexandre Silve, the fish carpaccio of Henrique Sá Passoa, and the tartars, both fish and meat, at Tartar-Ia. (The wonderful fish soup of Cozinha da Felicidade went off the menu in May 2016 and still has not returned). The small dishes of Marlene Vieira are good but not great. There also are stands where you can get cheeses, cured meats, cookies, chocolates, and more to eat there or to go. In any case, it is a fun experience to see and taste multiple small dishes and to see the crowds of happy local and foreign eaters and drinkers. At the most crowded times it can be difficult to find a seat and too many of the patrons hog seats or hold them for friends arriving later. The stands then are overwhelmed and it can take 20+ minutes to get your food and sometimes the preparation is rushed and sloppy. For example, the peixinos (Portuguese tempura) at Marlene Vieira were overly doughy and therefore almost tasteless. The market is open 7 days a week: from 10am to midnight (Sunday to Wednesday), and 10am to 2am (Thursday to Saturday).
Gourmet Experience (El Corte Inglés, 7th Floor, Av. António Augusto de Aguiar 31) opens at 10 am daily and closes at 11 each day except Fridays and Saturdays when it is open to midnight This is a wonderful addition to Lisbon. It is less crowded and much quieter than the Time Out market and the food is of higher quality. This market has gathered stands and restaurants planned by some of Lisbon’s top chefs. The best is Kiko Martins’ O Poké. His pokés are very fresh, lightly marinated fish with interesting vegetable-based sauces. They are served without the mound of bland rice that forms the base of most poké in the US. Jose Avillez’s Tasca Chic is uninspired. Atlántico served delicious fresh fish and seafood simply prepared. Henrique Sá Pessoa’s Balção has very good fish and mediocre meat dishes. Imanol specializes in Basque-style tapas that are decent but nothing special. Cascabel is Mexican food with a Portuguese twist. If you are dying for Mexican food in Lisbon go here, but don’t expect quality that equals the best in Mexico or the US. Nanarella, the best ice cream maker in Lisbon, has a stand here. This is a way to avoid the often-long lines at their original store. There also is a branch of Alcoa, the mediocre Portuguese pastry shop, and of Landeau, which serves only their excellent chocolate cake.
Palácio Chiado (Rua Alecrim 70; 351-21-010-1184) palaciochiado.pt. noon to midnight 7 days.
This 2017 addition to the Lisbon dining scene is set in a beautiful rehabilitated eighteenth century palace. None of the food is groundbreaking, but most of it is very good. Downstairs you can order from a diverse menu of meat, including an excellent beef tartare, fresh oysters, and various prepared fish dishes. There is a codfish section with the usual old style dishes, boring but well prepared. In a nod to the new US fad there is poke, with an especially good vegetarian poke along with fish ones. The ice-cream stand is very good. Upstairs are two sit-down restaurants: one for cheese and charcuterie and the other for Italian food. Both are standard and good.
Tapas (less formal restaurants that are best for small dishes
Tapisco (Rua D. Pedro V, 81; phone 213-420-681) is in an elegant room but the food, even though the menu was developed by local celebrity chef Henrique Sá Pessoa, is mediocre at best. What the menu called grilled vegetables with romesco sauce were boiled vegetables. The patatas bravas were covered with what tasted like bottled barbeque sauce from an American supermarket. Fried cuttlefish were bland but at least not overcooked. Preserved fish roe with a pepper vinaigrette sauce was ok. This restaurant cannot be recommended unless you want to know what the food at a Spanish summer camp might taste like.
Chafariz do Vinho (Rua da Mãe de Água; phone 213-422-079) beautiful space with good wine and ok tapas
Antigo 1 de Maio (Rua da Atalaia 8; phone 213-426-840). Traditional Portuguese dishes, extremely friendly service in a pretty room. Prices are very reasonable.
Zaafran (Largo Dona Estefânia, nº7; Metro Picoas; phone 213-558-894). Closed Sundays. This would be a top Indian restaurant in any US or European city, and well-regarded in London. The owners are Indians who lived in Mozambique, and there are subtle African elements in some of the dishes. Be aware: Thursday nights they have belly dancing and a set menu.
Delicias de Goa (Rua Conde Redondo, 2a; phone 961-491-521). Goa was Portugal’s colony in India and this restaurant presents delicious renditions of Goan dishes, featuring extremely fresh seafood. Goan spices are somewhat different from those you will find in most Indian restaurants in the US or Europe, so this is an opportunity to taste dishes that are hard to find beyond Goa. Note: this restaurant does not accept credit cards; you must pay in cash.
Pizzaria Lisboa (Rua dos Duques de Braganca 5H; 1200-162 Lisboa; phone 351-211-554-945). A pizza restaurant from star chef Jose Avillez. The best pizza I’ve found in Lisbon. The crusts are good but not outstanding, but the toppings are varied and excellent. There are more than twenty choices. I especially liked the one topped with truffled mortadella and the mushroom.
Casanova (Av. Infante D. Henrique 7 Loja B; phone 218-877-532) good pizza. This place is very popular and most evening there is a line, but the many tables and fast service usually keeps waits to under 30 minutes.
Cais da Pedra (Av. Infante Dom Henrique, Cais da Pedra. Armazem B, Loja 9; phone 932-561-522). The gourmet hamburger craze has hit Lisbon. This is a worthy entry, with a variety of toppings and relishes, an excellent veggie burger, and large portions for the price. A beautiful riverside location.
O Prego da Peixaria, owned by the proprietors of SeaMe, has multiple locations in Lisbon, including Rua da Escola Politecnica 40. Their fish and seafood burgers are very good. We specially liked the salmon with squid and seaweed and the shrimp. They also serve beef burgers. Their appetizers were almost tasteless.
Nannarella (Rua Nova da Piedade 64; phone 916-302-201; open noon to 7:30 pm every day except Sunday; the also have a stand in Gourmet Experience — see above). The best ice cream in Lisbon. Their chocolate ice cream is outstanding, rich with just the right touch of bitterness to cut the heavy creaminess. The cream overwhelms the fruit flavors, but mint, amaretto, and other non-fruit flavors and sorbets are excellent.
Sorbettino (Rua da Mesericordia 23) This new addition to Lisbon opened in May 2017. They make only sorbets, no ice cream. Their sorbets are world class, as good as Nannarella’s. The fruit flavors are not overly sweet and have powerful fruit flavor. Their dark chocolate sorbet is fabulous.
Artisani (various locations in Lisbon and also in Cascais). Rich, flavorful ice cream, almost as good as Nannarella.
Fragoleto (Rua da Prata 61; phone: 213-479-472; open noon to 8pm daily). Numerous flavors with original combinations, all made with organic ingredients only. Unfortunately, the flavors often are weak. Quality is less than Nannarella or the multi-location Artisani.
Santini (various locations in Lisbon). This is the well-known ice cream place. They are good but their ice cream is clearly several notches below Nannarella and Artisani, and their sorbets seem to decline significantly in quality year by year.
Mu (Campo Marties de Patria, 50). Mu has improved its offerings by hiring a new ice cream maker. They now are on the level of Santini. Their most interesting flavor is kiwi-banana.
Claudio Corallo Chocolate (Rua Cecílio de Sousa 85; phone 213-862-158). Outstanding hot chocolate (a bargain at 1 Euro for a small cup) and excellent chocolates, albeit at high prices, now 90 euros a kilo, $55 a pound.
Chocolataria Equador (Rua da Misericordia 72; phone 213-471-229). Dark, milk and white chocolates with a variety of flavorings from fruits to curry. As good as Claudio Corallo but at half the price.
Nata: the best Pastel de Nata is from a store simply named Nata. They have a shop near São Jorge castle in Lisbon, in numerous other locations in Portugal, elsewhere in Europe and in the United Arab Emirates. They also serve soups, salads and sandwiches, which makes Nata a reasonably priced and reliable lunch spot. You can find the addresses and hours of their shops at https://www.natalisboa.com/moradas-pt.
Lisbon’s selection of French pastries has suffered from two significant losses: Poison d’Amour near Principe Real and the downtown branch of the Paris-based but now international mini-chain of Eric Kayser bakeries have both closed. (There still is an Eric Kayser in Amoreiras and a stand in the basement of El Corte Ingles.)
Tartine (Rua Serpa Pinto 15A) is a good, but not great, French bakery. Alcoa, which opened in 2017 (Rua Garrett 37 and now also is in Gourmet Experience), has French and Portuguese pastries and like Tartine is good but not outstanding.
The dear departed of 2018
None of our favorites left the scene, although Nata closed its downtown Lisbon location, and the ice cream shop Davvero, on the Praça de São Paulo in Corpo Santo, closed that location and reopened in the Lisbon suburbs.
Cantinho do Avillez (Rua Mouzinha da Silveira, 166; phone: 351-223-227-879). Chef José Avillez has expanded his small, and uniformly excellent, restaurant empire to Porto. This restaurant shares some of the dishes from the Cantinho do Avillez in Lisbon, but has other dishes that are special to Porto. The Porto dishes draw on influences from the Middle East and South Asia. Their vegetarian tagine is wonderful, as are the giant shrimp with Thai spices. Their two veal dishes, veal risotto and veal cheeks with curry, are very good.
Avillez is planning to open a Mini Bar, with a menu similar to the one in Lisbon, in Porto in summer 2018.
Restaurante DOP (Largo Santo Domingos 18; phone: 222-014-3130. This modern restaurant is in the beautiful 19th century Palácio das Artes. Like the setting, the menu offers modern interpretations of classical Portuguese dishes along with items inspired by restaurants elsewhere in Europe. The service is friendly and helpful. We were most impressed by an appetizer of crab raviolis in a pea sauce and a slow-cooked egg with oatmeal and sausage. The main dishes were less memorable. A tasty lobster rice was paired with overcooked sea bass, and octopus was bland. The desserts were unusual and tasty, especially the curry ice cream that transformed a typical molten chocolate cake. There are both tasting menus and a la carte choices.
Mercearia das Flores (Rua das Flores, 110; phone 222-083-232). A great spot for lunch, dinner, or a snack. Their sandwiches are very tasty and somewhat inventive. They also offer meat and cheese plates, salads, and desserts. The tables are inside a food shop with an excellent selection of canned Portuguese fish, wines and liquors, and cheese.
Cantina 32 (Rua das Flores 32; phone: 222-039-069). A fun, lively spot for lunch or dinner, with a friendly attentive staff. Their small dishes are delightful, especially their squid appetizer. We performed a menu hack by spooning the delicious sauce from the squid on top of an otherwise bland couscous salad, creating one of the best dishes we had in Porto. Their main dishes offer large slabs of meat or fish with sauces that while not memorable do well at bringing out the flavor of the proteins.
Arcadas (in Hotel Quinta das Lagrimas (Rua António Augusto Gonçalves, 3041-901; phone 239-802-380). This is the most sophisticated and elegant restaurant in Coimbra, located in the nicest hotel in town which is set in a beautiful garden and is a 10 minute walk from the old town (and another 10-15 minutes climb up to the university). The food is not inventive and instead tries and usually succeeds in following the path blazed by top chefs in Lisbon who bring modern techniques and high quality ingredients to traditional Portuguese dishes. There are both tasting menus and a la carte choices.
Faz Gostos (Rua do Castelo 13; phone 289-878-422) is the only Michelin listed (not starred) restaurant in Faro. There are others in the Algarve, including two 2-star entries. Faz Gostos is in a beautiful space in the old town. Fresh fish is not overcooked and the sauces are decent. This is not a destination restaurant, but if you are in Faro this is the best you will find.