Though it’s not technically on the coast – that there body of water you see is the Tegus River – Lisbon is one of the continent’s finest destinations for seafood lovers. Prawns the size of your forearm, buckets of clams with enough garlic to keep the vampires at bay for life, salt cod wearing so many guises…it’s all here, it’s all fresh, and we can’t get enough of it. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL places to eat seafood in Lisbon, Portugal.
We had to start here; to not do so would be dishonest. This is where locals and visitors alike head in their droves – expect queues with a capital Q – to eat the finest seafood of the region in the organised chaos of the city’s most famous cervejaria. And while the name suggests beer is the headlining act, it’s stuff from the sea which gets top billing.
The enormous tiger prawns are definitely worth ordering, as well as deservedly popular clams in garlic butter, but the absolute standout is the scarlett prawns, each with enough head juice to fill a coffee mug. Though that sounds like an agreeable drink, it’s even better mopped up with a mountain of buttered, toasted bread roll, which comes as standard. Wash down with a bottle of Portugal’s famous vinho verde and finish with a steak sandwich for dessert, because, well, everyone does. And this is one situation when we’re more than happy to swim with the shoal rather than against the tide. If you really don’t have room for anymore food, their vodka-spiked lemon sorbet provides a light and refreshing end to what will most likely be one of the best meals of your life.
MARISQUEIRA AZUL, TIME OUT MARKET
Lisbon’s Time Out Market, or Mercado da Ribeira for those not in thrall to branding, is a mixed bag if ever there was one. Though some of the country’s finest chefs have set up shop here, peddling signature dishes for less than ten euros, at times the vibe is corporate and the atmosphere clinical. Venture out of the central plot though, and to the peripheries, and you’ll find a set of more established, proper restaurants, more intent on dishing up spanking fresh seafood and less on churning out a single dish in a cardboard box en masse.
The pick of the bunch is Marisquiera (meaning seafood eatery) Azul, with around twenty countertop stools and plenty of live crustaceans in tanks to choose from. The banter between staff and customer is boisterous, the beer ice cold and free flowing, and dishes like razor clams with garlic butter lip smackingly delicious. It’s on the more expensive side, but with al fresco seating available in the warmer months, there’s no place we’d rather be on a fine day.
Address: Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479 Lisboa, Portugal
MARISQUEIRA DO LIS
Less touristy than some of the more heaving, heard about joints, Do Lis does the important stuff right and worries about little else in terms of frippery or fuss. The space is cavernous, the room bare and the table cloths paper, but the seafood arrives whole, with all the dirty, delicious head juices and brains in tact ready for sucking, and is as fresh as you’ll find. The garlic prawns and barnacles are particularly good here. It’s also just a three minute walk north of Ramiro, so if you find the queues too much, it’s an awesome reserve option to have up your sleeve. Once seated, roll them up, you’re going to be down, dirty and elbows deep in all the good bits.
Address: Av. Alm. Reis 27B, 1150-019 Lisboa, Portugal
CERVEJARIA O PALACIO
O Palacio, in the city’s up and coming, hip as hell Alcantara district, is another eminently viable alternative. True to the soul of any self respecting cervejaria, it stays open late and gets increasingly raucous as the evening wears on.
Start with a wheel of local cheese and some thinly sliced pata negra before the main event begins. Here, crayfish is excellent, as well as spider crab which is brimming with brown meat lightly seasoned and utterly delicious. Away from the shellfish side of things, monkfish over black rice (arroz de tamboril) is a star dish, comforting and moreish in the extreme. Delicious.
Address: Rua Prior do Crato 142, 1350-263 Lisboa, Portugal
PATEO DO AVILLEZ
Celebrity chef Jose Avillez has made this little corner of Chiado, Lisbon very much his own with the Bairro do Avillez concept; several excellent, dependable restaurants under one roof and banner. We say roof, but the pick of the bunch is Pateo, a large and open outdoor space and a fine purveyor of all things oceanic. Ordering off the grill is reliably excellent; a particularly fine tuna steak served with Algarve salad was fantastic. If it’s a special occasion, don’t miss the blue lobster over coals from the specials; top notch and a real treat.