Culture » Best of Lisbon 2017

December 31, 2017 by Ellis Dixon

Best of Lisbon 2017

Though there are many that are quite good, there are few that are exemplary, and even fewer that are “the best” if such a thing exists. Here at Atlas we like a challenge, so our street team has spent the past year pounding the pavement to test, evaluate, and take scrupulous notes to help your next year kick a little ass. We’re proud to bring you our 2017 list of spots around Lisboa that deserve recognition for being on fleek — will that still be a thing going forward? We hope not.

Best Burger: GroundBurger
For sure…and I’m American. Awesome beef, toppings, and tons of international beers, including American beers that you haven’t seen in a minute. The house beer is Samuel Adams, FYI. -Paul

Honorable Mention: Atalho Real is pretty badass! Fresh, nice meat and you can choose a side of potatoes gratin! Delicious! -Patri

Best Brunch Spot: The Mill
This place is my go-to for proper coffee and proper brunch. Dive mouth-first into an almond milk latte as you wait for your cooked breakfast with superb side dishes to arrive. The only thing is…which dish will you choose? -Zoe

Best Canja and Salgado Combo: Pastelaria Vita
The canja is just like mom used to make and it’s cheap as chips. The chamucas, croquetes, and empadas are unreal, and the owner, Sr. Brás, is the nicest dude ever. -Paul 

Best Cave to Dance to 80s/90s Hard Rock/Metal Music with Friends: Metropolis Club Recently reopened but the same old clientele! Go along just for the experience of finding the front door (hidden in the basement of a shopping center) and dancing stupidly in front of good friends who will only laugh at you a little bit. -Eddie

Yeah, you have to go out of downtown if you want to listen to some heavy stuff, but generally, the entrance is free before 2h and beers cost only 2€. Don’t fear the empty building! -Alfredo

Best Chinese Food: The Old House
Expo center is home to a lot of chain restaurants that you can easily skip, so we are always glad to give our money to this elegant Chinese restaurant that serves authentic dishes made with authentic ingredients. The hoards of Chinese families that visit it on Sundays can´t all be wrong, you know. -Ellis

Best Chocolate Cake: Cafe a Brasileira
This is a tough one, but the absolute best is at Cafe a Brasileira: it’s melty, runny, but not gooey; it balances a heavenly crunchy texture with a rich and dense, yet surprisingly puffy interior. You take a bite and you feel like everything is going to be OK. -Patri

Honorable Mention: The runner-up is a chocolate tart from Mez Cais — but don’t eat the spicy pepper on top. You have been warned! -Roxanne

Best Croissant: Benard’s
This spot in Baixa-Chiado serves the best chocolate croissant in Lisbon! They cut up the croissant and fill it with their own warm homemade chocolate sauce. It’s worth a look inside as it is one of the oldest pastelarias in Lisbon. The staff isn’t the friendliest nor the fastest, but you’ll be so delighted with the croissant that you won’t notice much else. -Sofia

Honorable Mention: La Boulangerie wins hands down! Buttery, light as a feather, and crunchy. Also, the fact that you may just bump into Madonna next time for brunch makes it all a whole lot more exciting, doesn’t it? -Roxanne

Best Cocktails: Cantinho da Saudade
Frankie keeps it fresh, switching up the menu every other month with new and exciting own creations. His magic concoctions are always surprising, and rarely headache-inducing. Well, unless you order the entire menu, TWICE, I guess. -Patri

Best Dim Sum: Restaurante Chinês Grande Palácio Hong Kong
This spot in Picoas has a menu of perfectly-prepared dim sum selections as long as your arm and they aren’t expensive. There are 46 different options to choose between, but I recommend the mini Shanghai dumplings, the rice and chicken wrapped in a lotus leaf, the pork buns, the hot and sour soup, the Vietnamese crepes, and the Peking duck appetizer plate. Go hungry, leave happy. -Ellis 

Best Eclair: L’Eclair
Yes, it’s become famous because they appeared on television but these guys have got the best eclairs in town, so the hype is actually true for once. Prepare your mouth for a taste of France and, yes, perhaps your wallet too. In the end, what doesn’t kill you makes you happier. -Alfredo

Best English-Language Bookstore: Bivar Books
The owner Leena (read Atlas’ interview with her here) will order a book for you if they don’t have it. This small shop carries a surprisingly good selection of new and used books. I’m not a fan of chains, but I’d put FNAC in Colombo in second place. They have a crazy good book selection in English. You find some titles there that you just cannot get anywhere else here. -Paul

Best Freaky Food: Percebes at Marisqueira Ribamar
These goose barnacles, though prehistoric-looking, are incredibly tasty. You can find great places to suck down these slimy “rock fingers” around Lisbon, or you can venture out to this spot in Mafra for some exceptional ones. -Tiago

Best Gay Bar: Corvo
For those of you who are tired of the same old cliche stuff, here you can find good drinks, good people, and good music. And don’t forget to look at the chandelier. -Alfredo

Best Hangover Cure: The Michelada at Taqueria Pistolas y Corazon
This drink is so serious that it comes in two cups: one with the magic mixture containing at least 10 secret ingredients and the other with a light beer of your choice (I tried it with Negra Modelo, which was a good choice). The secret cure will pop the pennies off the eyes of the dead thanks to the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, lemon and lime juice, and spiced salt. -Ellis

Best Hidden Brewery: Lx Brewery
It’s completely out of tourist guidebooks and only a few natives know about this small brewery with good warehouse vibes. There’s no number, so, make sure to keep an eye out for the small green gate. -Alfredo

Best Ice Cream: Gelato Davvero
Just as good as Santini but hurts your pocket a little less. Also some interesting and accessible options for food allergens including the gluten-free cone! Currently relocating to Santos after a hotel takeover of their former location. Soon to be back with a bang! -Eddie

Honorable Mention: The one and only Nanarellaa classic, made with love straight outta Torino! Fresh ingredients, wonderful whipped cream, and home-made cones. Get the scoop? And, cheers to Claudio for being the best ice creamer around. -Patri

Best Illegal Chinese Food: Amigo Lee’s
It’s not really the name of the place, but it is as far as the expat locals are concerned. It is solely run by Mr. Lee and his wife, neither of whom speak more than 3 words of English or Portuguese. Nevertheless, they are two of the best people in the world, serve both the most addictive and affordable Chinese food in town, and have the ability to rid “cabbage” of its bad reputation (“A9” on the menu- thank us later). From Martim Moniz, walk to the top of “Escadinhas de Saude” (soon to be an escalator) and make a right; the first door buzzer on your right will have a small yellow tag (in Chinese)- buzz, wait, walk to the second floor, and prepare for magic. -Bogdan K.

Honorable Mention: The illegal Chinese spot in Martim Moniz in front of the taxi station across from Topo on a small street with a dead end. Second floor, boom baby! The spicy hot plate shrimp and the noodles will make you go crazy! -Roxanne

Best Indian Restaurant: Natraj Restaurant
Hands down the best in town. I’ve lived in India, so that’s no small praise. They have something in their curry that makes you crave it weekly. Delicious! -Zoe

Kaprixu is a little restaurant near the Telheiras Pingo Doce. It is known for spicy dishes and that curry flavor the locals have grown to love. -Mário

Best IPA: Urraca Vendaval by 8a Colina
Taking the tastebuds of Lisbonites and their many visitors by storm this year with this IPA leading the way for the rest of their brews. -Eddie

Best Late-night Watering-hole-in-the-wall: Flamingo Bar
Yes, it’s still the best. Very popular with the locals, but friendly to outsiders too, run solely by Ana, the Portuguese queen of puns, this off-the-beaten-path little Mouraria haven is still growing strong and growing strange. Go there for warmth, an awesome soundtrack, tequila, Spanish beer, all sorts of weirdness, and the pun cocktail of the week. Don’t be put off by the shady kids constantly on the corner. Unlike the scum of Cais do Sodré, these chaps are actually non-violent, honest hard-working local kids who are not shady at all and won’t approach you unless you approach them if that’s your thing ;). -Bogdan K.
P.S. Tell Ana that AtlasLisboa sent you. The “Limbo” cocktail honors one of its team. 

Best Live Irish Music: O’Gilin’s Irish Pub
Every Friday night, for the last 13 years, this pub in Cais do Sodre has welcomed The Melting Pot, a local Irish/ Portuguese trio that has perfected the art of drunken nostalgia. “Wonder Wall” is their least impressive cover, yet it still gets the full house going every time. Prepare for sing-alongs, Irish dancing (including on the tables) and a feeling of belonging, no matter your background. -Bogdan K.

Best Margarita: Taqueria Pistola y Corazon
Any of the margaritas (especially the spicy ones) will do the trick. The bartenders seem to have traded Mexico for Portugal and brought all their secrets with them. -Paul

Honorable Mention: Mez Cais, baby! That spicy salt lining the rim of the glass is a show-stopper. Do yourself and the environment a favor, and skip the straw next time and find out what an amazing kick it gives to your drinking experience. Opt for the classic, and keep them coming. Three Margaritas in and you’re probably headed on a wacky adventure on the other side of the river. Don’t say we didn’t warn ya! -Patri

Best Men’s Vintage Store: Joker
Fashion is no longer just for the ladies. There’s a great selection of things to choose from, so you never have to wonder if there’s something for you or not… as if that was ever a problem! -Alfredo

Best-Named Beer: Ne Me Quitte IPA by MUSA
This hoppy draught beer is only served in the Fábrica da Musa in Marvila, a lofty space in Marvila that is quickly becoming the new hot spot for beer fanatics. I recommend giving this tap a try when it’s in stock whether you’re a fan of Edith Piaf or not. You won’t want to go away! -Ellis

Best New Brewers: Cerveja Lince
Great beer with an even greater story behind the name, you can find these guys stocked in a few bars around Lisbon, including the Delirium Café, or call out for a chat in their brewery in Marvilla. I recommend the Belgian Pale Ale, one of their first and one of their finest! – Eddie

Best New Sport to Lisbon: Gaelic Athletic Association (Irish Football)
With training every Monday in Belém, you can now try your hand at Gaelic football with many others — who also haven’t a clue what’s going on! -Eddie

Best Nightcap: A Viagem
The kind of place where you can be left alone with your companion, or be left alone by yourself, or have a stimulating conversation with the guys and gal who run the place, who have impeccable taste in music and grog and don’t mind telling you exactly how they feel about the Catalonian independence question. For example. -O Vádio

Best Octopus: Polvo Vadio
If there ever is a list of any “best of,” then that list should include a category of best octopus, so that Polvo Vadio wins the prize. It is definitely a highlight of my last visit to Cascais. Some of the best octopus I’ve ever eaten. -Pablo

Honorable Mention: Boteco da Linha. It’s a little hidden gem in Sao Pedro de Estoril, owned by the most badass local surfer crew. The polvo is just perfect: slightly crunchy on the outside, and absolutely juicy and tender on the inside. The potatoes are creamy and sweet, and oh well, just fabulous! DO NOT skip the bread with garlic butter and olives. They’re the best olives we’ve come across so far. Amazing ambiance! Feels like home every single time. Wonderfully friendly staff.      -Patri

Best Pizza: Pizzeria Zero Zero 
This pizza bad boy is thin, cooked to perfection, and with an exquisitely crunchy crust. Flavourful, amazing, fresh ingredients from Italy, and wonderful ambiance! Bonus points for the magical terrace overlooking the botanical garden in Principe Real. Pair your dinner with a glass of Primitivo and feel like the biggest gangster of them all.  -Roxanne

Best Place to Break You Out of Your Rut: MAAT
The current exhibits at the new MAAT are guaranteed to take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, after which you’ll either want to start a revolution or at least make something really, really good, whatever it is. -O Vádio

Best Place to Buy Fish: Mercado 31 de Janeiro
Don’t be surprised if you run into that famous chef or even last week’s one-night stand. That’s right, the word is out. Here you can find fish as fresh as the first day of your salary and tastier than anything you’ve had all month, including your little fling. -Alfredo

Best Place to Find a Rich Husband: Cascais
Yep. That’s about it. -Roxanne

Best Place to Forget You’re an Asshole: Gulbenkian Gardens
There are two approaches to this: surround yourself with bigger assholes, in which case El Corte Inglês on a Friday afternoon usually does the trick, or surround yourself with beauty and tranquility so that your good side will knock the asshole out cold for a couple hours. Gulbenkian Gardens is that place — and it’s very close to El Corte. – O Vádio

Best Place to Hunt for Hipsters: Incógnito
The red lights, the black-and-white checkered floors, and the disco ball paired with the spiraling staircase are bound to make you feel like you’re going down the rabbit hole. -Patri

Best Place to Learn to Program Apps: Le Wagon
Le Wagon is a French start-up that has recently established itself in Lisbon. They are well known for training up-and-coming computer programmers to find jobs almost right after they finish their boot camp. -Mário

Best Place to Overpay for Admission: Lux Frágil
For when you want to just dance and melt into the crowd, become invisible, and let the music work its magic, brave the line and the inflated entrance fee. Go downstairs, first row, by the speaker, and just let loose, if you can swing it. -Roxanne

Best Place to People-watch: Cafe do Largo
This cafe in Largo do Intendente serves an amazing galão and the mixture of people passing by outside is just perfect: the tourists who think they can easily walk up to the miradouro until they see the stairs, the old hookers coming from/to work, the Erasmus students looking for the last insider’s tip from Lonely Planet, the funny two-toothed beggar, and all kinds of Intendente residents old and new. -Pablo

Best Place to Pretend Like Everything Is Going to Be Ok: Osteria
This is a little Italian gem in Madragoa. Dive into a scrumptious, hot plate of ragu, whilst listening to ’90s Europop all under the serene gaze of none other than the Pope, staring at you with his piercing gaze from a neatly framed picture behind the bar. The colorful Christmas twinkling lights add a playful note. How can everything not be alright? -Patri

Best Place to Read a Book Indoors: Café da Garagem
Go just before sunset with your favorite page-turner. The view is breathtaking! Factor in the pastel walls, the eclectic, surprising decor, the wonderful food, and the great wine selection, and you’ve got yourself a one-man party! -Roxanne

Best Place to Shop for a Computer and Gadgets: PC Diga
This is a renowned computer shop that has the best prices in all of Lisbon. If you need a computer or a phone, look no further. These are the guys with the best customer service and best prices —  and they have some sweet promotions from time to time. – Mário

Best Place to Sucker-punch a Nazi: Fábrica Braco da Prata
Nazis. They seem to pop up when you least expect it, not only in Marvila but just about everywhere. The crowd at this venue is supportive enough to watch you punch a Nazi right in the face and then sympathetic enough to let you get away with it… or so I’ve been told. -Pablo

Best Place to Take Off Your Clothes: Praia da Ursa
Go on, get naked! Everyone seems to be pretty cool with it. -Roxanne

Best Place to Wear Sunglasses at Night: EKA Palace
This is the land of lost dreams and endless possibilities. That gentleman wearing a beige suit, a lavender silk scarf, and an Indiana Jones hat is NOT trying to offer you a Coca-Cola. Dubious characters aside, the sound system is decent and it’s reminiscent of Berlin. Techno is life — or something like that… -Patri

Best Place to Watch Ducks and Geese Conspire at Night: Campo Martires da Patria
It’s an ecosystem all its own. In its center is a small outdoor cafe in the shape of a giant happy fly: Mosca Cafe. There is logic here. In the summer, the numerous flies are attracted by the ducks, roosters, geese, pigeons, dogs, children, students, and old folk playing chess, all of whom manage to coexist here in perfect harmony. A great spot to read or write a book in the daytime. However, as one of our correspondents recently found out, at night this place, albeit safe, is very different. Left to their own devices, the ducks and geese take part in some sort of strange silent ritual involving neck dancing, group prayer, and fourth-dimensional communication. Words can’t describe it, but it is truly unforgettable. -Bogdan K.
P.S. The park’s many benches are free of charge, day or night. 

Best Salgados: Cafe Beira Gare
I want to give my vote to this place in front of the Rossio metro station. It has been my favorite salgado place over the last few years and is still the first place that comes to mind when someone mentions croquettes. -Pablo

Best Second-hand Clothes: Retro Queen
This shop in Cacilhas has a great collection of leather jackets and all kinds of old football jerseys (real football). Looking for a cheap old Barcelona shirt with the name of Luis Figo on the back? This is the place! And you might also find some other rarities, like the original jerseys of the firefighter squad football team Bad Ischl. -Pablo

Best Steak: Carvoaria Jacto
Get a Posta Mirandesa; one is usually enough for two people. It comes cooked to perfection, but more on the rare side (so if you like yours well done generally, ask them to make it extra super duper well done, otherwise you’ll end up staring at a massive piece of pinky stuff on your plate). The meat and shrimp skewers are also nom-nom— as mouth-watering as it gets. The meat is fresh, juicy, smoky on the top, and it comes reveling in an incredible garlic olive oil sauce. Go crazy on the salad bar (yes, a salad bar, in Lisbon!) The dressings are on point, and the fries are ace. -Patri

Related Post:  Atlas' Picks: The Best of Lisboa 2015

Honorable Mention: Brasserie de L’Entrecote in Camões. Thinly sliced perfect meat, covered in a sauce made of a secrted mix of 40+ herbs and spices. It comes with a side of impeccable fries. Opt for the “Menu Executif,” and get the salad with walnuts. Life will be amazing. -Roxanne

Best Souvenirs: Chapitô Gift Shop
You can’t leave Lisbon without a stop at the Chapitô shop for souvenirs. The fancy earrings and necklaces make good gifts for the ladies and there are funny and artsy postcards that are good for the guys. -Pablo

Best Vegetarian Buffet: Jardim das Cerejas
The “Cherry Garden” has a beautiful buffet to satisfy vegans, vegetarians, and even non-vegetarians (who can’t believe it’s all veg). Dinner at €9.50 makes this place a regular go-to for those in the know. -Zoe

Best Veggie & Vegan Snack: Sama Sama Crepe & Juice Bar
A newcomer to Cais Do Sodré but already making their mark, Malte and Sofia are bringing a new brand of veggie and vegetarian food to Portugal with love from Ireland. -Eddie

Best Vegan Stores: Sapato Verde and Green Beans
Both are 100% vegan shops that sell eco-friendly goods, cleaning products in bulk, a lot of organic products, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, and they’re both run by a really nice staff. -Sofia

Best View: Jardim Boca do Vento
This miradouro in Cacilhas is also the best place to get away from tourists. There’s a really nice view of Lisbon across the Tejo with both bridges, the Torre de Belém, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, and Praça do Comércio right in front of you. -Pablo

Best Way to Save the World While Shopping: Fair Bazaar
If you wanna stock up on bamboo toothbrushes, logs that grow shitake mushrooms, well-designed men’s and women’s sustainable clothing, fair trade Ecuadorian stuff, and handmade artisanal jewelry that resemble pieces of moss or coral, this place in Embaixada shopping is where to go to get them. If you have to shop, do it with a conscience! -Ellis 

Veganly sustainable totally eco-friendly but also badboy-esque free for all with a fair-priced product extravaganza for all their whatchamacallit thingamathings. -Bogdan K.

Best 1,50€ Late-night Durum: Ali Baba Kebab House, Intendente
Yes, it’s a chain, but I have my reasons. First off, it’s run by three very friendly and efficient trilingual kebab professionals. Secondly, it’s open until 2h. Lastly, 1€ gets you an OK slice of pizza, 1,50€ gets you an amazing Durum sandwich, and 3€ gets you fries and a coke (or beer) with that. If you are a student or a teacher or just plain broke, you now have dinner plans. -Bogdan K.

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