We’ve all heard French being spoken in streets of Lisbon, but the occasional bonjour and merci aren’t solely coming from tourists. Many French folks have chosen Lisbon (or Lisbonne) to call home these days and with them have come an assortment of shops and restaurants.
Arguably, it all started with the passing of Portugal’s 2009 Non Habitual Resident regulation that allows EU nationals (mostly French) living in Portugal to pay zero tax on their pension income. In essence, this scheme lets them enjoy a Portuguese ten-year tax exemption. Bienvenue high net-worth individuals and, in essence, bienvenue new businesses meant to keep them fed and entertained!
Lisboetas have mixed feelings about it of course, but one thing is clear: we never shy away from being good hosts— especially when there’s food and drink involved.
Looking for an entrecôte? How about a little Orangina and a proper croissant? While some of these decidedly French items might still be difficult to find here in Lisbon, that’s beginning to change. A wealth of shops, restaurants, and cafés are popping up all over town and the nearest one might be just around the corner from you. We’re still waiting patiently for escargot, by the way.
If you’re seeking a French experience here in Lisbon, whether you call France your motherland or not, you’re definitely going to find it. Alors, allons-y!
Crepes and Pastries
La Boulangerie, Santos | R. do Olival 42
Croissants are the name of the game here. This place has consistently made Atlas’ best of lists for its egg-cellent breakfast (pardon the pun) of scrambled goodness with salmon or bacon atop a perfectly flaky croissant. Wonderful coffee, a friendly environment, and outdoor seating overlooking a beautiful plaza with a fantastic fountain only add to its charm.
Baguettes & Cornets, São Bento | R. de São Bento 78
Ice cream, pain au raisin, freshly-baked chocolate croissants in the morning…yep, this is a little slice of heaven open for breakfast and lunch. Their pastries, cakes (the raspberry cake is particularly good), quiches, and sandwiches (try the Parisien!) are consistently delicious, made with high-quality ingredients, and fill the shop with an aroma that’s to die for. Be aware there’s no seating inside so prepare to get your goodies to go.
Ladurée Portugal, Avenida | Tivoli Forum, Av. da Liberdade 180
The breakfast and weekend brunch menu at this bistro-style restaurant focuses on the basics: eggs, cheeses, French toast, croissants, and of course, the croque-monsieur. For a proper lunch, the menu gets spiced up to include a whole host of delicious French fare: king crab, oysters, salmon blini, and daily list of specials guaranteed to make your mouth water. The icing on the éclair? The macarons and the pralines are to die for.
Le Bar À Crêpes, Graça | Largo da Graça, 18
With salads and savory crepes named after French actors, designers, and crooners and sweet crepes named after French streets, monuments, and neighborhoods, the menu is the first port of call for a trip down a very French memory lane, while the price remains Portuguese. The largo can be loud, but the noise from the street disappears as you fall under the spell of the delicious crepe in front of you. Sweet, savory, or a blend of the two, this place is not to be missed if you have a craving for the taste of the French tradition.
Wine, Cheese, and Galettes
Queijaria Francesa Maître Renard, Campo de Ourique | R. Ferreira Borges 30
From a smooth-as-silk brie to a gorgeously crumbly 100-day-old gouda to the most pungent blue cheese you’ve ever encountered, this cheese shop has it all. The often overwhelming odor of cheese at its yummiest (and stinkiest) greets you as you enter this tiny wedge of a fromagerie, just before you encounter the friendly smiles of the well-trained and super-helpful staff. Even if you aren’t a cheese connoisseur, you’ll likely leave with just the right slice of heaven to accompany one lucky bread loaf.
Chipie la Galette, São Bento | Largo do Doutor António de Sousa de Macedo, 2-2A
Largely praised for its outdoor terrace and panned for its service, this is the place to go to get a Breton Galette (a pancake made with buckwheat flour wrapped around a savory filling). The word on the street is to opt for one with cheese as those without fall a little flat, but I’ll leave that up to the pros to decide. The pricing is a bit high for what you get, so if you’re in the mood for a little snack, go in and split one of their namesake galettes.
Legaaal, Bairro Alto | Rua da Rosa, 237
This wine bar offers staple French starters like duck foie gras with apricots, but to keep it truly authentic, perhaps it’s best to opt for whatever starter is “in accordance with the chef’s mood.” If you’ve got a hankering for a glass of light-bodied red wine, be advised that all the wine is local Portuguese, so don’t get your hopes up for a Beaujolais. Regardless of your choice, pair it with the entrecôte served with bérnaise sauce and dauphinoise potatoes au gratin or the Madagascar prawn risotto with a creamy bisque.
Comptoir Parisien, Belém | R. Vieira Portuense 44
This spot mixes Portuguese and French cuisine seamlessly, offering bacalhau (cod) and octopus dishes among its more traditional French staples like beef tartare, fish mousse, and sirloin with Roquefort dauphinoise potatoes. Breakfast and lunch are the best times to manger at this charming checkered cloth café, but regardless of when you go, save room for something sweet. The dessert menu seems to be the bread and butter of this establishment, so to speak.
French Arth, São Bento | R. de São Bento 30
Check out the breakfast menu at this tiny hole-in-the-wall for some typical yogurt, muesli, scrambled eggs, and brioche served with a mimosa, and sit with your La Monde at one of the two outdoor café tables on the sidewalk. For lunch settle inside and jump into a helping of french onion soup, a serving of homemade foie gras in cognac and port wine, a goat cheese quiche, or a fantastic bowl of stewed boeuf bourguignon when it’s on special. This tiny French café offers a surprisingly large menu with beaucoup yummy flavors.
Tropismo, Campo de Ourique | Rua Correia Teles, 107A
Judging by the level of friendliness in the bonjours of clientele to the staff, most of the diners here are not first-timers. This new French spot in Campo de Ourique has proven itself with an inventive menu and a charming vine-covered terrace out the back. Start with the cigares de confit de canard maison (fried duck eggrolls) and/or the crème brûlée de chevre au romarin (goat cheese creme brulee with rosemary) to start, and move on to the joues de porc (pork cheeks) for the main dish. Finish it all up with a tarte aux pommes (apple tart) and you’ve got a winning combo.
Lisboète, Santos | Calçada Marquês Abrantes 94
If you can get over the pretense of the all-white interior long enough to order, you’ll be delighted by the small yet varied menu. Duck breast, sautéed scallops, foie gras with a Moscatel wine reduction, and even a chocolate tasting dessert platter await, but for a price. The pricing is meant to entice fancier diners, so prepare to wear your good pantaloons.
La Brasserie de l’Entrecôte, Chiado | Rua do Alecrim, 117/121
This French grill serves seitan entrecôte for vegetarian guests and tried-and-true heavenly beef entrecôte for the people who likely made the reservation. Unless you’ve come to this fine-dining establishment for a salad, a pate spread, or a dessert, it’s unlikely you’ll be ordering anything other than the namesake dish. Whether you’re visiting the location in Chiado, Parque das Nacões, Amoreiras, or Cascais, prepare yourself for one hell of a meating.