Lisbon’s classic restaurants
Some restaurants are Lisbon’s classics and thus a part of its history. Due to its longevity and unique features, places like Tavares, Martinho da Arcada, Cervejaria da Trindade, Gambrinus and Belcanto are mandatory on this list. Tavares is a longevity champion on a global scale – it is the oldest Portuguese restaurant and one of the oldest in the world, open since 1784. On the other hand, Martinho da Arcada, founded in 1778, is the oldest Lisbon cafe. Initially known as Café Gelo (the Ice Cafe), it adopted the current name in 1845. It shares with the A Brasileira cafe the honour of being the usual resting and working place of the famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, whose table is still preserved there. Cervejaria da Trindade is open to the public since 1840, but only in 1863 did it install the masonic and hermetic symbolic tiles that today make it distinct. In the twentieth century, Gambrinus and Belcanto were opened: two upscale restaurants that have been hosting Lisbon’s social and business elites throughout the decades.
In a much more modern record, marking the city’s opening to cosmopolitan influences, Bica do Sapato is a highlight. Eleven also deserves a mention, because just one year after the opening, it has achieved its first Michelin star. Dated respectively from 1999 and 2004, they both represent the modernization of Lisbon, in a process linked to the integration of Portugal in the European Union and the subsequent period of economic expansion. Having a look at the cafes segment, A Brasileira, Nicola, Pastelaria Bénard and Versailles are also a must see. They represent the popularity of the habit of drinking coffee among the people of Lisbon and it was even in the first of these cafes that, story tells, was invented the bica, the beverage that nowadays Lisbon people ask for when they want to have a coffee. These cafes are also mirrors of the city life that developed in Chiado, Baixa and more recently in the Avenidas Novas neighbourhood. All of these restaurants and cafes are open to the public and can easily be visited: of course some of these restaurants are just within reach of the deepest pockets, but you may take an espresso coffee in any of the mentioned cafes for less than one euro, while enjoying the surrounding ambience.