Veganism arrived in Lisbon only a short while ago. But when it landed on the dining scene, it did so in a big way.
Portugal is known for its fish, seafood, pork, and cheese. But vegetables? Not so much. Until a couple of years ago, your best hope of finding a vegetable was to order the soup at a typical restaurant. The token vegetarian dish was often an omelet. But now a big movement is brewing, with a new emphasis on plant-based diets, both for the health of the planet and for the health of people who consume them. Now there is more than a handful of appealing vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. And most of them have at least a few vegan options. But for visitors who want to stay completely clear of animal products, here are the best spots for vegan food in Lisbon.
1. Ao 26 – Vegan Food Project
A pioneer on the scene for vegan food in Lisbon, Ao 26 (“to 26” on its street in Chiado) continues to serve reliable international and Portuguese-inspired cuisine. Expect a “bifana“ (normally a beef sandwich) of seitan and various vegan sandwiches on typical bolo do caco (coconut bread) at lunchtime and heartier hot fare at dinner. There are vegan staples like lentil burgers and seitan steaks, but also delectables like mushroom, spinach, asparagus, and walnut risotto, and a gluten-free polenta with pumpkin puree and mushroom ragout.
2. O Botanista
Plants are a primary element in the decor at this new restaurant near Cais do Sodré, and also the only ingredient on the plate. The owners are the same people behind Ao 26, so it’s obvious that the quality will be high. Here they are especially devoted to unprocessed foods, and a majority of the menu-items are made in house. It’s worth a trip for the vegan desserts alone.
3. My Mother’s Daughters
This petite café is indeed the venture of a mother and her three daughters. Their aim is to celebrate nature, so everything is plant-based and organic. The “mother” in the name refers not only to owner Dona Maria José Vasconcelos but also to Mother Nature. The menu changes every three months to respect the seasons. Bowls are a staple, such as the Bowl of the Earth, with lentils, rice, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, fruit and seeds.
4. Eight – the Health Lounge
The fare at this casual restaurant revolves around eight principles for healthy living and good food. These include keeping things bright (colorful vegetables), fresh, whole, and inspired—both in terms of menu items and overall life. In terms of menu, that means superfood bowls, creative toasts, and detox shots with activated charcoal, lemon, and coconut water.
5. Foodprintz Café
This new spot is part of a larger wellness-lifestyle complex that offers yoga classes and workshops in self-care. The proprietors’ priorities include going from seed to plate with organic and fairly sourced food, global flavors, sticking to a plant-based regimen, innovating with new menus every month, supporting local producers, and minimizing their carbon footprint.
6. O Antigo Talho
This vegan restaurant really does occupy a former butcher shop—and now it stands for all the people who changed their ways and stand up for all species and planet sustainability. The menu is concise—an appetizer, a bowl, a wrap, and a quiche (which never includes eggs in Portugal)—but changes frequently and is reliably delicious.
7. Cafe Galeria House of Wonders
A standby in beach town Cascais, House of Wonders is regularly wonderful. On the ground floor, you can sample your way through a lavish vegan buffet. Upstairs, you have a choice of composed plates and natural juices, which you can take up to savor on the sunny rooftop terrace.
8. The Food for Real
At this sunny spot in Alcântara, everything is Portuguese and as often as possible is handmade. Expect dishes like mushroom stroganoff, vegetable curry, and a vegan version of the classic Brazilian dish feijoda, which keeps the beans and replaces the meat with sautéed cauliflower. There are a large number of gluten-free options.
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Ann Abel came to Lisbon on assignment for Forbes in 2016 and fell in love with the quality of life, fantastic light, endless sunshine, friendly people and, of course, the delectable food and wine. When not eating her way through the capital (and coasts) she travels and writes for Conde Nast Traveller, Departures, Afar, Robb Report and other publications.