Portugal is known for its seafood and black pork, but Lisbon’s vegetarian scene is rapidly picking up steam.
Truth be told, Portugal has never been known as a vegetarian paradise, and it probably never will be. The coastline is too rich in fish, and the interior is rich in beef. But in cosmopolitan Lisbon, there’s a growing trend toward meat-free, plant-based, and flexatarian restaurants for locals and visitors alike. Here’s a guide to our favorite spots for vegetarian food in Lisbon.
Vegetarian Restaurants in Lisbon
1. Jardim das Cerejas
The buffet at this informal spot includes four or five hot dishes, brown rice and basmati rice, couscous, soup, sliced pizza and vegetable bread. They also have a cold table with salads and raw veggies.
This is our favorite spot to take visiting friends, because the buffet features vegetarian versions of Portuguese classics, such as bulhão pato mushrooms (with garlic and coriander) and vegetables à bras (with eggs and potatoes). The outdoor dining area is one of the loveliest in Lisbon.
3. Ao 26
Another spot for veggie takes on Portuguese cuisine, Ao 26 was one of the pioneering restaurants for vegetarian food in Lisbon. The toasted sandwiches are consistently great.
4. O Botanista
Well-prepared vegetables, not faux meat, are the star of the show at this new restaurant by the proprietors of Ao 26. The vegan desserts as especially delicious.
5. Eight – The Health Lounge
This on-trend plant-based restaurant embraces whole foods and Instragram-worthy dishes. Expect smoothie and savory bowls, toasts, tumeric lattes and wellness shots.
6. Graça 77
The vegetarian and vegan dishes at this cozy spot are well-prepared, prettily plated, and always inventive. The menu includes a number of meat-free versions of Portuguese classics, like pica-pau with mushrooms.
7. My Mother’s Daughters
Maria Jose Vasconcelos opened this organic-leaning hipster café with her daughters, Cristina, Ines and Magdalena, last year. The “mother” in the name also refers to Mother Nature, as the menu changes every three months to use whatever is most in season. Trendy, healthful foods are always on offer, such as a pre-meal elixir of ginger, tumeric, and lemon, chia pudding with activated charcoal, and all sorts of bowls.
This project combines a plant-based café, yoga and mindfulness, and education and activist workshops. Head chef Karo Tak has travelled the world as a chef, so she is very influenced by all the different countries, flavors and colors she has seen everywhere. Her monthly and daily specials are cooked with love for her guests and for the world itself.
9. Os Tibetanos
Obviously there is excellent Tibetan food at this long-running establishment, but it’s not the only thing on the menu. There are also some inventive dishes like mango curry with tofu. The garden is a particularly pleasing place to dine.
Fifteen years ago, this was among the first vegetarian restaurants. The garden that surrounds it was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama, and that’s just part of its history and lore. Chef Yasser Saiyad graduated from the Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Lima, Peru. Here he incorporates influences from India, Thailand, North Africa and Italy. There are vegan and gluten-free options as well at this favorite spot for vegetarian food in Lisbon.
11. House of Wonders
It’s worth a train ride out to Cascais to feast on the vegetarian fare here. Downstairs, there’s an ever-changing buffet. Upstairs, there’s a counter where you can order mezze plates with various dishes. And on the rooftop there’s a tranquil, sunny garden.
12. O Antigo Talho
Housed in a building that was once an actual butcher shop, O Antigo Talho (the old butcher) takes a kinder approach to cuisine these days. Now the menu is plant-based and designed to be healthy for diners and for the planet. The quiches (which in Lisbon don’t always involve eggs) are especially popular.
13. Jardim dos Sentidos
This “garden of the senses” serves lacto-vegetarian and vegan dishes made according to Ayuvedic principles. Along with a daily-changing buffet, there’s an a la carte menu that roams the world. It ranges from portobello mushroom lasagne with spinach and ricotta to pad thai to Indian thalis.
14. The Food Temple
Tucked away in a corner of Mouraria, the Food Temple is not easy to find. But it’s worth the effort for the tapas-style vegetarian and vegan food. Sometimes the chefs get creative, offering dishes like vegan “fish” and chips. Bonus points for the outdoor seating and extra-friendly service.
Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants in Lisbon
15. Café Janis
Surprisingly for a French-style restaurant, Café Janis serves a number of satisfying vegetarian and vegan dishes. These include avocado tartare (as well as the expected toast), a raw zucchini goat cheese salad, and a vegan bowl that’s brimming with crispy roasted chickpeas, artichokes, mushrooms and other goodness.
Vegetarian food in Lisbon had clearly gone mainstream when Portugal’s biggest celebrity chef opened a partly vegetarian restaurant. José Avillez’s new Jacaré, in the fine-dining food court atop El Corte Inglês, takes its name from the alligator. That animal has an omnivorous diet, and Avillez made a menu that’s partly carnivorous and significantly vegetarian. The veggie dishes aren’t afterthoughts.
17. The Food for Real
Although chicken and tuna make (very rare) appearances on the menu, the food at this cheerful café is largely vegetarian. There are many vegan and gluten-free options, with everything clearly marked on the menu of toasted sandwiches, salads and açai and smoothie bowls.
18. Natural Crave
The Sweetgreen of Lisbon, this counter-service spot lets you build your own salad or grain bowl, or just from some suggested combinations. There are plenty of veggie proteins on offer.
19. In Bocca al Lupo
Lisbon’s first organic pizzeria still remains one of the few places to find a vegan or gluten-free pie. The chef makes his Roman style pizzas with ingredients directly sourced from producers in Portugal and Italy. Everything is fresh, and the crusts are impossibly light.
Of course you can find vegetarian options at almost any restaurant in the world. But Lisbon’s Chutnify stands out for the groovy design of its dining room and its health-ified takes on Indian street food. The papdi chaat (crispy wafer, chickpeas, tamarind, mint, yoghurt and pomegranate) is addictive, and the vegetarian dosas are lighter than air.
21. Hamburgueria do Bairro
Yes, a hamburger restaurant. Lisbon is made for gourmet burgers at the moment, and most of the better burger shops have a token vegetarian option. But Hamburgueria do Bairro outdoes them all, with five vegan burgers on the menu. They’re made with ingredients like portobello mushrooms, falafel, black beans and tofu and dressed just as lovingly as the meaty versions.
22. Organi Chiado
There’s a bit of sustainable seafood on the menu at this pretty spot. But it’s mostly known for its vegan patés and lentil curries.
23. Santa Clara dos Cogumelos
Every dish on the menu—even desserts—at this quirky spot is made with mushrooms. In some cases, the mushrooms are an accompaniment to meat or fish, but in many others they’re the star. Expect mushroom ceviche, mushroom soup, mushroom risotto, plurotus pica-pau and shiitake bulhão pato.
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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.