I’ve been wanting to write about Prado in Lisbon, one of the top restaurants in Portugal’s capital, for ages.
But before I could get around to it, lockdown hit and writing about dining out seemed like a cruel tease; another reminder of a social activity that we can’t participate in right now. But part of what I miss is recounting my gastronomic tales from travelling abroad, so here we are.
Of all the eateries on my extensive list of “Where to eat in Lisbon,” my meal at Prado Restaurant was definitely a stand-out experience. Determined to squeeze a visit into our 10-day Portugal itinerary before heading to the train station to eat our way through Porto, we rolled up to this pastoral haven with our suitcases trundling loudly behind us.
The moment I stepped into the bright, foliage-filled space, a preternatural calm washed over me. I knew the scheduling hassle had been worth it.
But it’s not just the decor that makes this foodie destination captivating.
From their dedication to celebrating the best of what Portugal has to offer, to the history of the building itself, here are 5 reasons why Prado Restaurant in Lisbon is worth adding to your must-eat list:
Roots in Ruins
When you walk into Prado Restaurant in Lisbon, you get the distinct impression that it’s in the process of being swallowed whole by an ungovernable jungle. Odds and ends of outdated machinery hang from the ceiling, draped in a thick layer of vegetation.
This was a deliberate design choice to reflect the building’s history as a former 19th-century preserves and biscuits factory that had been abandoned for 20 years prior to being converted into one of the best restaurants in Lisbon.
It was part of a block renovation in the area of Sé de Lisboa, one of the oldest and most magnificent cathedrals in the city. Located between the Baixa and Alfama neighbourhoods, the ramshackle factory was rediscovered in crumbling ruins, overrun with plant life and minus one roof.
How cool is that? It’s like the Food Network version of The Secret Garden or the legendary Lost City in Peru. The entire restaurant — from the interior design to the menu to the name — was built around the building’s history.
Prado in Lisbon is where untamed wilderness meets Nordic simplicity; right at my aesthetic sweet spot.
Of all the places to eat in Lisbon, Prado was one I didn’t want to miss, if only to satisfy the crazy plant lady in me.
The blissfully calm open space is flooded with natural light streaming in from high windows, and the sills overflowing with plant life. The 6-m ceiling extends into a canopy of greenery and rustic pulley parts perch amid the rafters, hinting at the property’s former state of disrepair.
Local architecture and design agency, Arkstudio, was tasked with restoring the interior; transforming the future farm-to-table restaurant into a bucolic oasis.
The white-washed walls lend the space an open, airy atmosphere, tempered by sage green panelling along the bottom and grounding the room. UFO-esque brass discs frame pendant lights that hang from long cords of varying lengths, giving the appearance that they are magically floating from table to beechwood table, complete with minimalistic spindle-backed J77 chairs by Hay.
The plush, caramel leather banquettes interspersed along the length of one wall adds warmth and richness to the functional Scandinavian style.
Inspired by the state of verdant dilapidation that the property was found, the owners decided to convert it into a farm-to-table restaurant aptly christened Prado, meaning “meadow.” Not only does the name reflect the foliage-heavy decor of the Lisbon restaurant, but Chef António Galapito cultivated a literal meadow near the Sé, where he manages and grows his own livestock and organic vegetables.
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Prior to opening, Galapito traversed across Portugal, establishing partnerships with local farmers, fishermen and winemakers. He developed an ever-changing menu that features ingredients that are seasonal and fresh, according to his trusted producers recommendations.
If it’s not in season, it’s not on the menu.
Instead, a popular dish will be tweaked to swap out certain seasonal elements. Even the wine is organic, natural and biodynamic!
Ingredients aren’t the only things locally sourced at Prado Restaurant. The napkins were handwoven by Portuguese artisans while the unique ceramic dishes were handmade in Lisbon by Anna Morgado in collaboration with a ceramics studio in the city.
menu at prado in lisbon
If you’re looking for where you should eat in Lisbon, Prado serves up the most authentic Portuguese flavour.
Their entire ethos stems from celebrating the best Portugal has to offer across the country — from the sea to land. The ever-changing farm-to-table (and ocean-to-plate) menu at Prado Restaurant features imaginative, contemporary dishes composed of the freshest national ingredients that transition with the seasons.
As well-versed as I am in the art of eating out, I was completely gobsmacked by the items on the menu. Despite being written in English, I felt like I had to Google half the ingredients that were referenced — sea lettuce, ceps, Hispi cabbage, pink dentex, nasturtium…I was excited to discover the new tastes, textures and inventive flavour combinations!
We started with warm sourdough bread (made in partnership with local miller and baker Gleba) with two spreads — goat’s butter with sea lettuce and smoked salt, and whipped Iberico pork fat with garlic and pradika. I don’t usually order bread unless gravy is involved but boy, was I glad that we did.
This sourdough was BURSTING with flavour, made with a special barbela wheat that had been widely used until the 1930s before being replaced with bland alternatives. While I could’ve devoured the entire basket plain, the creamy goat’s butter made each bite even more heavenly.
Ok, ok, enough waxing poetic about bread.
Next, a plate of Pleurotus (oyster) mushrooms arrived at the table drenched in a vibrant massa pimentão (red pepper) sauce scattered with toasted buckwheat for some delightful mix of textures.
To satisfy my seafood craving, we opted for a bowl of plump mussels, swimming in a delicate broth with tender leeks and crispy chunks of fried bread garnished with parsley.
The thickly sliced and perfectly pink Alentejano pork leg was a heartier dish but still very light, sprinkled with tiny, chewy cockles, spinach and coriander.
To fill any empty nooks and crannies (that weren’t occupied by bread), we indulged in a Marinhoa beef stew. The hearty dish was balanced by crumbled walnuts, refreshing slices of radish, and a tangy herb dressing drizzled on top.
The Lisboans + Mercearia Prado
If you eat the way I do (see: too much), then you’re probably familiar with the sleepiness that inevitably follows overindulging in a fantastic meal. You’ve unbuttoned your pants and gloomily ponder how you’re going to stay awake long enough to make the arduous trek back to your hotel.
If you’re looking for where to stay in Lisbon, proximity to Prado is reason enough to consider booking one of the 15 boutique apartments at The Lisboans.
Situated just above Prado Restaurant, the meticulously curated accommodations were renovated by owners Isaac and Tânia Almeida and architect Marta Fonseca, the same team behind the eatery.
While each unit at The Lisboans is slightly different from one another, they all exude a cozy, lived-in charm that will chase away any lingering homesickness. The living spaces feature a mix of antique and custom furniture crafted in Portugal while the floor-to-ceiling windows offer gorgeous views.
The best part is that you can start the morning off with a breakfast of fresh bread and orange juice, delivered in a custom-printed, canvas tote bag.
And if you’re coveting the stellar produce showcased in the dishes at Prado in Lisbon, you can grab items at the grocery store conveniently attached to the eatery. Mercearia Prado stocks all the fresh, high quality products that the chef uses in his menu from canned fish and ham to gourmet sandwiches and desserts — everything you need for an epic picnic.
Whether you eat at the restaurant, stay at the apartment-style hotel or shop at the market, it’s a holistic and immersive experience for first-time visitors to the city!
Location: Tv. Pedras Negras 2, 1100-404 Lisboa, Portugal
Price Range: $$
Type of Food: European, Portuguese, farm-to-table
Good for: Vegetarian and vegan-friendly, casual special occasion
Tips: Make a reservation in advance
Nearby: Lisbon Cathedral
I’m writing this post with a heart full of hope. We may not be able to travel right this minute BUT fingers crossed that we will be able to explore different cities and get back to indoor dining again by the end of the year. Prado Restaurant was one of my favourite discoveries in Lisbon so may sure it’s one your must-visit list.
For a fully planned trip, check out my 10-day curated itinerary of Portugal.
Keep your stalking game strong and follow me @teriaki if you aren’t already!