Ok, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like South American flavors? You’re correct – the answer is: no one. Until a couple of years ago, it was a challenge to eat original and bold Mexican & Peruvian food in Lisbon, however, it’s becoming a huge trend and these 3 new restaurants are in the lead raising the bar – and best of all, they are open every single day. Forget the tourist traps and get ready because what you’ll read next involves loads of tequilas, tacos and ceviches!
Check the top 3 restaurants below, in no particular order:
El Clandestino was the biggest surprise of January 2016! We were losing hope because it took forever for them to pick up the phone and confirm availability (on a Saturday night) and since it has a great location just between Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real it is a challenge to get a reservation, so book it in advance.
It opened last November and its concept goes around Mexican and Peruvian cuisines meaning Tacos and Ceviches.
The dishes are meant to share and my recommendations would go to the Crunchy tuna tostada with sweet cucumber spaghetti, purple onion and chipotle mayo, for starter.
Their couvert with the dip fresh sauces and the homemade Totopos is just unmissable.
For the mains, the Cow tongue taco (yes, cow tongue) is really yum as well as the Pacific white fish and mango ceviche.
I still can taste in my mind the fantastic combination of crispiness and lovely soft batter of the Churros Garden dessert. When ordering it, ask for an extra churros supplement since originally it only comes with 6 small ones and because the jar contains a lot of dulce de leche and lime mousse foam for you to dip in, you’ll be licking your fingers until the next day.
A plus for the smiling and professional staff, the impressive fast service and the cozy rustic atmosphere.
Mock my words: El Clandestino will be one of THE restaurants to go in 2016. It ticks all the boxes.
Don’t miss: ohh the Margaritas! I would say some of the best I’ve drank so far with loads of authenticity and boldness. The Basil & Strawberry flavor is good but go also for the Triple Citrus with a strong citrus flavor (with orange, lime and lemon!). Next time on my list: the Jalapeñerita!
Hot tip: Go for a late dinner since it closes only at 2:00am and is located right in the entrance of the famous nightlife neighborhoods Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real. And if you intend to do it mexican way throughout the night, move on to Mezcal in Bairro Alto – just ask, everybody knows where the Mexican institution is. If you’re the type who loves chit chat with the bar owners, don’t lose the opportunity to do it with Manel Fradique – a gentleman expert in Mexican drinks.
Average price: 17,00€ – 20,00€ per person (excluding drinks)
Contact: (+351) 915 035 553
Address: Rua da Rosa 321, 1200-386, Lisboa
Opened everyday from 7:30pm to 2:00am
Chef Kiko Martins has a principle that I admire and share too which is: the most important in the kitchen is people. And this restaurant fits that purpose perfectly – it’s fully packed everyday!
With a premium location in Príncipe Real, the big octopus inside is the ultimate decoy to attract the ones passing by.
I must say that this is the only restaurant I can wait standing outside without bother! Why? Their cocktails!! Since the restaurant is really small they’ve the bar facing the main street in order to entertain guests while waiting so please do a favor to yourself and order a Pisco Sour – one of the best in the city – no joke!
Now food wise, despite the influences from Peru, you will tell from some of the ingredients’ selection why is this restaurant in Portugal and nowhere else. You can order your dishes individually. In terms of suggestions, whatever your order, please include the White fish ceviche with sweet mashed potato and tiger’s milk and the Surf & Turf sandwich of pork belly confit – yum as hell!
If you’re a tuna lover, I also suggest the Tuna ceviche with japanese influences.
For dessert, don’t leave without trying the Sweet quinoa brûlée with guava jam and guava foam – remarkably different.
Don’t miss: They have a tasting menu with 6 dishes (costing 35,00€ per person) so if you have time and don’t want to waste any choosing what to eat, go for it. The best way to try a good selection from their menu!
Hot tip: Since they don’t accept reservations, the best timing is either before 7:30pm or from 10:30pm / 11:00pm.
Average price: 25,00€ – 30,00€ per person (excluding drinks)
Contact: (+351) 218 038 815
Address: Rua Dom Pedro V, 129, Príncipe Real, Lisboa
Opened everyday from 12:30pm to 00:00am
Located in the vibrant area of Cais do Sodré, this restaurant reminds me of a mexican cabaret although I’ve never been in one in my life. Perhaps due to the low-medium light and rustic woody decor.
Bear in mind that there are two shifts on Fridays and Saturdays running from 8:00pm to 10:00pm and from 10:30pm to 2:00am, so if you’re driving, save some time to find a spot to park your car.
I suggest sharing the starters and then order a main per person. In terms of how to start your Mex journey, the Thin sliced fish of the day marinated in citrus, mango, chili and coriander, served on top of a large corn chip and the Octopus seasoned with Ancho chili on sweet potato chips, coriander and lime are definitely a go – both Gluten free!
The Chicken with cheese “Ceddar and Monterey-Jack” quesadilla, Portuguese chorizo, pico de gallo and sour cream is also a must order.
To complete your meal, do not leave without trying the 3 tortillas stuffed with chicken, chorizo and nuts topped with plum sauce and cheddar cheese served with salsa verde, crème fraîche and coriander.
They also serve breakfast / brunch which is unusual for a mexican restaurant. Nice move!
Don’t miss: Their couvert including Spicy peanuts with chili and lemon, homemade Totopos to dip in a Variety of mushrooms marinated in special dressing and chili. And to avoid being chili punched choose a Margarita (with salt and cayenne-pepper) or an Apple Mojito to keep up the spiciness.
Hot tip: Due to its location, depending on the day of the week, after dinner you’ll notice a mass movement of people drinking and chatting in the newest renovated nightlife area of the city – Cais do Sodré aka The Pink Street. Enjoy the chance and mingle with the locals!
Average price: 20,00€ – 25,00€ per person (excluding drinks)
Contact: (+351) 213 470 553
Address: Rua Remolares, 34, 1200-371, Cais do Sodré, Lisboa
Opened everyday, from Monday to Thursday (11:00am to 1:00am) and from Friday to Saturday (11:00 to 2:00am)