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Best vegetarian Portuguese food restaurants in Lisbon

We are lucky that Lisbon’s food scene is extremely rich these days, and even vegetarians and vegans are well catered for. Traditional Portuguese food is quite dependent on animal protein and, perhaps with the exception of the regional cuisine from Alentejo, you’d be hard pressed to find many main dishes that are even ovo-lacto vegetarian. But here in the Portuguese capital, we do have plenty of vegetarian and vegan restaurants to choose from, and the same happens up north, in Porto, the country’s second largest city.


What ends up happening when we talk about restaurants which focus on vegetable forward cuisine is that, the vast majority of them will focus on international trends or simply have a menu which has no particular identity. But, at the end of the day, you could have pancakes, an avocado toast or a smoothie anywhere in the world, right?


That’s why we thought that, today, we’d highlight Portuguese food in its vegetarian version so that, no matter what your dietary preferences are like, you can have a taste of what local flavors are all about. Interestingly enough, many of these recommendations are accidentally vegan - we have marked those below with the symbol 🌱. We’re highlighting restaurants which aren’t in all cases entirely dedicated to Portuguese food, but that mostly feature Portuguese items on their menu.


There are the best restaurants where you can eat typical vegetarian Portuguese food in Lisbon:


🌱 A Minha Avó


We start this list with a restaurant that is 100% vegan and 100% dedicated to typical Portuguese recipes, here obviously prepared in plant-based versions. If you are curious about super representative dishes of the national cooking repertoire such as duck rice (arroz de pato), oven-baked salt cod with cream (bacalhau com natas), or Portuguese style pork meat (carne de porco à portuguesa), you can taste them here. It’s easy: the duck is replaced by mushrooms, the cod gives way to tofu, and the texture of pork is emulated with home-made seitan, which is marinated in a way that results pretty close to what some would call “the real deal”. Even Francesinha, the most iconic dish from Porto, which consists of a grilled sandwich stuffed with a great variety of meats, covered in a special tomato and beer sauce, customarily topped with melted cheese and, in some cases, a fried egg, is on the menu. Amongst all dishes prepared by A Minha Avó, which translates as “my Grandma”, clearly showcasing that they aim at serving home-style food (something even the older members of the family would approve of), their bitoque (pictured here) is perhaps the most surprising. This is one of the go-to dishes folks order in Portugal when they’re hungry. Some restaurants will make you a bitoque even if it’s not listed on the menu. It usually consists of a thin beef steak pan fried with olive oil, bay leaf and garlic, served with a fried egg on top, and sides such as steamed rice, fries and a little mixed salad. Our favorite plant-based Grandma here in Lisbon makes bitoque with seitan and a surprising fried egg which doesn’t of course taste like a chicken egg, but that does indeed fulfill quite a bit the craving for it, with a flavor and texture many customers applaud and come back to enjoy time and time again.


When it comes to sweet dishes, they have rotating cakes prepared by the local duo of bakers Naveganu, who you will be able to meet at events and fairs such as the Lisbon Vegan Market (which normally happens at least once a month, in the neighborhood of Marvila). On any other given day, there are several sweets on the menu, including some of Portugal’s classics on restaurants: bolo de bolacha (a layered cake with Marie biscuits dunked in coffee and buttercream), doce da casa (an iconic dessert which includes custard, whipped cream and crushes biscuits), and their own version of pastel de nata. Pastel de nata da Avó has very little to do with the original. This reinvented version is decidedly more modern as the custard is presented inside a roll of flaky pastry, almost like a travesseiro, served with a scoop of ice-cream and a simple but pretty platting.


📍Av. António Augusto de Aguiar n74B, 1050-016 Lisbon



🌱 Ao 26 Vegan Food Project


Orteá Vegan Collective (formerly known as O Botanista - Rua Dom Luís I 19) is one of the highest rated vegan restaurants in Lisbon. Ao 26 Vegan Food Project is its sister business and, to the contrary of Orteá (where you can, for example, have delightful food, including a cheese board of cashew based specialities crafted in house), it focuses mostly on Portuguese flavors. This is no run of the mill corner restaurant though. Here you’ll find beautifully crafted dishes, with exquisite presentation and while the prices are not particularly high, they’re also not the most affordable. Yet we think a visit to Ao 26 while in Lisbon is very worth it - even if you are not following a plant-based diet!


Ao 26’s take on Portuguese dishes is very creative and not only have they managed to veganize items which one wouldn't usually come across in plant-based versions, they’ve done so while also elevating those recipes, flavor wise and in terms of modern platting to. If you’re unsure of what to order, we’d highly recommend getting your meal experience started with the assorted Portuguese petiscos. This appetizer includes a board perfect for sharing with at least one more person, featuring “octopus” salad, fried “cuttlefish'' and fritters with alheira, a typical sausage from the northern interior region of the country, typically made with meat, here in a vegetable version packed with flavor. If you’re wondering how do they serve “octopus” and “cuttlefish”, of course we’d have to explain that they do not cook the actual seafood, but they take advantage of the fleshy texture of mushrooms such as pleurotus eryngii, prepared in powerful marinades, to deliver the nostalgic flavors that most of us here in the country grew up eating and loving. When it comes to main dishes, at Ao 26 you’ll be able to choose from a range of recipes inspired in some of the country’s most popular fish (special ovation goes to the melancholic “sardine”,a tribute to Lisbon’s traditional meal of grilled sardines, here prepared with tofu and seaweed - pictured above) and meat dishes, as well as ingenious signature preparations which mix Portuguese essence with international influences, such as their pasta with Bulhão Pato sauce, a sauce most typical used to prepare clams. Whatever happens when you come to Ao 26, do not skip dessert (and even their signature cocktails). Honestly, everything is just so good at Ao 26 Vegan Food Project, that we would just recommend you come with friends, so that you can order as many dishes as possible to share and, while at it, try different items from the menu!


📍Rua Horta Seca 5, 1200-213 Lisbon



🌱 Kong - Food Made With Compassion


Kong might not have the most extensive menu, but everything they cook tastes amazing and, furthermore, they cook with a purpose. Visiting their website, for instance, you’ll find the sections “Purpose”, “Menu”, “Team”, “Activism” and ”Our Vision”, which already says a lot about the beautiful mindset behind his business. In their own words, the “purpose is to increase animal and human happiness by having a caring team that enables meaningful gastronomic experiences to our clients”.


This way of thinking translates into very well crafted dishes which, in many of the cases, are good representations of classic Portuguese flavors. As appetizers, they serve remarkable alheira croquetes as well as Portuguese style skewers, even if they do present them with sauces which you couldn’t normally come across in a traditional local eatery. The real highlight at Kong, thought, are the main dishes, particularly the bitoque (the steak with a fried “egg” we describe above), the saucy Francesinha (stuffed with pleurotus mushrooms, organic tofu, chorizo, caramelized onions and sausage, immersed in signature Kong sauce and covered with melted cheese) and, our personal favorite, the “Happy Octopus”. This is a plant-based dish which emulates the flavors and textures of polvo à lagareiro, a quintessential Portuguese dish, featuring roasted octopus and potatoes, with luscious garlic infused olive oil. At Kong, the octopus is “happier” and made of mushrooms, accompanied by roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, spinach and bread crumbs. It’s hard to believe it until you try it, but Kong’s Happy Octopus really does capture the essence of Lagareiro style octopus quite closely, while being cruelty free.


📍Rua do Corpo Santo 2, 1200-129 Lisbon



🌱daTerra


daTerra, with restaurants both in Bairro alto and in Parque das Nações (Oriente) is a great option for an uncomplicated week-day lunch. They run buffet style and include many options, Portuguese and international. The brand is originally from the north of the country and they are present in several cities across Portugal, Porto, Faro, Viseu, Aveiro and Guimarães. Besides being an establishment that serves meals, daTerra also does catering services and they have a cooking school where they sporadically organize themed culinary workshops.


If you’re hungry when you come to daTerra, be happy to know that they have a delicious menu which not only rotates every day, it also changes twice a day, as the offerings for lunch and dinner vary (and can be checked here). As such, this makes it one of those restaurants that you can keep going back to without getting bored. They may serve international things like ceviche or borek, but they also work on very Portuguese flavors such as roasted tofu with potatoes and sauteed turnip greens (something we’d traditionally eat with salt cod instead of tofu), or seitan with leek. One of daTerra’s specialities, and something that keeps many of us going back for more is, without a doubt, their range of pastries and desserts. From vegan pastel de nata to tarts featuring flavors like lemon and lime, chocolate, apple, berries and more. Their cakes can also be ordered full for take-away.


📍Bairro Alto: Rua da Rosa 51, 1200-382 Lisbon

📍Parque das Nações: Av. Dom João II 25A, 1990-079 Lisbon



🌱 Gupi Vegan Pastry


Gupi isn’t exactly a restaurant, but a brand of itinerant homemade vegan food regularly present at events such as the Lisbon Vegan Market, the Anjos 70 Vegan Market and, on a weekly basis, at Mercado de Santa Clara, in parallel with Feira da Ladra, that is, the flea market which takes place in the area every Tuesday and Saturday.


We ought to highlight Gupi because their vegan version of bifana, one of the national sandwiches of Portugal, which normally consists of marinated pork stuffed in a bun, is ridiculously good. While most restaurants in Lisbon prepare bifanas with seitan, at Gupi they do it with soy chunks, in a marinade which is honestly very, very good. It is not easy to make something like textured soy taste good, and even less so for it to have a succulent texture, but at Gupi that is a given. You can try their bifana plain or in the sublime version, with a variety of juicy toppings such as mushrooms and cheese. Besides this “meat” sandwich, Gupi has a very good range of pastries and home-made desserts, from pastel de nata to pies and mousses. Everything sold at Gupi is entirely home-made. This is a lovely family run business, operated by a duo who’s actually a couple - she'll take your order, he'll cook your bifana. So simple, and so good!


📍Pop up in market and events



🌱 Green Beans


Green Beans is not a restaurant, but an eco vegan market which also houses a little cafe with light meals, as well as sweet and savory treats. Under the same roof, you could buy yourself a pair of vegan shoes, a bamboo toothbrush, shop for basic grocery items at home (including lovely wines with vegan certified label), or sit down to enjoy their range of foods. In fact, we like coming here for a little shopping, followed by a bite.


They prepare a good plant-based burger but, our favorite things to eat at Green Beans are the cakes and the savory snacks. On the sweet side, they have things like pastel de nata, as well as super typical items for a Portuguese breakfast such as croissant brioche which, if you like the combination of sweet and salty, they can even stuff with things like plant based “ham” and “cheese”. Perhaps the items that stand out the most from the counter at the cafe section of Green Beans are the empadas. These are Portugal’s take on pies, with a shortcrust type of pastry and various fillings, such as tofu and leek, or vegan alheira and spinach. Their puff pastry pockets with fillings emulating several meats are also not to miss. Eat there or take home - no matter where you are, you will certainly enjoy it!


📍Rua Chagas 31, 1200-106 Lisbon



🌱 Vegan Nata


Is there anything more Portuguese than a pastel de nata? Well, at least when it comes to sweets, there certainly isn’t! And how glad are we that the vegan travelers who visit us don’t have to miss out on this truly special and representative treat. By default, pastel de nata is vegetarian, even though it contains animal derived ingredients such as milk and eggs. In some cases, the puff pastry is made with butter, even though in the vast majority of pastry shops, vegetable margarine is the fat of choice. Back in the day and, still today, but in very rare occasions, pork lard may also be used, but this is indeed a rarity, To enjoy plant based Portuguese custard tarts in Lisbon you have a few options, but the one that is indeed 100% vegan and 100% dedicated to this sweet speciality is Vegan Nata.


Vegan Nata has two locations, one in Bairro Alto and one in the lively neighborhood of Campo de Ourique. When this brand came about, many doubted that there was a market for vegan custard tarts or even that a fully vegan bakery, entirely dedicated to this speciality, would thrive. While in Bairro Alto the flow of tourists would easily make you understand why this brand is thriving, the truth is that they are also alive and well in Campo de Ourique, a super local neighborhood, so that goes towards showing how things are changing when it comes to the demand of plant-based typical sweets. Vegan Nata’s pastries come very close to the traditional recipe. Vegans will certainly not feel like they are missing out while traveling in Lisbon!


📍Campo de Ourique: Rua 4 de Infantaria 29 B, 1350-268 Lisbon

📍Chiado: Rua da Misericórdia 9, 1200-208 Lisbon


You don’t have to go to a fully plant-based restaurant to be able to enjoy Portuguese vegetarian dishes, but it certainly makes life easier and more enjoyable to have a wider range of choice. In regular eateries, some of the most common vegetarian items you’ll come across include typical Portuguese soups, side dishes such as migas or açorda (savory bread puddings), scrambles (our favorite is ovos com espargos, that is, scrambled ​​eggs with asparagus - usually enjoyed as an appetizer) and, thankfully, most of the desserts (even though some old time recipes, if still prepared the traditional way, may include pork lard instead of butter or margarine).



Are you following a vegetarian or vegan diet and you’re traveling in Lisbon? We’d love to hear your thoughts about the local plant-based food scene - feel free to get in touch with us on Instagram! #cookinglisbon


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COOKING LISBON

Cooking Lisbon

Rua Bernardim Ribeiro, 9

​1150-068 Lisboa, Portugal

(+351) 916 047 883

info@cookinglisbon.com

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