Jose Avillez

Jose Avillez knows what’s happening in Portuguese dining circles. Not just at the top end – his restaurant Belcanto by Jose Avillez is currently ranked 42nd on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and was Portugal’s first restaurant to receive two Michelin stars – but at the casual, family-friendly end of the spectrum, too. From tascas (a casual, local restaurant) to white tablecloths, this is where the influential, award-winning chef takes visitors to when they come to Lisbon.
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Sunday Lunch With The Family

In Cascais, my home town when I was born, there’s a lovely seafood restaurant called Mar do Inferno. It’s right on the ocean, by a fishermen’s village, so the waves are breaking on the rocks. It’s a very beautiful place. I like to go there on Sundays and have lunch with my family. It’s only about a 25-minute drive from Lisbon, so it’s quite easy to get to.

The Most Magical View

On the way to Cascais beach is Estrada do Guincho; a road that has two or three restaurants that are in the most amazing spots. There are no houses nearby, only the landscape with the sand dunes and the sea, which is no more than 20 metres away; it really has the most magical view. It’s the perfect place to go and relax. We’re actually opening our new restaurant Maré, there very soon. Maré will offer something different to the surrounding restaurants; the focus will still be on seafood, but we will be bringing those ingredients together in a more contemporary way.

Seafood In Central Lisbon

For seafood in central Lisbon, you also have Cervejaria Ramiro. It’s a very good place, but now it’s full – I mean, really full of tourists. But I still really like to bring a lot of people there, but during the summer when it’s less crowded. It’s popular for a good reason; the ingredients and products are very good. The atmosphere is casual, but when it’s busy people will be lining up by the door, putting coins in the vending machine to drink beers while they wait.

“One Of The Best Places For Traditional Food In Portugal”

Magano is a neighbourhood restaurant where the Portuguese locals really love to go. You won’t find any tourists here. It’s a simple restaurant serving traditional food from Alentejo, in the South of Portugal. For me right now, it’s one of the best places for traditional food in Portugal. It’s honest cooking, using fantastic ingredients to make very typical dishes. It’s really a restaurant that people should know and visit. Be sure to get a few starters to share – their rice and cod dishes are amazing. Everything on the menu is really good. It’s a restaurant you can feel very confident about.

Where The Locals Lunch

Zé da Mouraria is another neighbourhood restaurant that I really like. This is the place that I bring friends and chefs when they’re visiting me in Lisbon – they love it. It’s what we call a tasca – a very casual restaurant, that’s always full of locals. It’s on a small street in one of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods, and they serve very typical Portuguese food. They’re only open for lunch and offer about five or six dishes per day. On Fridays and Saturdays, you can try their specialty; a beautiful grilled cod fish with chickpeas and onions – it’s amazing. It’s very simple, very honest food, but with a lot of identity. They also do an amazing dish of pork liver that they slice very thinly and serve with a beautiful sauce; it’s a dish that’s very typical here in Lisbon, but they do it so well. The portions are big, so bring some friends to try a few different dishes.

An Intimate 14-Seater Where Guests Dine Together

The last three years have been an exciting time for the dining scene here in Lisbon. We’ve seen a lot of new restaurants open, and while I haven’t been able to try them all, there are a couple that I have been able to experience, and really enjoyed. Ceia, a 14-seat restaurant from a chef that used to work with me, Pedro Pena Bastos, is definitely a place that people are talking about. He’s cooking very good Portuguese food using local ingredients with great technique and creativity. Dining there has a unique informal and local feeling because you sit around a table, together with all of the other guests. It’s different, especially for Lisbon, but it’s amazing.

Modern Portuguese

There’s also Prado; a great restaurant from chef Antonio Galapito. For me, Prado has a lot of London influence, which makes sense as Antonio used to work for Nuno Mendes in London. He uses great ingredients to make creative but simple dishes; good, tasty food that is not pretentious. It’s not very usual to see that kind of food, and it’s certainly not very usual to see in Portugal. I think it’s a great place for people to try when they’re in Lisbon. Tasca da Esquina is from Vítor Sobral; one of the first chefs to create modern Portuguese cuisine. He never went into fine dining but was the first to develop creative dishes using traditional Portuguese flavours. It’s a place that’s really nice to see.

For Something Different

Rei da China, meaning King of China, is a restaurant that I helped my friend Estanis Carenzo open. He’s an Argentinian chef cooking Portuguese-Asian cuisine. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive to most Asian countries, so there’s a lot of influences; what we took with us, and what we brought back here to Portugal. It’s interesting, beautiful food.

Special Occasion Dining

To celebrate special occasions, I have to admit that I go one of my own venues, Beco Cabaret Gourmet. I just love it – it’s so much fun and entertaining. They have amazing cabaret shows and great food. It’s one that I don’t only recommend, but that I personally love to go to.

When I Want to Escape The City

On my days off I try to leave Lisbon and get out of the city. Less than an hours’ drive from Lisbon is Ericeira, a beautiful seaside fishing town. It’s full of great seafood restaurants, and there are a few good pizzerias with a nice beach view. It’s quite cheap, too. When the weather is nice, it’s the perfect spot to go and have a good time.

Selected Works: Cantinho do Avillez – As Receitas (Portuguese Edition) (2013)

Guide last updated January 2020

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