You really know that summer has arrived in Lisbon when you see more and more people sitting at outdoor cafés with their beer before sunset time until late into the evening. The outdoor café culture is, unsurprisingly, quite popular in Portugal as is the case in other Southern European countries.
What encourages these long hours of sipping beer or wine while eating typical Portuguese snails or olives outdoors is obviously the great weather, but also the relatively affordable prices of cafés and restaurants in the Portuguese capital (and of course it gets even cheaper outside central Lisbon).
With the relative increase in the Covid-19 infection rate in Lisbon since the lockdown was lifted, outdoor cafés are even more popular, with people tending to keep their gatherings small and in open air spaces.
The following recommendations are my absolute personal favorite cafes with outdoor seating area.
Not only does each one of them offer something quite special, but they are also great options for reasonably safe socializing:
No Lisboeta does not know Botequim. The Portuguese poet Natália Correia opened the space in 1968 and the café maintains its antiquey look in the inside. Botequim has a bohemian air and one more rare plus point: I have not seen any other place in Lisbon which is frequented by locals, expats, and tourists in equal measure. It has a real cosmopolitan spirit.
It is the place for the best value for the money cocktails in Lisbon. A mojito is only 4 euros! Their Sangria is also one of the best.
Because of the new restrictions in Lisbon (no place may be served alcohol after 8 p.m. without food), many people go for cocktails around 6 p.m. and start ordering food at 8 to continue their evening. Their food is quite good and affordable. Try their filling bruschettas with chips for 5 euros.
Musicians come every evening to play in the square as well. It is a perfect balance of being outdoors, listening to live music and trying really good drinks.
Botequim, Largo da Graça 79, 1170-165 Lisboa
TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars out of 5, 99 reviews.
Rémi Coffee & Wine
If you appreciate Italian food as much as I do, Rémi will be your culinary Disneyland. From proper Italian coffee to Aperol Spritz to very good quality wine, Rémi has the right drink for you. The staff is one of the friendliest as well. If in doubt, always ask them for recommendations.
Couple your coffee with one of their mouth-watering desserts whether it’s tiramisu or cannoli or their exceptional chocolate torrone. If you are going for wine or a cocktail, order their delicious lasagna at 8 pm. As an added bonus, the café also sells original Italian products: pasta, biscuits, liquors, gnocchi, ground coffee and much more.
I sometimes leave with their amazing Taleggio cheese to eat later at home. They’ll cut you a slice of as many grams as you want. It’s no more expensive than supermarket cheese and definitely so much better. My Italian friend swears by their Gorgonzola, but I have not tried it yet.
By the way, Kristina Romar, creator of Rémi, is an expat, born in Estonia.
Rémi, R. Gomes Freire 146 b, 1150-180 Lisboa
Trip advisor rating – 5 stars out of 5, 12 reviews.
Fábrica de Nata
Who said you have to go all the way to Belém for pasteis de nata? The typical Portuguese custard tarts can also be enjoyed in Fábrica de Nata right in the heart of the city. The chain has a few locations in Lisbon, but my personal favorite is the Restauradores branch for how big its outdoor space is.
FdN has great offers such as: one pastel de nata plus Porto wine for only 3 euros. And guess what? It is a match made in heaven. The sweet Portuguese wine goes really well with the tarts. I never knew they could both go so well. It is kind of counter-intuitive as they are both quite sweet, but trust me, you will like it.
For earlier in the day, go for coffee with the tart for under 2 euros. Having tried so much pasteis de nata during my stay in Lisbon, I would say that Fábrica de Nata is one of the best go-to options for real, fresh, made in-front-of-you Portuguese custard pleasures.
Fábrica de Nata, Praça dos Restauradores 62 -68, 1250-110 Lisboa
TripAdvisor rating: 4.5 stars out of 5, 1,963 reviews.
Josephine Bistro & Bar
Josephine lies in Intendente Square. The Square is home to several cafes and bars; however, Josephine is my favorite. It’s only 200 meters from Intendente metro station. The café is a great option for Sunday brunches under 10 euros. They also make omelets, toasts, and other snacks.
What I really appreciate about Josephine is that it has the best value for quality compared to the other cafés and bars in the Square. I totally recommend their Sangria. For a late night out, you can couple your drink with their delicious homemade burgers.
The variety and quality of food options make Josephine your go-to option if you are planning to stay out after 8 p.m. They also have vegan burgers and other options for people with dietary requirements. The overall ambience of the Square is something I really appreciate. It has quite a local vibe and you would really feel that you are in one of the night life centers in Lisbon.
Josephine, Largo do Intendente Pina Manique 59, 1100-285 Lisboa
TripAdvisor rating – 4.5 stars out of 5, 238 reviews.
Fábrica Coffee Roasters
If you’re like me and a good cup of coffee has a special place in your heart, you need to pay Fábrica a visit. People who appreciate coffee know that it is not only about special blends, complex flavors and intensity, but it is also about the ambience, the background music, and even the pastry or the piece of cake which complements your coffee experience.
Fábrica is one of the best coffee places in Lisbon. If you prefer your coffee with milk, they have a wide selection of normal milk, oats milk, almond milk, etc. What makes a trip to Fabrica extra special is that you could also buy a bag of their freshly ground coffee beans to make it yourself at home. They also carry a lot of coffee speciality equipment, which you also buy online.
Of course, a cup of coffee there costs a bit more than what you get in an average Portuguese café, but it is definitely a much better coffee than what you normally get anywhere else in Lisbon. For coffee lovers, the treat of a real good cup of coffee every now and again is indispensable.
Fábrica Coffee Roasters, Rua das Portas de Santo Antao 136, Lisbon 1150-269 Portugal
TripAdvisor rating – 4.5 stars out of 5, 696 reviews.
Every single one of these cafes is not only rich in its food and beverage flavors, but also in its outdoor ambience. Well, we know that places have their own flavors too, right? And the fun part of the expat life is that you get to distinguish these flavors immediately as you approach them with a fresh new eye and with a kind of an adventurous spirit.
Lisbon is facing, of course, like many places worldwide, challenges related to the pandemic. However, there is still room to enjoy a nice cocktail and dinner in the beautiful Portuguese sunset.
About the author:
Sarah Nagaty is a PhD researcher of cultural studies in Lisbon. She’s lived in Portugal for two years.
As a student of cultural studies, Sarah is drawn to what connects people from different backgrounds to new cultures and places, how they relate to their new surroundings and what kind of activities they could engage with in their new hometowns.
See all of Sarah’s Dispatches posts here.
See Dispatches’s Lisbon story archive here.