Being a vegetarian in Lisbon – who knew it would be this easy? Well, it wasn’t last year when I was randomly working at a hostel bar, but things have clearly changed and Lisbon is totally on the come-up. Some have said it’s the next Berlin, a “startup heaven” and new “hipster central,” but whatever, what that really means to me: more and more vegetarian options. In my two weeks here, I set out to try as many vegetarian restaurants in Lisbon as possible; here’s what I recommend:
A nice selection of soups, salads, warps – the whole deal, but of course, I couldn’t deny the urge of a bowl of açai, granola, and banana for €4.50. I was also surprised that I was the only one in there at 12:36pm when the food was good, cheap, and they were playing Ashanti and Ja Rule classics.
My favorite. It’s a bit smaller and always looks closed from the street, but once you’re inside you’ll most likely see a lunch or dinner line wrapping around the other customers eating. For €4, you get three choices of what they’re offering for the day. For 4 “sides” you’ll pay €5, and for 5 sides you’ll pay €6. Each meal comes with salad and hot tea. This place feels the most Portuguese of all the vegetarians on this list. It’s the cheapest, most authentic, and probably the most central, located in Chiado. I also think they’re veggie meat tastes better, but maybe I’m just biased because it’s cheap and I like the staff that works there.
If you’re visiting the Calouste Gulbenkian museum (which you should), check out this vegetarian restaurant right in front of the gardens. They offer different daily hot options; in this case, I got the seitan and beans (if I translated the menu correctly), and some sort of veggie meat in warm carrot sauce – sounds very odd, tastes very good.
To be honest, I was pretty much bitter eating a meal that cost the same amount (€12.50) as it would back home but because it was number 1 on every “Vegetarian Restaurants in Lisbon” list, I had to eat here (although I did walk away twice before finally returning). The place feels upscale-casual (or at least more than every other place on this list) and it’s much more of a take-your-colleagues-out-to-lunch place or a place to charm your mom when she’s visiting. Although you pay €12.50 for lunch buffet and €15.90 for the dinner buffet, you can really tell the quality of food here is better.
The next essential spot you need to know as a vegetarian in Portugal is a healthy grocery store chain named Celeiro. No, it doesn’t mean celery (*cellar), although their logo is bright green. Celeiros tend to be located right outside of major Walmart-like supermarkets like Jumbo or Continente, although I have eaten in some that are standalone stores. You can get your organic groceries here like almond milk, diet bars, and protein powders, but they also tend to have cafés within the store with cheap meal deals between €4-6. The below photo is an example of the large soup, quiche, and natural juice meal deal. I have returned twice to simply buy some of their spinach and ricotta empanadas and soy burgers à la carte. Oh, they’ve also got Wi-Fi and seats. See, everything is possible at Celeiro.
YAO Pressed Juicery
I’m writing this paragraph with this YAO body-builder banana and almond butter smoothie in my hand. For €3.90, I got a medium – a medium that the employee filled up to the very top maybe because I was speaking to her in Portuguese? The juicery itself is totally a walk-up kind of place. While there are no seats, it is directly located in front of a triangle plaza, where I’m currently sitting. This area, by the way, has become a pretty cool area with cool cafés like The Mill, Bar Real, Agua no Bica within a minute’s walk. Honestly, if not for this smoothie or juice, you should still come to this neighborhood.
Jardim das Cerejas
The fact that I was able to even find vegetarian restaurants in Lisbon open at 10:30pm surprised me. I ran over to this place, and buffet’d till I couldn’t buffet any more. Nothing was labeled, but it was all vegan. For €9.50 for the dinner buffet, the things I ate ranged from beans and seitan to tempeh lasagna to soy balls.
Every time I walk in here and tell myself, Damon, you’re going to order some coffee and that’s it, I end up ordering a yogurt bowl with fruit and granola, some toast with butter and jam, and a cocoa-banana smoothie that I drank after taking the below photo. They did work with their interior design and of all the places on this list, this one has the coziest vibe. They have pastries, coffee, tea, and small lunch options like quiches, salads, and soups. The yogurt bowl was €3.50, the toast was €1.40, and the coffee was €1.60.
Copenhagen Coffee Lab
This breakfast is my sh*t. For €6.50, you get any espresso drink, yogurt and granola, and this bread with jam and butter. Just writing this seriously makes me want to go there right now and order it…again. Let me just emphasize that it’s not just bread; it’s chewy and grainy, and while we’re at it, i’s also not just yogurt with granola. That granola is the oak-iesty, whole grain-iest granola I’ve ever eaten. And then we have the cappuccino, which carrying along with theme of superlatives here, probably wins my award for the best-tasting cappuccino in Lisbon.
I passed this healthy café while walking one day from the Academia gym in Santos. As soon as I saw the words ovos, I immediately ordered this scrambled egg tapioca crepe. After visiting most of the current vegetarian restaurants in Lisbon, I feel like I rarely come across eggs on the menu, or really anything marketing itself as gluten-free. Tapioca, if you’ve never eaten it in wrap-form, tastes very dry, almost like sandpaper (mmm). The first few bites may feel a bit bizarre, but then you’ll start enjoying the texture it adds to your food.
Just know that any organic (bio = organic) market most likely has a café hidden in it somewhere. This one is no different.
Farm Food Ink Food
Ok, yes, not only did the waitress bring me out the hot tofu and couscous plate when I ordered the carrot-spread tofu sandwich, and also forgot I ordered a banana-cocoa smoothie, but I forgive her because at least she was bubbly and pleasant to be around. This place felt the most like a traditional organic eatery, and its ingredients tasted the freshest of all the vegetarian restaurants on this list.
Lojas das Sopas
This is the best bang for your vegetarian buck in Portugal. Any time you find a food court, you’ll most likely find this too. You have four different meal deals for under €6.15. The meal deal I got included a quiche, a salad, a natural fruit juice, and half of a soup, which is really just a normal sized soup. It’s probably not the most organic or freshest place to eat, but it’s still tasty and worth visiting, especially if you’re not trying to break the bank. Another awesome vegetarian food court option is Joshua’s Shoarma (you don’t have to get falafel).
I never realized how much I love Vietnamese food until I entered a country where it’s not common – in this case, Portugal. I knew when I randomly stumbled up on this place in the food court of the mall at Saldanha, I had to order me some pho chay. That, and because it was only €5.90 for the small bowl. Although there were only two pieces of tofu in my soup, the broth was the right amount of salty and peanuty, so I ate here twice during my trip.
What other vegetarian restaurants in Lisbon would you recommend?