There’s nothing like a steaming seafood stew to raise your spirits—and that’s exactly what this traditional dish does. Here’s where to get the best cataplana in Lisbon!
If you’ve ever been to a traditional Portuguese restaurant or eaten with a Portuguese family, you know how much this country loves seafood. It’s no wonder; much of it is coastal, with a history closely linked to maritime exploration. This is what infuses Lisbon with its seafaring spirit—and there’s perhaps no better culinary reflection of that identity than cataplana.
Cataplana takes its name from the vessel it’s cooked and served in: a clamshell-shaped container made of copper, aluminum or steel. The ingredients are placed in the bottom half, the top half is closed and sealed, it’s placed over heat and the food is left to slowly steam. Because this technique originated in the coastal Algarve region, it’s traditionally used to make fish or seafood (although it can also be used for other dishes).
The best cataplana in Lisbon reflects this coastal legacy, bringing authentic flavors from the south of Portugal straight to your plate. So where can you find this amazing dish in Portugal’s capital? Here are our top six favorite restaurants in Lisbon to eat cataplana!
1. Aqui Há Peixe
This place’s name literally means “there’s fish here”—but not just any fish. At Aqui Há Peixe, Chef Miguel Reino sources fresh seafood from the local market each day. The cataplana de frutos do mar is made with seafood, tomatoes, onions, garlic, white wine and herbs. It’s a simple recipe that lets the ingredients shine, served in a colorful and inviting atmosphere right in the middle of the Chiado neighborhood.
2. Peixaria da Esquina
This is a beloved local spot in Campo de Ourique, fusing creativity and tradition with the best local products. Peixaria da Esquina focuses firmly on seafood, including four different varieties of cataplana featuring fish, cod, shrimp and shellfish. They claim to serve “the best fish in the world,” and while that’s an ambitious statement, it’s certainly among the best seafood in Lisbon. You may have to come back several times to try it all.
3. Cataplana do Bairro
As its name suggests, cataplana is the star of the show here. This casual neighborhood restaurant serves six different kinds of seafood cataplana, plus a vegetarian option, as well as rice dishes and other specialties. Cataplana do Bairro is the perfect place for a weekday lunch, offering a three-course menu with a drink and coffee for just €9.90. It’s proof that you don’t need to spend a lot to have an authentic experience.
4. O Arco
It doesn’t get much more classic than O Arco, a traditional seafood restaurant in Lisbon’s Baixa neighborhood. Their cataplana is legendary, brimming with shrimp, mussels, clams and more. Prices are reasonable, portions are generous and the atmosphere is super authentic, with a soundtrack of old-school blues. You can expect personal service from the owner and his son to round out an awesome experience. This place is small and popular, so try to book in advance!
Undoubtedly one of the best seafood restaurants in Lisbon, this is the kind of place where history suffuses every bite. Since 1937, Gambrinus has been welcoming high-profile public figures, local residents and tourists alike to enjoy its traditional cuisine and elegant ambiance. The house cataplana for two is a bit pricey, but here you’re paying for more than just the food itself. Settle in and admire the sophisticated decor as you savor each spoonful.
6. Farol de Santa Luzia
Located in Bairro Alto, this charming restaurant in Lisbon serves some of the city’s best cataplana, hands down. The cataplana de peixes à Farol comes with shrimp, clams, tomatoes, onions, peppers and plenty of garlic. Farol de Santa Luzia also offers a version with pork loin, chouriço and bacon—yes, cataplana can also include meat! Both are served in beautiful copper pans, a final detail that makes each meal here truly memorable.
Melissa first moved to Madrid to explore her interests in linguistics and communication, and quickly fell in love with the city’s culture and cuisine. She’s particularly passionate about Spanish vermouth and canned seafood, and makes it a point to drench absolutely everything in olive oil.