See what it’s like to eat at Cafe de Sao Bento, a clubby steak bar located near the Assembleia da República, Portugal’s Parliament. With its simple menu and quirky atmosphere, it’s our favorite steakhouse in Lisbon.
If you’re looking for a typical Lisbon restaurant featuring an outdoor terrace with a beautiful view, enclosed and clubby Café de São Bento isn’t that restaurant. But this Lisbon steakhouse, filled with good food and excellent old-school service, is a worthy destination that provides a quirky window into Portuguese culture.
Unless you know the address for Café de São Bento, it’s easy to walk past the classic restaurant that’s practically across the street from the Assembleia da República, Portugal’s Parliament.
Those who enter the intimate restaurant will discover a space decorated with wood trimmed walls, plaid banquettes, red carpet and brass fixtures that resemble a hoity-toity private club open since 1924. More about the restaurant’s real age later…
Food At Cafe De Sao Bento
Steak is the main event at Café de São Bento. Upon request, the juicy bife is topped with a bright orange fried egg called ovo a cavalo (i.e. on horseback). The steak is also smothered with a generous amount of signature tan cream sauce that’s reminiscent of au poivre without the poivre.
Rumor has it that Café de São Bento’s creamy sauce derives its tan complexion from the addition of a small amount of coffee. The sauce serves as an excellent dipping medium for the large bowl of crispy fries that accompany the melt-in-your-mouth steak.
We get that not everybody loves to eat steak smothered in sauce. If you fit into this category, you may want to order Cafe de São Bento’s Prego, a sandwich with a tender, thick slice of mid-rare cooked beef inside two slices of toasted bread. However, be aware that the classic sandwich is only available during lunch.
The relatively affordable menu has options for vegetarians as well as pleasant surprises for both wine drinkers and dessert eaters. We’re particularly partial to the restaurant’s Tarte Tatin which is served with ice cream.
Fun Fact About Cafe De Sao Bento
The most interesting feature of Cafe de São Bento? It’s age.
Though the restaurant appears to be 100 years old, it actually opened in 1982. Also interesting, it’s not the only Lisbon restaurant that serves Portuguese steak in this type of space. Yes, there are copycat steakhouses, like Café do Paço, in Lisbon but none quite live up to the original.
Café De São Bento FAQs
Making an online reservation is the easiest option and can be done via the restaurant’s website.
Café de São Bento’s signature steaks currently range from 24.50€ to 28.50€ depending on cut and size. Starters range from 11€ to 14.50€ while desserts cost 7€ to 11€. As always, prices are subject to change.
No. Tipping is optional in Portugal.
Café de São doesn’t have a dress code. We recommend smart but comfortable attire.
Café de São Bento is a 10 minute walk (down a steep hill) from the Rato metro station. Other options include walking, buses (including buses that leave from the Rato metro station if you don’t feel like traversing the hill), taxis and car services.
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About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: April 8, 2023