Gayola Steakhouse & Bar Lisbon, a Calm Oasis in the Middle of Vortex
Steakhouses in Lisbon are plenty, and this is where the complexity comes from when you need to choose. You might enjoy being surrounded by lots of people and a lively atmosphere. We all do from time to time!
But have you ever wondered where you could have an insanely delicious veal steak while sipping from a glass of wine in dim light, calmly listening to your partner and discussing the day?
- Address: Rua da Imprensa Nacional, 116b, Lisbon, Portugal
- Neighbourhood: Principe Real — Rato
- Opening hours: 19:00–02:00, except Tuesdays (closed)
- Atmosphere: artsy, poetic, calm, private, familiar
- Service: Amicable and accommodating
- Price Range: starter (pataniscas de alheira) + their best stake (delicious!!), accompanied by homemade (REAL!) french fries or fresh salad + melty chocolate cake with ginjinha + a bottle of vinho verde –> ~ 55 Euros (For two people)
Hidden on a tiny street between Jardim do Principe Real and Rato, far enough for a private conversation, but close enough from the insane party neighbourhood to hop in after dinner, we found Gayola Steakhouse by pure chance. Back then, my husband and I were living near Bairro Alto, so the location was very convenient. After trying another place, but being full, we’ve decided to give it a shot to this new venue.
From the moment we entered, we felt a sense of familiarity. We were greeted with a big smile and a firm handshake and invited to one of the vintage tables. Starting the conversation with the owners, we discovered that the place was not so newly open as we believed. They were curious about our story, so we chatted for some time about how life brought us to Lisbon.
We were so impressed to hear that one of them knew some Romanian words and even speaking French! Plus the excellent English! I was, too, practising my Portuguese.
While checking the menu, I couldn’t skip the unusual design of the furniture around us. After having a closer look around, we’ve observed different remarkable pieces. An old style closet with a beautiful piano next to it, the antique tables carrying you in a past time, a peacock light with its bright tail staying proudly over some colourful pieces of cloths or the poetry light right over the black piano that was catching my eyes! I couldn’t stay there and not read the lines. It was so beautiful that I immediately fell in love with the place!
I was curious to find out more about the design and…where the poem came from. That’s how I learnt that all furniture was, in fact, some old pieces refurbished by a local artist, who also created the poem and the entire outstanding interior.
Being in awe and wondering with my eyes around, the owner, cheerfully, as always, asked for our order.
Our meals always started with some pataniscas de alheira, a delectable Portuguese petisco, made out of chicken sausage mixed with fresh homemade dough. As many pataniscas I tried in Lisbon, being something quite widespread, I’ve never had better ones than at Gayola’s.
As we wanted to try their best beef, for the main course, we took the sirloin steak (bife do lombo), but not before receiving all explanations about each type of meat they had. It came with crunchy homemade french fries (real ones, not frozen!), or a big colourful salad, with patiently arranged fresh tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber and enough olive oil and vinaigrette seasoning to experience the real taste of a garden salad. We were professionally asked how we wanted it to be cooked, well done, medium or rare. Like in a proper steakhouse.
The accompanying sauce was just adding to its great taste. I ordered the pepper sauce, but you could choose from three more others: coffee sauce, basil sauce (named gayola), and a mustard one. Depending on your preferences, they can add it directly on top (as it was preferred by my husband) or on the side (preferred by me).
It was the best veal stake I’ve eaten in Lisbon. Until that moment and many other times after. We took our time to savour each and every single bite of the buttery flavour.
As I am not drinking red wine, we flawlessly matched it with green wine (vinho verde), which was elegantly served, after giving us the chance to taste it in advance. As the portions were pretty big, I was struggling to finish. Yet, to be honest, it was so delicious, that I didn’t want to leave anything untouched! It would have been a pity!
All this symphony of tastes was well accompanied at the end by their homemade chocolate cake. Freshly made every day, we were never leaving the place without at least one slice. Served with the Portuguese liquor, ginjinha, it was the perfect way to finish dinner in big time. (Ok, maybe a good quality cafe after)
It all comes down to life principles, even if we talk about…well, a steakhouse in Lisbon
The prices were not low, but not very high either. However, the quality was top every single time. This is another point I always appreciated. It was never about the price, but the quality. Their policy, as far as I could see, was to keep the quality high and the cost as best as possible.
It is indeed a private oasis for the ones who want to enjoy the time with their family, friends or beloved ones. You can thus have a relaxed dinner without any cutlery and dishes being banged around and without the coffee machine buzzing.
We definitely loved this steakhouse in Lisbon and made sure to show it to all our family and friends. At Gayola we met ones of the calmest and welcoming people in Lisbon that made us feel like we appertain to that city. As I always say, it is not only about the food but about the service and the principles we share together. In Romanian, we have a saying that would translate into English as “It is the person that blesses the place”.
Professionalism, friendship, tolerance, integrity and…family, this is what Gayola experience meant for me for the entire two years I’ve lived there.
Originally published at anabriard.com on February 12, 2019.