Since opening, XL has gained a loyal following among Lisbon’s moneyed gastronomic elite. In fact, much of the menu remains static as any attempts to modify are met with fierce protests from regulars demanding their favourite dishes. Diners ring a doorbell to enter, but are made to feel like guests the moment they step inside.
Colonial-inspired décor and a cosy backroom bar make this feel more like an inclusive country club. A mixed crowd of politicians, celebrities and American Express Gold Card holders let their hair down in the comfort of someone else’s dinner party. Tables fill up quickly and reservations are recommended.
Charismatic owner Vasco hosts the front of house, while his wife Claudia deftly commands the kitchen. The food is hearty and hellishly tasty desserts are not for the calorie-shy. An extensive wine list boasts some of the best Portuguese bottles in town and fine imported spirits from Russia and beyond. The atmosphere is lively and by 10pm the restaurant is filled with cigar smoke and peels of laughter. Be prepared to leave with a full belly and a stumble in your step.