Our noses led us to the Frangasqueira Nacional (Rua da Imprensa Nacional 117, Lisbon, Portugal). We were on our way to another restaurant in the area when we smelled the delicious roast chicken and spotted the tiny shop down the travessa. We knew we absolutely had to return, so we stopped in a few days later. Though the name is a tongue twister, don’t be intimidated – it just means “national chicken shop.” True to form, all they sell are ribs, sausage and the piece de resistance: roast chickens! Though everything looks great, obviously you are here for the chicken.
This is a take-out-only shop and 2/3rds of the store is given over to a giant charcoal grill with an expert griller manning it. When we popped in on a rainy night, the entire grill was full of spatchcocked chickens with various stages of char, and a small line of hungry Lisboetas. Everything in the shop is sold by weight (chicken is €16 a kilo), along with a small selection of extras including fries, rice, tomato salad, chocolate cake, and a refrigerator of cold drinks and beer. You can get your chicken plain, or with spicy piri piri sauce, which was billed to us as only a little hot (don’t worry it isn’t too hot at all). They are crazy about piri piri in Portugal, a sauce made from malagueta peppers, citrus, lemon and garlic. The non piri piri chicken baste was also flavorful, with a hearty helping of salt and garlic.
A blackboard informed us that a chicken was usually about 3/4th of a kilo, so over 1.5 pounds, which we figured was more than plenty for the two of us. As you can see, unlike in the US, these chickens appeared to be of a normal size. With a side of rice, our whole meal clocked in at less than €12. Don’t worry about having to cart home an unwieldy bird: the grillmaster had a huge pair of scissors with which he cut the chicken into about 8 pieces expertly and efficiently. This seemed like the perfect size for us, but if you would prefer a sampler, there are a variety of deals where you can get a combination of meats for well less than €10.
There is no place to sit inside the shop, but if the weather is nice, a perfect place in would be in the elegant Príncipe Real garden, which is only a few block away and has an awesome quiosque. We opted to take ours home, where it fed us for 2 meals! Even after a half hour subway ride home: the chicken was delicious, juicy with a crispy skin. It was amazing and certainly one of the best roast chickens we have ever had! We are so happy we found the Franguesqueira, it has become one of our go-to Lisbon places. If you are in the mood for a good, cheap and comforting meal, we can’t think of a better deal in the city.