What to Eat in Lisbon: 12 Treats You Should Not Miss
The culture of Portugal is as unique and distinctive as that of any other country in Europe. And nowhere is that more apparent than in Portuguese cuisine. This fiercely independent nation has developed of food culture all of its own, based around the incredible produce of the countryside and the bounty of the sea.
It's no surprise that seafood is a huge part of Portuguese cuisine in a coastal seafaring nation like Portugal. You'll find fish and crustaceans in many Portuguese dishes, so if you're a seafood lover, you're sure to love Portuguese food. But there's more to traditional Portuguese dishes than just fish. With great meat dishes, excellent vegetable-based cuisine, and incredible wine, Portuguese food has something to please just about everyone.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Lisbon, and you'll be ready to explore Portuguese food, from the cutting-edge haute cuisine of Lisbon's fanciest restaurants to traditional Portuguese dishes to the best vegetarian restaurants in Lisbon. Whether you get your food from a fancy sit-down place, a casual cevicheria, or Lisbon's best street food vendors, you're sure to enjoy a food tour of this delicious city.
Lisbon Food: Pastel de Nata
A Lisbon food tour just wouldn't be complete without trying a Pastel de Nata. These little Portuguese tarts are famous all over the world, and for good reason. Flaky pastry filled with egg custard and topped with caramelized sugar, Pastéis de Natas are an irresistible treat. You can find them all over Lisbon, but they're said to be best at the Pasteis de Belém bakery, which has been making them since 1837.
Lisbon Food: Bifanas
For something a little heartier, try a bifana. This is a classic Portuguese sandwich made with pork loin that's been marinated in white wine and garlic, then grilled or roasted until it's nice and tender. The pork is served on a fresh crusty roll with mustard. It's a simple dish, but it's absolutely delicious.
The origins of the Bifana are lost to history, but it's clear that these sandwiches have been around long enough to become an essential part of the country's food culture. In fact, bifanas are so popular that you'll even find them on the menu of McDonald's restaurants in Portugal in the form of the McBifana.
But please don't make this your first encounter with this classic Portuguese food. There are far better places to eat in Lisbon than at the Golden Arches, and you'll find the best Portuguese food, including the best bifanas, at small restaurants throughout the city.
Lisbon Food: Caldo Verde
Caldo verde is a Portuguese soup made with potato, kale, and chorizo. It's traditionally a winter dish, but it's so hearty and filling that you'll want to eat it all year round. This is comfort food at its finest, and it's the perfect way to warm up on a chilly day.
The first official reference to this winter soup goes back to the 15th century in northern Portugal, where winters are colder than in the sunny south. However, caldo verde has become popular throughout the country in the centuries since, and you'll find plenty of places to try it in and around Lisbon.
Lisbon Food: Arroz de pato
Arroz de pato is a duck rice dish that's popular in the Alentejo region of Portugal. It's made with duck, bacon, sausage, onion, garlic, and white wine, and it's absolutely packed with flavor. This is a dish that's meant to be shared, so make sure you order it when you're dining with friends. Somewhat similar to the Spanish paella, it's a great meal to eat in Lisbon if you're traveling with a group, and once the delicious aroma of duck fills the restaurant, you may well find yourself making some new friends.
Lisbon Food: Francesinha
If you're looking for an iconic Portuguese dish, look no further than the francesinha. This sandwich originates from Porto, and it's made with bread, ham, sausage, steak, cheese, and a fried egg. It's then covered in a beer sauce and served with french fries. It's an incredibly rich dish, but it's oh so worth it.
Lisbon Food: Feijoada
Feijoada is a pork and beans stew. It's a hearty dish that's perfect for a cold winter day. While it's typically served with white rice, you can also find it served with potatoes or bread. No matter how you have it, feijoada is sure to satisfy your hunger.
Taken by Portuguese colonizers to Brazil, the dish has become extraordinarily popular in the South American country, to the extent that many people now think of it as a Brazilian dish rather than a Portuguese one. But it remains popular in the Portuguese capital, and you'll find it on the menu of many Lisbon restaurants as a classic example of Portuguese cooking.
Lisbon Food: Alheira Sausage
This is another dish with a fascinating history. Alheira sausage is a smoked pork and chicken sausage that was created by the Jews of Portugal during the Inquisition. Back then, Jews were viewed with suspicion, and eating sausage made with a variety of meats was a way to demonstrate to the Inquisition that the Jews had converted to Christianity and were eating pork - even if they weren't always! Nowadays, Alheira often contains pork, but it can be made with just about any meat.
The horseshoe-shaped sausage is made with flour, bread crumbs, garlic, and spice, and it has a distinct flavor that sets it apart from other sausages. Alheira sausage is typically served with boiled potatoes or roasted peppers and a fried egg.
Lisbon Food: Pastéis de Bacalhau
One of the most internationally famous components of Portuguese cuisine is salted cod, known as bacalhau. This dried and salted fish was once a staple of the Portuguese diet, as it could be stored for long periods of time without going bad. Nowadays, bacalhau is still popular, and you'll find it in a variety of dishes.
Pastéis de bacalhau are small fried pies filled with shredded cod, potato, onion, and garlic. They make for a perfect snack or appetizer, and they're absolutely delicious. If you're a fan of cod, you'll definitely want to try these little pies.
These days, Portugal gets most of its cod from Norway. But that doesn't make this maritime dish any less an authentic part of Portuguese cuisine and a classic Portuguese food to have while you explore the country. After all, bacalhau is considered Portugal's national dish, so you have to sample this delicious food when you eat in Lisbon.
Lisbon Food: Arroz de Tomate
Not all traditional Portuguese dishes are based around meat and fish. Arroz de tomate is tomato rice, and it's a popular vegetarian dish. It's made with onion, garlic, rice, tomatoes, and a variety of spices, and it has a wonderfully comforting flavor.
This dish is often served as a side, but it can also be enjoyed on its own. If you're looking for a hearty vegetarian meal, this is definitely the dish for you.
Lisbon Food: Bacalhau à Brás
Another dish featuring bacalhau, this time it's in the form of small shredded pieces mixed with egg, potato, and onion. It's then fried and served with french fries. This hearty dish is perfect for a filling meal, and it's sure to satisfy your hunger.
The story goes that this dish was invented by a man named Braz, whose surname has undergone a change in spelling to come up with the modern bras. The dish was invented right in Lisbon's Bairro Alto or Old Town, making this a truly authentic Lisbon meal. It's also possibly the best food to have in a bar in the Bairro Alto today, especially washed down with a cold beer.
Braz himself may have been a 19th century Spanish immigrant, according to legend. One day, instead of throwing away the less desirable parts of the fish, he came up with the idea to shred it all together with vegetables, and a classic piece of Portuguese cuisine was born.
Lisbon Food: Cozido à Portuguesa
This is a Portuguese pork and bean stew made with a variety of meats, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and other vegetables. It's a filling dish that's perfect for a winter meal, and it's packed full of flavor. The different meats give the stew a unique flavor, and the vegetables make it hearty and satisfying.
Like many traditional Portuguese dishes, this one is designed to find a use for less desirable cuts of meat and vegetables. It has its origins in Beira, just to the north of the city, but you can find dishes similar to this in any rural part of the country. After all, a hearty stew like this is some of the best food to eat when your job involves manual labor, and an excellent way to stretch cheap ingredients into a delicious meal.
Nowadays, this Portuguese stew can be made with far more high-quality ingredients, making it even more delicious than it traditionally was. If you're a fan of tasty food and are wondering what to eat in Lisbon that's truly authentic, this is your answer.
Lisbon Food: Canned sardines
Canned sardines aren't everybody's cup of tea. These oily fish are often loathed as much as they are loved. But Portugal's long history as a maritime nation and its focus on seafood has made oily fish like sardines a quintessential part of Portuguese cuisine.
Don't let the fact that sardines are in tin cans fool you. Canned sardines in Portugal can be of incredibly high quality, and they're often grilled or used in stews. If you want to try something truly authentic, then seeking out some canned sardines is a must.
If you're not sure how to eat them, just pop open the can and enjoy them as they are. You can also add them to salads or sandwiches for a delicious and healthy meal. This is what to eat in Lisbon if you want to understand the nation's passion for oily fish.
Because of their extremely long shelf life, canned sardines also make an excellent souvenir of Lisbon. If you want to take a taste of Portugal home with you, then stock up on some cans of sardines before you leave.
Lisbon is home to some of the best restaurants in the entire country, if not the world. And you'll find many a Portuguese dish on the menu of Lisbon restaurants, from the tiniest hole-in-the-wall family eatery to the most high-end culinary palace in the city.
If you're wondering what to eat in Lisbon, hopefully, this Lisbon food guide has given you some good ideas. The truth is, Portuguese cuisine, with its emphasis on fresh and local ingredients, is one of the country's great sources of pride, and you should definitely try at least some of these options while you're in the city.
In a country with so many great foods to try, from caldo verde to pastel de nata to bacalhau à brás, you may be tempted to spend your whole time stuffing your face. But luckily, there's more to Lisbon than just its food. And once you've sampled the best of the local restaurants and their traditional dishes, it might be a good idea to burn off some calories by trying out some of the best hikes in Lisbon.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Lisbon and get ready to enjoy everything the city has to offer. One thing is for certain; you won't struggle to find tasty things to eat here.