What to eat in Lisbon, Portugal: 8 best things – and where to get them
Some people consider that Portugal is the best-kept culinary secret in all of Europe. On certain days, when we look back with great longing at the freshest ingredients we tasted in every bite at Lisbon Restaurants, we tend to agree.
In fact, Lisbon isn’t, first and foremost, just famous for its culinary/eating and Restaurants. It’s a beautiful place, and it’s the main reason why so many tourists show up every summer, even for just one day in Lisbon. There is beauty everywhere you look, from the architecture that harks back to the time of the Moors, to the hand-painted blue tiles from the 15th century, to the beautiful plazas with marble floors, to the cobblestone streets under your feet.
What to Eat in Lisbon! – Photo by Cedric Lizotte
And don’t forget, Lisbon is the city of the seven hills. And so, when you go in search of good Lisbon restaurants—trust me, it’s well worth it—wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking up and down. A lot.
There are stairs built as shortcuts to help pedestrians go from one street to another. And when you go down, you go all the way down to the ocean, which is pretty amazing in itself.
Lisbon is also spectacular at night, as there is an orangy, sandybrown glow from the streetlights that bathes the city in a lovely tint.
Finally, Portugal was once a colonial empire, and one of the longest lasting. It’s no surprise that the influences of its former colonies, Goa, Macau, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, to name a few, can be seen and felt everywhere, even in its food.
Enough talking. Let’s eat delicious food at Lisbon restaurants.
What to Eat in Lisbon- Lisbon Travel Blog: Bacalao a Braz – Photo by Avicentegil under CC BY-SA 4.0
The best Lisbon Restaurants in Portugal
For a country with an unbelievable amount of fresh seafood, it seems odd that one of their national dishes, bacalhau, is dried salted codfish.
There are a hundred ways to prepare this meaty fish, and one of the most traditional ways to prepare it is Bacalhau à Braz, scrambled eggs with olives and fried potatoes.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try the Bacalhau Ze do Pipo, baked under a blanket of warm mayonnaise (sounds odd, we know, but it’s good, we promise). These dishes and many more are available at A Casa do Bacalhau. The restaurant is a bit touristy, but it’s still pretty awesome!
What to Eat in Lisbon: Cozido a Portuguesa – Photo by Adriao under CC by 3.0
2. Cozido a portuguesa
This is not a dish to be eaten alone, and that’s the reason why it’s served family-style. It’s a pot of tender beef and pork chunks, sometimes there’s even chicken, and then what feels like a truckload of vegetables—carrots, potatoes, cabbage, turnips. On top of all that, there are different kinds of sausage, including blood pudding and chouriço!
Brazil, once a part of the Portuguese empire, has a dish called feijoada that is very similar to cozido — chunks of meat, sausage and vegetables – but the main difference with feijoada is that beans are part of the main ingredient.
What to Eat in Lisbon- Lisbon Travel Blog: Sardines on the Barbecue – Photo by Paul Joseph under CC BY 2.0
3. Sardines- must haves of Restaurants in Lisbon
If you are eating at a Lisbon restaurant during summer, you simply have to sample the fresh sardines.
In June, at the Festo de Santo Antonio, the whole city throws a party and fresh sardines are served everywhere. They are at their most delicious and juiciest at this time of the year. And they’re grilled right along Lisbon’s streets, and served with copious amounts of wine, roasted bell peppers, and boiled potatoes. Once you smell sardines being grilled during the Festo, you’ll always associate it with the city—guaranteed.
What to Eat in Lisbon: Bifana – Photo by Alberto González under CC BY-SA 3.0
Oh bifana! This is our personal favorite, and it could not be simpler, but its taste is sublime. Bifana is one of the most popular snacks at restaurants in Lisbon, and can be found in almost any food stall or food truck in the streets of Lisbon.
Bifana is simply thin slices of pork marinated in white wine and a lot of garlic, then fried, and slapped into a bun. Instant happiness. Some people add mustard or hot sauce, but for us, it’s unnecessary, as the taste of the meat and the juices in the bread is all we need.
Pro tip: Have it with a cold beer.
Bifana is also extremely popular halfway around the world, in Macau, China, another former Portuguese colony.
What to Eat in Lisbon- Lisbon Travel Blog: Arroz de Mariscos
5. Arroz de marisco
Portugal is a place built on seafood… and rice! In fact, a single Portuguese person eats about 15 kilos of rice per year, compared to less than 5 kilos per person for the rest of Europe.
Arroz de marisco is an abundance of prawns, clams and other seafood, all cooked beautifully with rice and vegetables and some herbs. It’s quite similar to a Spanish paella. The seafood is always amazingly fresh.
Note: Do you only have a short time in Lisbon? Check out MSCGerber’s guide for Lisbon in 3 Days!
Note that Farol appears in the list of Lisbon Restaurants but it isn’t in Lisbon, but rather across the river from it, and you have to take a ferry to get there. It’s a spectacular spot to find yourself, with the locals, and enjoy the skyline of Lisbon.
What to Eat in Lisbon- Lisbon Travel Blog: Chicken Piri Piri – Photo by Mike McCune under CC BY 2.0
6. Chicken piri piri- best of Lisbon restaurants
Piri pier is the best of what restaurants at Lisbon has served to date. Well, we know that one good thing that came out of Portuguese’s colonial past is the food! In fact, the extra-famous piri piri pepper comes from Portugal’s former colonies in Africa, namely Mozambique and Angola. Cantinho do Aziz is a restaurant that specializes in dishes from that region. And chicken piri piri is probably the most famous of them all. The place itself is unique—ten tables under umbrellas in the Moorish part of Lisbon—and the prices can’t be beat!
What to Eat in Lisbon- Lisbon Travel Blog: Whole crab with its sauce – Photo by Lourdes Cardenal under CC BY-SA 3.0
7. Whole crab – brains and all!
The whole crab at this place is famously delicious. They mix the crab innards and fat together with a sauce made of butter, garlic, onions, white wine, peppers and chili sauce and serve it all in the shell. Best way to eat crab! Completely delicious and nothing is wasted. You’ll end up ordering more bread to dip into the sauce. It’s that good!. They also serve very fresh prawns, shrimp, lobster and clams.
What to Eat in Lisbon- Lisbon Travel Blog: Pasteis de Nata – Photo by Jpatokal under CC BY-SA 3.0
8. Pasteis de Nata
They’re the most famous food served by Lisbon Resturants ! And the recipe is under lock and key: Apparently, only three people in the world know it! Pasteis de Nata is golden puff pastry circle with a barely firm rich egg custard in the middle. It’s sold at Pasteis de Belem. The Clarinha family, heirs to the original bakers, have a copyright on the recipe, which is centuries old.
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