If you are on a diet, oh dear… You are going to have a difficult time visiting Portugal.
One of the strongest reasons to love this country is our gastronomy and, believe us, we know a lot about eating. You can find amazing gourmet restaurants and New Age food but if you want a good advice, you must try our traditional dishes.
The Spanish have tapas, we have “petiscos”: an amazing diversity of entries, snacks, and small dishes that will make your mouth cry for more.
Portuguese gastronomy it’s included in the Mediterranean diet – Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO – but has also Atlantic roots. Fish, seafood, bread, olive oil, and meat are everywhere combined with tasty vegetables cooked in thousand different ways.
To help you in the middle of SO much offer, we organized a “must-try” of list of seven irresistible “petiscos”. Have a look at what we believe is the best Lisbon Food:
1. Pastel de Nata
In 2011, “Pastel de Belém” (the original custard tart) was elected one of the 7 Wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy.
This pastry is most commonly known as “Pastel de Nata” and you will find it in supermarkets and at almost every Portuguese café. Local tip: best recipes are the ones from Aloma and Manteigaria pastry shops.
The custard with the original recipe, “Pastel de Belém“, can be found at Rua de Belém nº 84.
As almost every ancient recipe from Portuguese monasteries and convents, Pastel de Nata is made mostly of eggs and sugar what makes it taste like heaven!
The Portuguese custard tart is so famous that it’s probably at the top of “must-try” lists for anyone visiting Portugal.
And if you are wondering if it is something the Portuguese really eat, YES, it’s proudly part of our diet 🙂
2. Pastel de Bacalhau
You know, codfish is our biggest crush.
We know one thousand ways of cooking this awesome Atlantic fellow and, we have to admit, “Pastel de Bacalhau” or “Bolinho de Bacalhau” is one of our favorite. You can find it everywhere, from restaurants to cafes or at any grandma house!
It’s made of potatoes, parsley, eggs and, of course, codfish. To get the shape, cooks usually use spoons – really interesting to see.
Here’s a curiosity: Portugal doesn’t fish codfish because we don’t have it in our seas. Our main supplier is Norway. Recipes are 100% Portuguese though!
The delicious “Pastel de Bacalhau” can be eaten as a snack or as a meal – it’s most commonly cooked with tomato rice.
Secret tip: if you are planing on visiting Baixa-Chiado, find the restaurant “Caneca de Prata” and ask for a red green wine with a “Pastel de Bacalhau“.
You can thank us by posting a photo on Instagram, tagging us (#foodiebookings)!
3. Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato
Oh, my! If you are a seafood fan you will fall in love with Portugal.
“Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato” has its origin from the western center of our country and the oldest told us that the name honors a poet.
It’s perfect to eat as an appetizer once it’s made of the extraordinary mix of clams, garlic, olive oil and white wine.
Local tip: Portuguese seafood is delicious when combined with green wine such as “Alvarinho” or “Loureiro”.
If you like seafood and shellfish, we recommend that you join Ana on a day trip from Lisbon to Sesimbra, a fishing village at only 40 minutes from Lisbon.
Ana will teach you the history of Portuguese fishing, there’s a visit to the local market and to the museum. The best part is the lunch: you get to taste 9 different seafood and shellfish dishes.
4. Pica Pau
Meat lovers be like: “At last!”
Well, dear meat lovers, the Portuguese taverns have a special care for “Pica Pau“.
This beef dish is made of meat fried in small pieces with pickles. The sauce is so delicious that the Portuguese love to dip bread in it.
The traditional recipe has pork but it can also be made with beef.
Carmo restaurant in Chiado has the finest gourmet “Pica Pau“.
Now the real local tip: if you want to taste a (very!) traditional “Pica Pau” dish, you should go where the locals go.
So we recommend that you put on your best shoes and walk all the way up to Padaria do Povo – a super secret place in Campo de Ourique.
Order this dish with a jar of red wine, bread and some french fries. You know how to welcome us 😉
5. Prego em Bolo do Caco
This is one of our favorite sandwiches.
It comes straight from Madeira Island. “Bolo do Caco” is a typical wheat bread that when combined with vegetables, cheese, eggs and beef we call it “Prego em Bolo de Caco”.
Visiting Funchal to taste the original one is always a GREAT idea. But since you are visiting Lisbon for now, we recommend the restaurant “O Madeirense” in Amoreiras.
We also recommend that you go to “BDO Bifanas Bar” (Cais do Sodré) to taste our delicious “Bifana” – pork sandwich. At this snack bar, they also have “Prego em Bolo do Caco“.
6. Azeitonas Curtidas
“Curtidas” is a term for one traditional treatment of olives in order to become edible. In order to be able to eat the olives, we have to tan it so they can lose their characteristic bitter taste. It evolves simple ingredients such as water and salt and Portuguese people love it.
Oh, lupines…You are going to find them literally everywhere.
Portuguese can’t resist eating some well-cooked “tremoços” (lupins) while drinking beer, and that is for sure a native experience.
Before they are sold to the public, lupin beans need to be cooked and salted for days, so expect it to have a slightly strong flavor.
Probably the first question when you lupin beans for the first time is: “how do I eat this?”.
The instinct is to eat it with the peel, and that’s ok! But Portuguese usually take a small bite first to peel it off with their fingers, pressing the outside as the bean goes into your mouth.
There’s no secret place to get “tremoços“, but if you are looking to be amazed with some architecture, art and culture while enjoying a drink.. “Casa do Alentejo” (in Rossio), gives them from free if you buy a beer.
8. Chouriço Assado
If you like pork meat, Portugal will be your second home.
This roasted sausage is usually grilled in front of people and it’s a delight for photography lovers.
A delicacy that can be easily found at any restaurant, but few do the fire trick.
Take note on where to go: Tasca do Chico (in Bairro Alto) and Tasca do Jaime D’Alfama (in Alfama) are two of the best spots.
Looking to meet locals and to learn more about Lisbon and Portuguese culture?
This is our special recommendation, Filomena & Duarte are two local guides who have 4 fantastic foodie experiences in the city. They are very requested by international Chefs as well as bloggers.
Their knowledge on Portuguese food and history goes beyond the typical local guide, that’s why each experience lasts around 6h to 7h. “UAU” right?
We have selected a very special tour to display on this article: the Gourmet Lisbon Food Tour, one of the top sellers:
Here’s what to expect:
– 6h Gourmet Food Tour with a Visit to the Local Market
– 10 Tastings of the most exquisite Portuguese delicacies (pastry, cheeses and ham, meat and seafood dishes)
2 Wine Tastings (soft Drinks are also included: water, juice and coffee)
Sounds fantastic right? Book your seat!
About the author
Hungry travelers always ready to find and taste new cuisines. We love to explore a place through its gastronomic culture and to share it with other foodie travelers.