Sun-soaked Lisbon is one of Europe’s hottest destinations – in more ways than one. After being hit hard by the recession, the city is going through a foodie renaissance, with new restaurants and bars springing up every week. Avoid the tourist traps and get a real taste of Portugal with this food guide to what (and where) to eat in Lisbon.
A Guest Post by Jemma and James from the Portugalist.
Lisbon Food Guide
Where to Eat in Lisbon near Top Attractions
This 16th-century tower is in the beautiful suburb of Belém, home to other top sights such as Jeronimos Monastery and the Maritime Museum.
Breakfast: Join the queue at Pasteis de Belém to try some of the very best Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts) in the city.
Lunch or Dinner: Pao Pao Queijo Queijo is a local favorite known for its delicious baguettes, kebab, and salads. The garlic dipping sauce is to die for.
After-dinner drinks: Bar 38º41 in the Altis Belem Hotel is has a terrace looking out onto the Tagus River, perfect for sundowners, and hosts jazz nights and sunset sessions. Try the refreshing Porto Rozés Tonico – rosé port with tonic (€8).
Sao Jorge Castle
Lisbon’s 11th Century Moorish castle towers over the Alfama neighborhood and Tagus River.
Breakfast: Pop into Café 28, a tribute to Lisbon’s rickety yellow trams. The walls are decorated with photographs and relics showing the route’s history.
Lunch or Dinner: Delicious Mozambican food for a wallet-friendly price is the order of the day at Cantinho do Aziz. We recommend the Frango a Zambeziana (€8) – half a chicken marinated in coconut, served with coconut rice and chips.
After dinner drinks: The Winebar do Castelo is an intimate spot where friendly sommeliers will introduce you to some of Portugal’s famous wines and vintage ports.
Europe’s largest aquarium is located in the modern Parque das Nações area of Lisbon. Most restaurants here are chains, but there are some gems too.
Breakfast: Saboreia Chá e Café is open from 8:30 am, serving Portuguese cakes and toasts. If you’re visiting on a Sunday, head to Ohana by Naz for their brunch buffet (11:30 am – 3 pm, €12)
Lunch or Dinner: Visit Restaurante D’Bacalhau to try Portugal’s beloved salt cod cooked in a variety of ways, or Miss Saigon for globally influenced vegan food.
After dinner drinks: zip up to the 16th floor of the Tivoli hotel to Sky Bar Oriente. The elegant cocktail bar boasts fantastic views across the river, to the sound of DJ sets.
The ‘high neighborhood’ of Lisbon is home to the city’s best nightlife (and trendiest eateries).
Breakfast: The Pop Cereal Café on Rua da Norte is a must for cereal lovers. Croissant Gigante do Bairro is another top pick, with lots of sweet and savory filled croissants to choose from.
Lunch or Dinner: Splash out on a seasonal Portuguese tasting menu at 100 Maneiras, or visit The Decadente for a contemporary take on local specialties.
After dinner drinks: Bairro Alto is famous for its drink deals, with large cocktails costing less than €5. These (and the draft beer) are served in plastic cups so you can stand on the street and chat with fellow revelers. My top picks are Mezcal Bar, Bali Bar, and The Old Pharmacy.
This old factory complex on the Alcantara riverfront is now a hipster hotspot packed with trendy boutiques and bars.
Breakfast: Café na Fábrica serves fantastic brunches featuring fresh fruit, yogurt, cake, croissant, pancakes, eggs, ham, and cheese.
Lunch or Dinner: Head to TACHO for petiscos (Portuguese tapas). Try the ovo mexido com farinheira (scrambled eggs with poultry sausage), pica-pau do lombo (pork with garlic and pickles) and the Salada de Polvo (octopus salad).
After dinner drinks: Head to the top floor of the factory to Rio Maravilha. As well as classic cocktails like the good old Mai Tai (€8) and Old Fashioned (€10), they sell craft cocktails such as the Aztec (€9 – mezcal, tangerine, and chili).
Must-Try Foods in Lisbon
Tick the following five foods off your foodie bucket list to really get the Lisbon experience:
- Pastel de nata – AKA Portuguese custard tarts. Dust with cinnamon and icing sugar
- Prego – a steak sandwich, often served after a seafood platter
- Bifana – similar to the prego, but with pork instead. Eat with yellow mustard.
- Bacalhau – Portugal’s national dish, salt cod, is served in more than 365 ways.
- Chicken Piri Piri – spicy chicken grilled over hot coals and served with fries and salad.
Where to try Street Food in Lisbon
Although Portugal doesn’t have a street food scene like Thailand, there are a few snacks you can grab on the go.
During spring you’ll find sweet old ladies selling the ripest, juiciest strawberries (morangos) and rich dark cherries (cerejas) on street corners. In autumn they’re replaced by cute old men wearing farmer’s caps, roasting up chestnuts (castanhas) that you buy in paper bags.
For a quick bite on the go, look for salgados – fried savory snacks sold in most cafeterias. Common ones are chamuças (samosas), Pasteis de bacalhau (fried cod cakes), Rissóis (breadcrumbed pastry filled with minced meat), and bolinhos (balls of potato mixed with meat or veggies).
Late Night Eats in Lisbon
Lisbon really comes to life after dark, and if you’ve been out drinking in the Bairro Alto you might find yourself getting some midnight cravings. Luckily the Time Out Market is open until 2 am, so you can enjoy a post-drink snack.
The BDO Bifanas Bar is also open until 2 am, and serves some interesting twists on the classic bifana. My personal favorite is the Francesa (with caramelized onion and cheese).
Sol e Pesca is a traditional late-night spot in Cais do Sodre, open until 3 am. It specializes in tinned fish – it might sound odd, but it’s a real delicacy in Portugal.
Lisbon Restaurants for Vegan Eats
You might have guessed by now that Lisbon isn’t the best destination for vegetarians – pork and fish feature in most dishes. Luckily more plant-based restaurants are opening up, showcasing Portugal’s excellent produce.
AO 26 Vegan Food Project features experimental dishes including a vegan version of the bifana. I’m a huge fan of Terra‘s delicious buffet lunches, and the locally sourced food at Open Brasserie Mediterrânica too.
Lisbon Restaurants for Casual Dining
Petiscos form the heart of Lisbon’s casual dining scene. Order a few plates and a bottle of wine and nibble your way through them until you’re ready for more.
There are lots of petiscarias in the city, but Petiscaria Ideal is one of the best. Try their house salad with pear, endives, nuts and goat cheese, their stuffed mushrooms and their black pork stew with sweet pepper jam.
Or if you fancy a pizza, head to Amesa in Alcantara. This place is super casual, with everyone sitting at one huge table. Their pizzas are delicious, and each one is named after a different Lisbon neighborhood.
Best Restaurants in Lisbon with a View
Because Lisbon is built on seven hills, it’s possible to walk into a restaurant at ground level only to find yourself sitting high above the city – especially in the Principe Real neighborhood. Rooftop restaurants and bars are also becoming popular.
The new rooftop bar Topo in Martim Moniz is making waves for its trendy atmosphere and fantastic views. They serve a range of tartars, burgers and sharing plates as well as main courses. Vegetarian options include lentil, sweet pepper and aubergine curry (€10).
On a more upscale note, Tagide has beautiful views of the cathedral and castle from its terrace. Definitely, a place to come for romantic occasions.
Lisbon Food Markets
I couldn’t talk about Lisbon’s food scene without mentioning the Time Out Market.
This huge food hall near Cais do Sodre station is lined with stalls run by some of the city’s best-known chefs and restaurants. The Mercado de Campo de Orique is a smaller, less touristic version with traditional fruit and veg stands side by side with gourmet street-food and drink stalls.
Insider Foodie Tip
Look out for ‘menu do dia’ (menu of the day) and ‘Prata do dia’ (dish of the day) around lunchtime. You’ll get the best value for money in little local joints, where they owners have scrawled the menu on a paper table-cloth and sellotaped it to the window.
Have you visited Lisbon and explored its gastronomical offers? What are your favorite Lisbon local delicacies? Let us know in comments.
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