By Amy Creighton
The capital of Portugal, Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in western Europe and lies on seven hills. It is known for its beauty, history, food, its nightlife and its good weather. It is a great city to explore the wide range of Portuguese food as it is authentic, unique and interesting.
Lisbon locals are passionate about their food and they all take great pride in finding the best ingredients to create the most unique food. As Lisbon is right beside the ocean, they can source plenty of seafood and can be sold for cheap.
6 Local Dishes To Try In Lisbon
1. Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup)
Photo credit: Brazilian Kitchen Abroad
Caldo Verde is a Portuguese soup made with potatoes, collard greens, sliced chourico or linguica which is a smoked Portuguese sausage and olive oil. The dish came from northern Portugal but is now loved on a national level. The soup is best served as an appetizer and is a true Portuguese dish.
2. Bacalhau (Cod – but Portuguese style)
Photo credit: Delicias UK
Bacalhau is a very popular dish in Lisbon and a matter of fact is codfish. Bacalhau is caught in Norway, Iceland and Newfoundland in Canada as the water is much colder. This type of dish has been popular amongst the Portuguese since the 15th to 18th centuries.
Bacalhau is one of the most treasured dishes in Lisbon, it can be eaten baked, canned, barbecued, with rice or potatoes. While on the trip we were lucky enough to have had the chance to try Bacalhau while on a food tour. Personally, I thought the Bacalhau was very appetising and I would definitely recommend trying some while in Lisbon.
Did you know that while we in Ireland and the UK eat turkey for Christmas dinner, the Portuguese eat cod and vegetables?
Well, you might as why sardines are a massive deal in Portugal? Well, when Saint Anthony, Lisbon’s patron saint was on one of his expeditions, he struggled to try to convert the people, so he turned to the fish. Every year Lisbon throw a party in Anthony’s honour which lasts a whole month and sardines are the superstar of the festivals.
Sardines is one of the most popular Portuguese dishes and can be grilled on the charcoal or bought tinned in tomato sauce, in vinaigrette, in virgin olive oil, with lemon and thyme or with or without bones and skin.
So where to eat the best-grilled sardines in Lisbon? In June, there does be plenty of food stalls all around Lisbon town where one can order cheap tasty sardines, along with local street food. If the festival month is over and you want to try good grilled sardines Farol de Santa Luzia in Alfama or Ultimo Porto serve grilled sardines all year round. Additionally, if you want tinned sardines Lisbon has a wide range of shops that sell it, we even came around a sardine shop in Lisbon airport.
Bifanas are a combination of sliced pork that has been grilled and cooked in paprika flavoured stock, served along in a bap with sweet mustard and chilli.
So where are the best places in Lisbon to try Bifanas?
Firstly, there is Casa das Bifanas which is located at one of Lisbon’s well-known squares, Parca da Figueria where you can enjoy a delicious bifana in a nice casual area. Another one is Café Beira Gare who is competing with Casa das Bifanas for the best bifanas in Lisbon. This restaurant is located across from Rossio station and a three-minute walk from Casa das Bifanas. The bifanas are sold at a very reasonable price of €2.90.
5. Francesinha Sandwich
(Authentic Food Quest, 2020)
A Francesinha sandwich consists of bread, ham, sausages and steak with melted cheese and an egg on top. Each restaurant can make their Francesinha sandwich unique by using different sauces.
Restaurant Lucimar is highly recommended for its delicious Francesinha sandwich and is located at Rua Francisco Tomas da Costa 28, Lisbon. The prices are cheap, and the atmosphere is very chill and cosy.
6. Pastel de Nata
(Authentic Food Quest, 2020)
Pasteis de natas originated in a Belem pastry shop in 1837. The pastries were made by monks during a revolution in 1820 to make money. The pastries became popular amongst tourists when a small store attached to a sugar refinery started to sell them.
Antiga Confeitaria de Belém lies in one of Lisbon’s most touristy areas where both international and Portuguese tourists line up to for hours to buy boxes of these delicious egg tarts. I was lucky enough to have tried a pastel de natas while in Lisbon and I can tell you now they taste amazing!!
The top 10 places to eat in Lisbon
1. Time Out Mercado da Ribeira, Cais do Sodre
The Time Out market is located at Avenida 24 de Julho. The food court opened back in 2014 and to this day Lisbon’s biggest fresh food market. The food market has 35 kiosks selling appetisers, main courses, desserts and beverages. Five top chefs have their restaurants in Time Out offering to die for dishes.
The style of the market is very convenient as there are loads of high wooden benches located in the middle of the kiosks so people can enjoy their food at the market. While I was there, I went for a prawn Pad Thai along with freshly squeezed orange juice. The food at the market was out of this world. The food wasn’t too bad price wise either as mine in total cost me €12.
2. Cervejaria Ramiro, Intendente
Ramiro is nicknamed the seafood temple and is loved by both locals and tourists. The restaurant sells a wide range of seafood from tiger prawns, shrimp, shellfish, crab and lobster. Today, Ramiro is known nationally for its great food and level and service. The restaurant is a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence winner from 2016 – 2019.
Photo credit: Willy For Food
Did you know that Anthony Bourdain ate here years ago on his TV show?
3. Decadente, Bairro Alto
Decadente is in Rua Sao Pedro de Alcantara 81 and is a restaurant that sells lunch and dinner. It is known for its great atmosphere and cool space. The restaurant has a modern Portuguese menu which includes seafood, pork belly and cod. The price range is between €10 – €30 and is recommended for its great food, service and atmosphere.
4. Cantinho do Avillez, Chiado
One of the most famous chefs Jose Avillez is the owner of the restaurant. Jose is best known for his Michelin starred Belcanto. Cantinho do Avillez is a small simple looking room. Cantinho is located Rua dos Duques de Bragança 7.
The menu ranges from starters €7.50 – €11.25, mains €17.95 – €39.50 and deserts from €6.60.
5. Tágide Wine and Tapas Bar, Chiado
In this famous restaurant which is located at Largo da Academia Nacional de Belas Artes 18 and 20, Chiado there are two lunch options. These are one course for €8.50 or three courses for €12.50 which are both served with a glass of wine or coffee.
6. Atira-te ao Rio, Cacilhas
This restaurant is located across the south bank where you can sit out and enjoy the views from the river’s bank. If you walk along the riverside you will come across Atira-te ao Rio. It is a little restaurant with a few table and chairs on the river’s bank and there are also some tables inside.
The menu ranges from €5 – €16 which is a very reasonable price.
7. SeaMe, Chiado
SeaMe originated in 2010 and is a restaurant that has added a Japanese twist to seafood in Lisbon. The restaurant is in Rua do Loreto 21 Chiado, Lisbon and is recognised for its food, service and value. SeaMe provides lunch and dinner with the prices ranging from €30 – €40. The place itself has wooden tables, waiters in Mao-Style jackets and the waitresses in t-shirts that say, ‘I’m a fish addict’.
8. Estaminé art food drink
Estamine is a small café located in Calçada do Monte, 86 A. The café itself only has two tables inside with four seats at each. Two reservations are accepted at lunchtime and two at dinner time. The café also sells ceramic’s work, watercolour pictures and pictures made by the owners. The café offers coffee, drinks and nibbles.
Alma is a fine dining restaurant located in Rua Anchieta, 15, Lisbon and have two Michelin stars. The restaurant aims to be innovative and provide excellent cuisine. The menu is quite expensive which you’d hope you are getting top quality service and food. The starters range from €25 – €30, the mains €36 – €40 and the deserts €11 – €13.
10. Jardim dos Sentidos
Jardim dos Sentidos is a vegetarian restaurant delivered in a modern style restaurant. It has a lunch buffet, A La Carte menu, group menu and private dinners. The lunch buffet in €9.40 per person, the group menu is €18.50 per person for 10 people and includes a starter, drinks, main course and dessert.
Did I think Lisbon is a sustainable city?
When it comes to a city being sustainable Lisbon has achieved this as they are the European Green Capital Award winner for 2020. The title was awarded by the EU Commissioner for Environment, Marine Affairs and Fisheries at an awards ceremony in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
In Lisbon, there is a wide range of organic, sustainable and eco-friendly restaurants. Sustainable food initiatives have been developed in Lisbon and they work towards implementing a variety of measures which are governed and influenced by a central food policy.
An example of a sustainable restaurant in Lisbon is Juicy Lisboa which is a healthy, plant-based restaurant located in the heart of Lisbon. The restaurant works to reduce its carbon footprint by having zero leftovers. The kitchens scraps go to good use and create a sustainable compost while any spoilt leftovers are given to organisations that help feed people in need. The restaurant also sources fresh, organic and local ingredients.
This article is one of a series about Lisbon. To discover more and get excellent information about this city, head over to the Lisbon Portugal Travel Guide.
As the topic of sustainability is so important, you may be interested to learn more about Why Lisbon Is A Top Sustainable Destination by Eduardo Lera Latorre