Discover the Best Portuguese Cuisine in Lisbon
The food scene in Portugal is a delight to every traveler, so much so that Lisbon city has become an increasingly popular destination for foodies traveling from around the globe. Sampling Lisbon city’s traditional food is like sending your taste buds on their dream journey, right through the country’s iconic cuisine itself, with entrees and side dishes representing every region – from the northern tip to the southwest – by strong unique flavors and only the freshest local ingredients. One grand tour of the local tastes of Lisbon, Portugal is sure to place this cosmopolitan capital at the top of every foodie’s travel list.
Here are some of our favorite signature dishes and unique local treats that can be found when you visit Lisbon, along with a few of our top traditional Portuguese picks.
1. Sopa de Caldo Verde (Caldo Verde Soup)
Portugal’s most famous soup, Caldo Verde, is perfect to warm up your stomach any day of the year. It is also the perfect first course to start off a meal during your Lisbon vacation. So, what exactly is Caldo Verde? It is a light soup with shredded Galician kale and spicy flavors from the chorizo, and this Lisbon specialty is usually served accompanied by cornbread and white wine.
2. Bacalhau de Natas (Creamy Codfish Casserole)
Bacalhau de Natas is the perfect comfort food while traveling to Portugal. It’s comprised of salted, shredded cod, layered with sliced potatoes and a thick creamy sauce, then flavored with spices that vary depending on who’s doing the cooking. This delicious Portuguese dish is then cooked in the oven in a large casserole dish, and often topped with a layer of cheese.
3. Bacalhau à Brás
This Portuguese family favorite is a real-time saver for on-the-go parents. Quick and simple to prepare, and easy to find on any local restaurant menu, bacalhau à brás consists of half-cooked french fries and shredded codfish in a bed of sautéed onions and garlic, which is then mixed with an egg and sprinkled with fresh parsley.
4. Bolinhos de Bacalhau (Codfish Dumplings)
Start with leftover codfish, then add mashed potatoes, herbs, and spices. The bolinho (dumpling) is then made before it’s ready to be fried and eaten. Light, beautifully golden, and versatile, this dish can be served as a starter or as a main course accompanied by rice and salad.
5. Açorda de Marisco (Portuguese Bread Soup with Shrimp)
Açorda is a Portuguese dish consisting of bread mashed up with garlic, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar, and poached eggs. Along the coast, shrimp and other seafood can be added to the dish.
6. Bifana (Pork Beef Sandwich)
Bifana is the national signature of Portuguese street food - a pork beef sandwich seasoned with garlic, pepper, and other spices. You could visit Lisbon just to taste this emblematic offering and it would be well worth your while!
7. Chouriço, Morcela, and Alheira (Portuguese Sausages)
Chouriço, morcela, and alheira are 3 different types of Portuguese sausages which are usually eaten grilled or fried. Chouriço is made with pork meat, morcela is a blood sausage, and alheira is made from a mixture of poultry, bread, and spices. It may sound like a strange combination, but it’s very tasty and a must-try while in Portugal.
8. Lapas Grelhadas (Grilled Limpets)
This delicious shellfish can be found both in Madeira and the Azores Islands, and the dish is widely considered a specialty of the whole country. Similar to clams, but slightly chewier, lapas are served on a hot skillet and covered in garlic, butter, lemon, and sometimes pepper. So, if a Portuguese island archipelago is also on your itinerary aside from traveling to Lisbon, sampling lapas are an absolute must!
9. Sardinhas Grelhadas (Grilled Sardines)
The smell of grilled sardines on the streets of Lisbon usually means that it’s time for the Santos Populares celebrations and that summer has just arrived. Traditionally in Portugal, these sardines are grilled, simply seasoned with salt, and served with a slice of cornbread.
10. Chicharros Fritos (Fried Mackerel)
Chicharros is a local favorite in Portugal. The traditional Portuguese way to cook mackerel is to batter-fry them, then eat the whole fishtail, head, bones, and all! Be brave and give it a try during your next trip to Lisbon! When ordering from a local restaurant or at a local home, you will often see the slightly sweet fish served with boiled potatoes or tasty tomato rice.
11. Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato (Clams with Garlic and Coriander Sauce)
A delicious traditional Portuguese clam dish, this delicacy starts with sautéed onions, garlic, and a little bit of cilantro, before clams are added. To finish off this heavenly mix of flavors, white wine is added, and you cook everything together until the clams open up on their own.
12. Francesinhas (The Traditional Porto Sandwich)
Even though Franceinhas is an original delight from Porto, it is also a very common dish served in Lisbon. So, what’s a francesinha? It is a pork sandwich that’s layered with sausages, ham, and cheese and served with a very special sauce. All of this is topped with a fried egg and served over a bed of warm french fries for a mouthwatering masterpiece.
13. Polvo à Lagareiro (Lagareiro-style Octopus)
For octopus lovers out there, you are in for a treat when ordering this item in Portugal. How do Lisbon locals prepare this delicacy? First, the octopus is boiled, and then it is roasted in the oven. Its tentacles are seasoned with lots of garlic and olive oil, and it comes out of the oven super crispy and tender. Polvo à Lagareiro – a famed and beloved octopus dish in Lisbon, Portugal – is served with a side of mashed potatoes and garlic, and topped off with fresh parsley or cilantro.
14. Cataplana de Peixe (Fish Cataplana)
The Cataplana is the name of the pot this yummy dish is cooked in. In this case, made with Peixe (fish). Simply prepared, the cooking process used by the cataplana prevents the loss of the ingredients' aromas, ensuring full and excellent flavor. It is most often served with white rice or boiled potatoes.
15. Travesseiro de Sintra (Sintra Pillows)
A delicious dessert-type sweet made from puff pastry and filled with an egg and almond cream before being dusted in sugar, travesseiros originated in a now famous pastry house in Sintra named ‘’A Piriquita’’, which opened in 1862 when King D.Carlos I urged the owners of the bakery to produce this delight that he loved to eat while spending his summers in Sintra.
16. Pastéis de Belém
The delicious Pastéis de Belém is widely recognized as the most authentic Portuguese version of the custard tart (pastél de Nata). Once you visit Lisbon and peruse the menus yourself, you will undoubtedly find that Portugal has a sweet tooth, and this is the unofficial national favorite!
Fun fact: the Pastéis de Belém recipe is 300 years old, and was first created by monks living in Lisbon's Jerónimos Monastery.
In fact, the monastery itself is now an official UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a visit. The monks initially started selling these custard tarts out of necessity, in order to fund and support the monastery, which ended up having to close in 1834. Luckily, the recipe didn't get lost, and it was sold to the owners of Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, which opened in 1837 and is now one of the most popular tourist spots in all of the capital city of Lisbon. Conveniently, the shop and the monastery are only 3 minutes apart, so make sure you get a taste of both as you visit Lisbon!
17. Ovos Moles de Aveiro (Aveiro's Soft Eggs)
Traditionally attributed to Portugal's Aveiro area, ovos moles can also be found throughout the capital city of Lisbon, as they are a cherished part of the country's staple pastry collection. The sweet treats are made by adding egg yolk to the sugar syrup and then wrapping that mix into a thin pastry before covering it with sugar syrup or white chocolate.
18. Bolas de Berlim
The Portuguese version of donuts, grabbing some bolas de berlim makes any morning better during your dream vacation. What you can expect is fried dough rolled in sugar, and filled with ovos moles (yes, just as described above!). Bolas de Berlim are usually sold at the beach by a seller who passes by screaming: ‘’Olha a Bola de Berlim!’’.
Lisbon Tastes Are More Accessible Than Ever
After reading this article, you are surely going to sample all of these amazing Lisbon foods for yourself. The great news is that it is now easier than ever to fly to Lisbon and make your gourmet dreams come true, with direct flights to Lisbon airport operating from numerous cities across Europe and beyond. Book here your trip to Portugal!
Are you already in love with Portugal? Take a look at our stress-free packages that allow you to book your ultimate Portuguese adventure. All our packages are carefully curated by our team of local Portuguese experts so that you don't need to worry about any details - just enjoy your trip!