From its sweet puff pastry to its spicy piri-piri sauce, Portuguese food is bursting with flavor! If you’re visiting Lisbon, you’re in luck. Here are the best Portuguese dishes worth trying.
Where to eat in Lisbon
Time Out Market
If you’re looking for the best food and drink Lisbon has to offer, Time Out Market is a must. Head here while visiting Lisbon and sample as much Portuguese cuisine as you can!
Time Out Market is a tourist-friendly hot spot, perfect for tasting the highlights of Lisbon’s best restaurants. In the morning, grab a few snacks and a seat at one of the long, family-style tables to watch the locals passing through for the day’s fresh produce.
What to eat in Lisbon
Pastéis de Nata
Centuries ago, monks in Belém filled flaky, buttery pastries with creamy egg custard. These days, the delicious pasteis de nata is one of the most beloved treats in Portugal. You simply can’t visit Lisbon without getting your hands on one (or several) of these!
The best pastel de nata in Lisbon is found near its source, at a cafe called Pastéis de Belém. If you’re not near Belém, you can pick up some of these traditional Portuguese custard tarts at most bakeries in Lisbon.
Bacalhau, or salted cod, is a staple of Portuguese cuisine. Drying and salting the fish was a way to preserve the cod long before refrigeration. Salted cod became an essential part of the Portuguese diet for both ordinary and upper-class people. Now, you’ll find an endless variety of salt cod recipes to try while visiting Lisbon.
Portuguese dishes with cod include crunchy pastéis de bacalhau, or fried codfish fritters reminiscent of a croquette. Bacalhau à brás is one of the most famous recipes in Portugal. It’s made from shredded cod, stir-fried with scrambled eggs, potatoes, onions, black olives, and parsley. You’ll find variations of both Bacalhau à brás as well as pastéis de Bacalhau on menus all over Lisbon.
Pop into any Lisbon restaurant and you’ll likely find a Sopa do Dia, or “soup of the day.” If you’re wondering what to eat in Lisbon, you can’t go wrong with a hearty bowl of caldo verde.
One of the most traditional Portuguese dishes, caldo verde is a simple, satisfying soup made of kale or collard greens, potatoes, olive oil, and salt. The best caldo verde has a smooth, creamy texture, despite not having a drop of dairy in it! Some cooks also like to add a protein, like chouriço (spicy sausage), giving the soup even more flavor.
Sardines might be an acquired taste, but local sardinhas cannot be missed. The best time to try sardines in Lisbon is during the Feast of St. Anthony Festival in June. Wander the streets and sample them grilled on outdoor barbecues, served atop crusty bread and drizzled with olive oil.
Canned sardines are popular year-round and their colorful, quirky tins make sardinhas a delectable souvenir, too.
Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato
Another traditional staple of Portuguese cuisine is Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato. Fresh clams are coated in a sauce made from olive oil, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper, and sometimes white wine.
Thanks to its position along the Atlantic, fresh seafood is plentiful in Lisbon — and an important part of Portuguese food and culture. Enjoy Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato with good company and a cold drink, preferably at the Port of Lisbon for sunset.
Piri Piri Chicken
This is not your typical “cheeky Nando’s.” The restaurant chain may have made it famous, but piri-piri sauce comes from Portugal. Contrary to popular belief, the Portuguese don’t generally like spicy food. The famous sauce is usually offered on the side, not slathered all over everything!
This simple, spicy sauce combines piri piri chilies, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. You’re more likely to see piri piri used as an overnight marinade that seeps into the chicken, keeping it moist and flavorful. To try the best piri-piri chicken in Lisbon, keep an eye out for signs that say frango (chicken) or head straight to Bonjardim.
One of the most popular Portuguese dishes is alheira, a traditional sausage. What’s interesting about alheira is that it’s made entirely of non-pork products. Its history dates back centuries to the Spanish Inquisition — a time when Portuguese Jews were forced to convert to Christianity. They created alheira sausage by mixing kosher meats like chicken, duck, or veal with bread. They managed to trick the Inquisitors into thinking they were eating pork, while staying true to their beliefs.
Nowadays, anyone can enjoy alheira without fear of persecution. The sausage is often served with french fries or topped with a fried egg. Just ask for Alheira de Mirandela to get the full experience!
Lisbon is a fantastic to try a dishe you’ve never had before
This guide will help you discover what to do in Lisbon, Portugal from top bacalhau to Pastéis de Nata to Alheira and everything in between. Are you ready to plan the perfect trip? Get started by booking your GoCar tour of Lisbon today!