5 Best Petiscos in Lisbon (and Yes, We Explain What Petiscos Are Too!)

Portuguese love to rave about petiscos. From the fresh octopus salad to the delicious clams, we can’t get enough of them! So feast your eyes as we reveal some of the best petiscos in Lisbon.

So what are petiscos anyway? Well for starters, they’re not tapas. Yes, they’re both used to describe a variety of small dishes, but it’s much more than that. For Portuguese, it’s an experience.

There is even a verb, petiscar, which essentially means to savor something special. And that’s what a petisco is — a special treat. You shouldn’t keep it to yourself though, petiscos are made to share.

So gather a group of friends, order some beers and pick your favorite petisco, we’ll join you there!

What are petiscos, anyway? Read this guide to learn about these tasty bites and discover the five best petiscos in Lisbon!

Photo credit: food_square, Text Overlay: Devour Lisbon Food Tours

1. Salada de Polvo

Summer in Portugal always calls for at least one salada de polvo (octopus salad). First-timers might be put off by its appearance, but trust us, this is one of the best seafood dishes you can try in Lisbon!

Octopus, tomato, onion and olive oil are the main ingredients used in this delicious cold salad. Some like to add potatoes to the mix, but it’s not as common.

One thing an octopus salad must have is the herbs. Coriander or parsley, it’s really up to the cook to decide. Most restaurants will give you a bit of bread as well, if they don’t, make sure to order some. You will need it to soak up all that sauce at the end!

Where to try it: Try the traditional version at Cova Funda or go to Sol e Pesca for a taste of octopus in a can.

Octopus salad is one of the best petiscos in Lisbon. Drizzled with olive oil and herbs, it's a great dish to have in the summer!
A little bit of onion and fresh herbs is all you need to make a delicious Salada de Polvo.
Photo credit: monde_delicieux

2. Ameijôas à Bulhão Pato

You’ll find clams in many Portuguese dishes, like Carne de Porco à Alentejana (pork with clams) or the Cataplana (seafood stew). But it’s in the Ameijôas à Bulhão Pato that they shine.

What’s so special about this petisco? Well, it’s all in the sauce. First, they cook the clams with a bit of garlic, olive oil, and white wine. Then they add fresh coriander and drizzle it with lemon juice. That’s pretty much it. So simple, yet so tasty.

The best clams are served straight from the pot!

Where to try it: You can find this dish in most seafood restaurants in the starters section. We recommend the ones at Ramiro or Cervejaria Sem Vergonha.

Looking for the best petiscos in Lisbon? Try Ameijôas à Bulhão Pato, clams with a delicious coriander sauce.
It’s hard to resist the sauce of Ameijôas à Bulhão Pato! Photo credit: gulaqb

3. Peixinhos da Horta

They call them peixinhos (little fish), but there’s nothing fishy about them! It’s probably one of the few vegetarian petiscos in Portugal.

The name peixinhos da horta translates as little fishes from the garden, and it’s basically green beans coated in batter.

There’s no way you can have just one, as they always come in pairs. How else could you share them?

Here’s something you might not know: this dish was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese and gave origin to the tempura.

Where to try it: Tapa Bucho and Café do Paço serve some of the best peixinhos da horta in Lisbon.

One of the best petiscos in Lisbon for vegetarians are the peixinhos da horta, deep fried green beans.
Looking for a veggie-friendly petisco? Try the peixinhos da horta. Photo credit: titareco

4. Pica-pau

Pica-pau is by far one of our favorite Portuguese petiscos. The little chunks of meat marinated in garlic make our mouths water every time we see it on the menu!

Traditionally they use pork, but we love the beef one more. Pickles, mustard, and chili are also common ingredients of the pica-pau.

Each restaurant has their version of the dish, so it’s always exciting to try a different one.

Where to try it: Our favorite pica-pau is from Atalho Real and Sala de Corte. This last one is a bit pricier but definitely worth it for the quality of the meat!

5. Caracóis

If you visit Lisbon in the fall, winter or spring, you won’t find them on the menu. But when the summer reaches the city, so do the signs for caracóis (snails). Suddenly, you’ll get a bunch of invitations to go out and eat snails over a beer or two.

Unlike the French, Portuguese don’t use butter. Instead, they cook the snails with olive oil, onion, garlic and lots of oregano.

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Sometimes the hardest part is getting them out of their shells, that’s why they give you toothpicks!

Where to try it: The best time to eat caracóis is between May and August. We recommend the ones at Júlio dos Caracóis or Pomar de Alvalade.

One of the best petiscos in Lisbon is the caracóis (snails), which go perfectly with a cold beer.
Caracóis are always paired with a cold beer.
Photo credit: mi)
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