What to Eat in Lisbon: 9 Traditional Bites You Need To Try

Wondering what to eat in Lisbon? From breakfast to dinner, we’re laying it all out there so you can eat like a true local.

No trip to Lisbon is complete without a taste of the local cuisine. Most guides will get you to try the codfish and the pastel de nata, but there are so many other delicacies you can’t miss.

Have you ever heard of Polvo à Lagareiro? What about Caldo Verde? No? Keep reading, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about what to eat in Lisbon!

Not sure what to eat in Lisbon? No problem. Here are 9 great bites to get you started.

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

1. Cod

If there’s one staple of Portuguese cuisine, it’s the bacalhau (codfish). Here in Portugal, we’re very proud of “our” salted cod, but honestly, it’s not even from here. Most of it comes from Norway! Even so, with more than 365 recipes under our belt, I think it’s safe to say we made it our own.

Every region has its bacalhau. The most popular one in Lisbon is the Bacalhau à Bràs, flaked cod with scrambled eggs, potatoes, parsley, and black olives. You can try a refined version at Casa Lisboa.

Meia-desfeita is also typical from Lisbon. The dish combines shredded cod with chickpeas, boiled egg, and parsley. It’s usually served cold, but you can also have it hot. We like the one from Taberna da Rua das Flores.

For a smaller treat, try the pastéis de bacalhau (codfish cakes) or the pataniscas de bacalhau (codfish fritters). They’re quite similar in taste—the only difference is that the pastéis include potatoes in the batter.

You can eat them on their own as a snack or as a main with arroz de feijão (bean rice) or arroz de tomate (tomato rice). Most cafés will have pastéis de bacalhau. For pataniscas, we recommend going to D’Bacalhau.

Chef Luís Gaspar serves some of Lisbon's best seafood, like this Bacalhau à Brás, if you're wondering what to eat in Lisbon.
Bacalhau à Brás goes high-end at Casa Lisboa. Photo credit: Casa Lisboa

2. Grilled Sardines

Some things remind you of summer: music festivals, the beach, barbecues, you name it. For us in Portugal, it’s the smell of grilled sardines.

Sardines are one of the most traditional bites in Lisbon. In June, they’re the highlight of Santos Populares, a festival that celebrates Lisbon’s patron saint.

For a month, families set up grills at their doorstep and locals flock to the streets for a taste of sardines. Some like to eat them with potatoes and salad, while others prefer the simple combination of the fish with bread.

Insider’s Tip: Restaurants advertise sardines all year round, but don’t fall for that trap! The best time to order sardines is between June and October. If you get them out of season, odds are they were frozen.

One of the best foods to eat in Lisbon are freshly grilled sardines
Summer in Lisbon is synonymous with grilled sardines!

3. Ameijòas à Bulhão Pato

In Portugal, any dish with a sauce calls for a bit of bread (to dip it in, of course)! Ameijôas à Bulhão Pato is no exception.

This clam dish gets its name from the Portuguese writer Raimundo António de Bulhão Pato, and it’s one of the best petiscos in Lisbon.

The clams are usually served in a pot and mixed with garlic, olive oil, white wine and lemon juice. This sauce is so good that some restaurants even started adding it to other seafood dishes like codfish or sea bass.

You can find Ameijôas à Bulhão Pato in most seafood restaurants, but our favorites are from Ramiro and Cervejaria Sem Vergonha.

4. Polvo à Lagareiro

First came the Bacalhau à Lagareiro, made with cod, and then the octopus version was born—Polvo à Lagareiro. The main ingredient is different, but there’s one thing these dishes have in common: lots and lots of olive oil.

In Portuguese, lagareiros are the people that work in olive oil production, hence why we say à lagareiro.

To keep it short, we boil the octopus, grill it and then drizzle it with a generous amount of olive oil and garlic.

The dish is usually served with batatas a murro, which translates to “punched potatoes.” Yes, you read that right—we punch the potatoes before you eat them. Sounds odd, but they’re delicious!

You can order Polvo à Lagareiro at Frade dos Mares or inside the Time Out Market at Marlene Vieira’s stall.

Some of the best octopus in Lisbon is made by Marlene Vieira at Mercado da Ribeira, like this Polvo à Lagareiro. If you're wondering what to eat in Lisbon, this is a great choice!
Polvo à Lagareiro is always drizzled with a heavy amount of olive oil! Photo Credit: Manuel Manso for Mercado da Ribeira

5. Cozido à Portuguesa

We’re not going to lie: Cozido à Portuguesa won’t win any awards for the best-looking dish. This traditional stew is heavy on meat, and when we say meat, we mean all of it—pork, chicken and beef.

But that’s not all! It also includes plenty of sausages and a mix of vegetables like boiled potatoes, carrots, cabbage and turnips.

Alongside Cozido à Portuguesa, you can often find Sopa de Cozido, a soup made with pasta and the stew’s broth.

Many restaurants in Lisbon have a day devoted to this dish. We recommend the all-you-can-eat buffet at Rosa da Rua on Wednesdays.

A plate with cozido das Furnas, a traditional Portuguese Food
Cozido à Portuguesa puts all the meats you can think of on one plate! Photo credit: David Stanley

6. Meat Sandwiches: Prego & Bifana

If you don’t fancy a big meal, but still want to eat something traditional, Prego (beef sandwich) and Bifana (pork sandwich) are the way to go.

These two local sandwiches might be simple, but they’re packed with flavor. The best bifana always comes with lots of garlic, and the prego is all about the sauces, like mustard or piri-piri. You can also order prego no prato (on a plate) and get some fries instead.

We love the bifanas of Café Beira Gare and can’t get enough of the pregos at Rui dos Pregos. Whichever you choose, don’t forget to order a cold imperial (small beer) to go with it—that’s how the locals do it!

Pregos are part of the traditional Lisbon street food scene.
On bread or on the plate, the Prego is one of Lisbon’s traditional bites. Photo credit: gilguimaraes_

7. Peixinhos da Horta

Let’s face it, there aren’t many veggie-friendly bites in Portugal—but those that we do have are delicious.

If there’s one thing vegetarians should try in Lisbon, it’s Peixinhos da Horta. The name translates to “little fish from the garden,” but don’t worry! They’re just called that because of their shape.

Peixinhos da Horta are deep-fried green beans, and like any other Portuguese petisco, they’re made to share. If you want to try some, head over to Tapa Bucho or Café do Paço.

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

8. Caldo Verde

At the start of a meal or as a midnight snack, there’s always room for Caldo Verde.

Soups are a regular part of the Portuguese diet, but Caldo Verde is the most popular one of all.

The main ingredients of this soup are kale and pureed potatoes. Sometimes it comes with bits of chorizo on top, but when it doesn’t, it makes for a great vegetarian dish as well.

Forget fast-food chains. If you go for a night out in Lisbon, you’ll probably end up at Merendeira chatting with locals and eating Caldo Verde with pão com chouriço (chorizo bread) afterwards.

If you're wondering what to eat in Lisbon late at night, Caldo Verde is the way to go. This traditional soup is made with kale, potatoes and sometimes chorizo, as pictured here.
Caldo Verde is a popular midnight snack for Lisbon locals. Photo credit: Michael

9. Pastéis de Nata

Start or end the day with a pastel de nata and you’ll make us proud.

There are many delicious pastries throughout Portugal, but in Lisbon, all eyes are on the pastéis de nata—the Portuguese custard tarts. Egg yolks, milk and sugar are all it takes to make this sweet bite.

For some they’re a regular snack to go with espresso, for others they’re a luxurious treat. It doesn’t matter how often you eat them though, it’s where you get them from.

Ask any local, and they’ll tell you their favorite spot for pastéis de nata. Here at Devour Lisbon, we always get them at Manteigaria, but there’s nothing like trying them yourself to find your own favorite spot!

Looking for a sweet treat to eat in Lisbon, try the pastéis de nata, Lisbon's famous custard tarts.
Manteigaria is our favorite spot for pastéis de nata in Lisbon.
Photo credit: tak.wing

Traditional Breakfast

Wondering what a traditional breakfast in Lisbon looks like? It all starts with the coffee. We’ve already covered the endless ways of ordering coffee in Portugal, but the most popular ones for breakfast are the galão (¼ coffee, ¾ milk) and the meia de leite (½ coffee, ½ milk). When it comes to food, we’re not big on sausages and beans. Instead, we turn to pastries (yes, pastéis de nata are acceptable for breakfast) and toasted bread, like the tosta mista (ham & cheese toast).

Lunch & Dinner

Locals spend most of their day at work, which doesn’t leave many options for lunch. We’ll either bring food from home, or take advantage of Lisbon’s cheap eats like prato do dia (lunch deals that usually include soup, a main dish, dessert and coffee). For dinner, the focus is on the petiscos, small dishes that are perfect to share with friends. Some of our favorites include the salada de polvo (octopus salad) and the pica-pau (little meat chunks).

Are you coming to Lisbon?
Don’t waste a single meal—check out our ultimate foodie guide to where to eat in Lisbon!

Local Street Food

Prego and bifana are not the only street food in Lisbon. There’s much more out there! We love a good pão com chouriço straight off the oven and don’t get us started on the salgados (savory treats). Our favorite salgado is the pastel de bacalhau (codfish cake), and you can get one for less than €1 at any Padaria Portuguesa. Unless there’s a food festival in town, you’re not likely to find many food trucks in Lisbon. That’s because most of the street food is served in the local cafés or outdoor kiosks.

There’s a lot more where that came from—check out our Tastes & Traditions of Lisbon Tour for a full morning full of traditional Portuguese bites. The best part: we try them all at authentic spots locals love—no tourist traps here!

1 Comment

  1. Stelios says
    August 22, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Love your articles. keep going!!

    Reply

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