Find out where to eat in Lisbon.

The Ultimate Foodie’s Guide To Lisbon

Our all-inclusive companion to the best eats (and drinks!) in Lisbon. From breakfast to dessert–and all of the custard tarts in between–find out what to eat and where to eat it!

By David Pope

Dish of Pica-Pau with Cockles, in Lisbon.
Photo credit: Optimista
Cod (bacalhau) served in a Lisbon restaurant.
Photo credit: Olivethenoms

What do cinnamon rolls, tempura prawns, and English tea all have in common?

The answer? You probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy them if it weren’t for Portugal. This is a country that has connected the world for centuries, and we have a list of famous explorers as long as your arm to prove it!

Portuguese traders paved the way for some of the world’s favorite flavors, from the spicy hit of chili peppers in an Indian curry to the roasted toastiness of Brazilian coffee. Portugal really is the home of fusion food.

So with all these exotic tastes on offer, maybe you’d be forgiven for overlooking the amazing food that comes from Portugal itself.
Maybe.

But if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Lisbon, there’s no excuse for not exploring the tastes that have made this city one of the major foodie destinations in Europe. In this cosmopolitan capital, you’ll find unbeatable versions of classic Portuguese recipes served alongside unimaginably tasty local specialties. You’ll also discover the best custard tarts in the world!

So, what can’t you leave Lisbon without eating, and more importantly, where should you eat it?
Garlic shrimp, a Lisbon seafood dish.
From fresh seafood to fried veggies and grilled meats, Lisbon has something for every kind of foodie! Photo credit: Bairro do Avillez

5 Must-Eat Dishes in Lisbon

Let’s be honest—there are way more than five things to eat in this foodie’s paradise. But, if you’re looking for the absolutely unmissable classics, these dishes are the ones you can’t leave Lisbon without trying.

1. Bacalhau

Here in Portugal, we have more recipes for salted cod (bacalhau) than there are days in the year! There are at least 400 ways of preparing this incredible fish, and each part of the country has their own signature take on it.

In Lisbon, make sure to try Bacalhau à Bràs—flaked cod served alongside scrambled eggs, potatoes, olives and parsley. Our favorite plate of this is served up at Casa Lisboa.

For a mid-afternoon snack, check out pastéis de bacalhau (codfish cakes). These small fritters make for a great light bite, but can also be part of a full meal with rice and beans or arroz de tomate (tomato rice). Find them at almost any restaurant in town.
Read more: Check out our full guide to eating bacalhau in Lisbon!

2. Sardines

Lisboetas are huge fans of seafood—and why wouldn’t we be! With over 500 miles of coastline, this is the perfect place to indulge in some of the bounty of the sea.

Aside from the bacalhau, there’s no fish more popular among locals than sardines! Best eaten in summer, these local favorites are prepared as simply as possible. You’ll most commonly find them grilled and served on top of a piece of rustic sourdough, alongside a fresh salad.

These tasty fish are served throughout the city, but we’ve put together a list of our favorite places for sardines in Lisbon to help narrow down the list!
Read more: Fan of fishy flavors? Read our hit list for the best seafood spots in Lisbon!

3. Cozido à Portuguesa

There are some foods that look like a beautiful work of art, and then there’s Cozido à Portuguesa (Portuguese stew). Don’t get us wrong, it’s still one of the best-tasting dishes you can try in Lisbon, and the perfect thing to warm you up on cooler days.

This is the classic Sunday lunch for Lisbon locals, and it’s packed full of cozy, homey flavors. Fill a big pot with sausages, different cuts of beef and pork, as well as vegetables like beans, carrots and cabbage, and you have the start of one seriously tasty stew!

We can’t all score weekly invites to eat cozido in a local’s home, so head to Rosa da Rua on Wednesdays for the next best thing.

4. Bifana

Lisbon is a city that knows how to do street food well. All over town, you can taste plenty of different international quick and tasty snacks, but for a local classic you can’t look past the humble bifana.

This simple pork sandwich has achieved almost cult-like status among locals, and is a popular afternoon and late-night snack. To make a bifana, a tenderized pork loin is fried in a secret sauce before being stuffed inside a crusty bread roll.

If your mouth isn’t watering now, you might be a robot.

Everyone has their favorite spot for bifana, but we can’t resist the one from O Trevo (Praça Luís de Camões, 48), of Anthony Bourdain fame.

Read more: Our complete guide to eating street food in Lisbon.
Bifana is a delicious pork sandwich often served with mustard as pictured here.
Street food doesn't get much better than Lisbon's famous bifana sandwich! Photo Credit: prawnonthelawn

5. Chicken Piri-Piri

We’re not talking about Nando’s here.

At the same time as they were bringing tempura to Japan, Portuguese sailors were also bringing chili peppers back home. These birds-eye chilies are used to create the famous Piri Piri sauce that makes char-grilled chickens across the country taste incredible.

Here in Portugal, we don’t have as spicy a palate as Britain or the U.S., so most restaurants will give you the sauce in a bottle on the side. We get ours from Bomjardin (Travessa de Santo Antão 12).

Psst! We’ve written an even more detailed list of the top traditional foods of the city, so head there to learn more about what to eat in Lisbon!

Portugal for sugar-holics: The best pastries in Lisbon

Would a trip to Portugal really be complete without eating at least one pastel de nata?

These simple but delectable custard tarts are a good enough reason by themselves to plan a trip to Lisbon, and they make the perfect breakfast or sweet treat. Lisboetas are well-known lovers of all things pastry, and you’ll see pastéis de nata flying off café shelves all day, every day!

Not only that, but Lisbon is also home to the original custard tart recipe, dating back to 1837! In the neighborhood of Belém, people line up for hours to buy fresh pastéis from the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém.

Thousands of tarts are baked here every day, but only six people alive today know the secret recipe!

Want to avoid the lines? Don’t worry, there are plenty of good pastelarias throughout Lisbon where you can have a coffee and enjoy your pastel in peace. The best of these has to be Manteigaria, with a few locations around town.

Read more: Want to learn more about all things custard? We’ve dived deep, and put together our crash course in the best pastéis de nata in Lisbon!
Pastéis de nata, Portuguese custard tarts, in Lisbon.
Photo credit: pixabay.com

Breakfast

When in Lisbon, you should do as the locals do—and that means starting with a delicious breakfast! The classic breakfast choices here are a mug of hot, milky coffee alongside a small, sweet pastry (we told you, locals love our sweet treats!).

So if you’re looking for an excuse to eat cake for breakfast, a trip to Lisbon might be in your future! We’re big fans of the classic pastel de nata and a pingado coffee at Pastelaria Batalha.
Read more: Confused about ordering coffee in Lisbon? We’ve got you covered with our guide to coffee in Lisbon!

And if you’re lacking a sweet tooth, don’t worry! There are plenty of savory baked goodies on offer at breakfast spots throughout the city, too. We’ve put together a list of all the best breakfasts in Lisbon, so be sure to check it out for a tasty start to the day.

Locals will generally grab our quick breakfast before starting work, so most of the favorite spots in town will be full of people between 8 and 9 a.m. Aim to arrive a bit afterwards to avoid the crowds, or turn up mid-rush for the local experience of standing at the bar and chatting!

Brunch

Brunch might not be the most traditional meal of the day in Lisbon, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be short on options. It’s a city exploding with trendy foodie culture, and brunch is no exception!

Whatever your brunch of choice, Lisbon has it covered. Missing your full English? Head to Heim Cafe (they also do some of the fluffiest pancakes in town). Looking for a lighter touch? The Mill, an Australian-run spot near Bairro Alto, has all of the avocado toast and chia pudding you could ever need.

Read more: For everything else, check out our full guide to the best brunch spots in Lisbon!

best breakfast Lisbon french toast
Whether you're looking for modern or old-school breakfasts, Lisbon has you covered! Photo credit: pixabay.com

What to drink in Lisbon: A foodie’s guide

Whatever your tipple of choice, Lisbon has you covered.

The city’s trendy bar scene is exploding at the moment, which means that your list of things to drinks is growing as well! The best bars in Lisbon come well-stocked with a mesmerizing number of classic and modern options, so we’ll lay out the basics here.

Portuguese Wine in Lisbon

Portuguese wine is finally enjoying some well-deserved attention, as this previously unknown wine region steps into the limelight. Look out for local reds and whites at bars and restaurants around town (pro tip: most house wines are pretty good, but do some digging through the wine list and you’re sure to find some gems!).

While in Lisbon, try local wines from the Lisboa region. This area to the northwest of the city has nine sub-appellations, so you’ll find plenty of variety here!

There are plenty of recognizable international grapes grown here, but if you’re looking to try something really local, keep an eye out for some native Portuguese grapes. For reds, look for Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, and for whites; Arinto and Fernão Pires.

Read more: You can even find some amazing wineries just outside of the city!
Experience one of the best wine tastings in Valencia at Enocata!
With so many amazing wines to choose from, Lisbon is a wine-lover's dream!

Craft Beer in Lisbon

Craft beer fans will also be happy, with Lisbon’s Marvila neighborhood fast becoming the hottest new scene for hop-lovers. The traditional beers of Portugal, Superbock and Sagres, are still well-loved by locals, but you’ll also come across a whole lot of new faces, too. Look out for names like Musa, Dois Corvos, and Lince.
We get our hops on at our favorite craft beer spots in the city: Cerveteca Lisboa and Duque BrewPub.
Read more: We’ve got a list of our favorite craft beer bars in Lisbon, as well as our favorite brands to try!
If you want to try craft beer in Lisbon, check out A.M.O. The beer is available on tap or in a bottle, as pictured here.
Photo credit: theblocklisboa

Ginjinha in Lisbon

Finally, don’t leave without trying ginjinha! This sweet and sour cherry liqueur is a Lisbon favorite and is as iconic around here as custard tarts. Find it served in a shot glass, or even from a glass made out of chocolate. 

The two bars competing for the title of favorite local ginjinha bar are A Ginjinha Espinheira and A Ginjinha Sem Rival.

Read more: Make sure to enjoy one of Lisbon’s amazing views from one of the best rooftop bars in Lisbon!
The best rooftop bars in Lisbon offer sweeping views of the city, which are just as beautiful at night when the skyline lights up.
You know what makes a night out in Lisbon even better? Views like this.

Lisbon: The Mealtime Survival Guide

Like many European cities, Lisbon has plenty of unwritten rules governing how and when people eat. We’ve broken down the main ones for you here!

When to eat in Lisbon

Breakfast in Lisbon is usually eaten before starting work in the morning. Head to a café between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and expect to have to elbow your way to the bar through the throngs of crowds!
Around 11 a.m., many locals will grab a mid-morning snack (or another custard tart!) and a second coffee to help tide them over until lunch. At 1 o’clock, it’s time for the main meal of the day.

Just like Spain and other Mediterranean cultures, the biggest meal of the day in Portugal falls at lunch. You’ll find most restaurants and tascas open from noon until around 3 p.m., with even office workers managing to fit in at least two courses!

Around 5 or 6 p.m., when the stomach is starting to rumble again, it’s time to grab a quick snack (and maybe a third coffee). If you’re not feeling another custard tart, you can go for a savory tart or pie instead!

With all this eating throughout the day, you might just feel like a light dinner, so head out for petiscos any time between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Speaking of…
Find out where to eat in Lisbon.
Lisbon is all about petiscos, but what exactly are they? Photo credit: pinterest.com

What are petiscos?

Spend more than a few hours in Lisbon and you’re sure to find yourself asking one question: just what are petiscos?

They seem to be everywhere, at every bar and restaurant in town, and local Lisboetas seem to love them more than anything else! Simply put, petiscos are small, snack-sized plates of food, designed to be shared by friends as part of a light dinner at a local tavern.

They might sound like the Portuguese version of tapas, but say that around a local and be prepared for a mild death stare! These are as Portuguese as anything else in town, full of popular and seasonal flavors that vary from place to place.

Read more: Get the rest of our top tips for eating like a local in Lisbon!

Different restaurant names, explained

Stroll down any street in Lisbon and you’re sure to see more than few different types of eateries. Words like tasca, taberna, restaurante… but what’s the difference?

Tascas tend to be the older and more traditional places for lunch around town. They’re usually filled with locals, and serve only simple and seasonal dishes that generally change by the day. Tabernas were once more wine-focused bars, but are now generally interchangeable with tascas.
Restaurante, on the other hand, might signify a more upscale, modern or fine dining meal. They’re as popular as tascas, but are treated completely differently by locals!
Read more: Don’t miss our list of the most traditional foodie spots in Lisbon!

What’s the vegetarian/vegan scene like in Lisbon?

It turns out, the vegetarian and vegan scene in Lisbon is booming.

For a country that has prided itself on pork and seafood for centuries, this is no mean feat. But look around the city, and you’ll find some incredible veggie-friendly bites that will entice even the most devout carnivores!

When the vegetarian cravings start up, our go-to places are always Tao and Oasis Vegetarian Cafe.

If you’re at a classic tasca or petiscaria, don’t miss the Peixinhos da Horta; deep-fried green beans that inspired Japanese tempura. Caldo verde, too, is found at most bars in town, and packs more flavor than any kale soup deserves to!
Read more: Get our list of the top vegan restaurants in Lisbon, as well as our favourite places for vegetarian food in Lisbon!
Peixinhos da horta, or fried green beans, are a vegetarian petisco not to be missed! Photo credit: titareco

Do you have to tip in Lisbon?

The short answer? No.
The longer answer: you don’t have to, but it’ll always be appreciated, and lots of locals will do it too. While tipping is not at all as common a practice as in the U.S., most patrons of Lisbon’s cafés and restaurants will leave some small change for their service. If the bill comes to 9 euros, leave 10.

The exception to this rule is in Michelin-starred restaurants, where a gratuity of 5-10% is standard.

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