What to eat in Lisbon: 12 must-try local delights

Discover the aromatic world of Portuguese cuisine with this guide to what to eat in Lisbon. The top 12 delicious dishes will have you crying out for more.

You've had a long day of sightseeing, visiting all the famous landmarks in Lisbon. Now what? It's time to indulge in some food that everyone visiting Lisbon must eat. The food in Lisbon is sure to impress you, with incredibly fresh produce and spices from across the Portuguese Empire. It's the perfect way to end a summer day in the city.

What food is Lisbon known for? Portugal may not have the same famous food as Italy or Spain, but there's plenty of food to eat. Some foods to try include custard tarts that even fussy kids will love or richly flavored salt cod that the Portuguese regard as the best food around. Wash down this popular food with a glass of Porto wine for the meal of your dreams.

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1. Indulge your sweet tooth with pastéis de nata

Pastéis de nata are Lisbon's custard tarts, which have become famous around the world. With their delicate, wobbly custard center and crisp pastry, they're the perfect bite. They taste so good that you'll want them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

How to eat the best pastéis de nata in Lisbon?

These tarts originate in Belem, but you'll now find them all over town. They say the best desserts are homemade, so try a 2-Hour Pastel de Nata Cooking Class and learn the secrets of Lisbon's bakers.

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2. Have a taste of the sea with bacalhau

The Age of Exploration really left its mark on Lisbon. Bacalhau (salt cod) was first invented as a method of preserving fresh fish, so sailors could eat well on their long voyages of discovery. Today, it's Portugal's favorite protein, served in stews, cakes, croquettes, potato bakes, and more. They say there are 365 different bacalhau recipes in Portugal. How many will you try during your vacation?

How to eat the best bacalhau in Lisbon?

If a Portuguese family invites you to spend Christmas with them, they're sure to serve bacalhau com natas, a rich, creamy indulgence. If that's not on the cards, don't worry. On this 3-Hour Food Tour by Segway, you'll try bacalhau in its popular cake form.

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3. Party like a local with Portuguese petiscos

Petiscos are like the Portuguese version of tapas, plates that are small in size but big on flavor. On a night out, the locals will go from bar to bar, enjoying a few bites in each before moving on.

How to eat the best Portuguese petiscos in Lisbon?

On a Portuguese Petiscos Tasting Tour by E-bike, you can try a huge variety of these dishes. Feeling adventurous? Opt for snails, chicken giblets, or pig's ear. If those exotic treats aren't up your alley, you can try the crunchy pork sandwiches, Atlantic shrimp, and incredibly moreish deep-fried green beans instead.

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4. Get tipsy on sour cherry liquor

Want something to wash down all those delicious flavors? You've got to try ginjinha. Many locals consider this refreshing drink to be Lisbon's official beverage, and they wouldn't dream of ending a meal without a glass.

How to drink the best ginjinha in Lisbon?

Ginjinha Espinheira has been serving potent shots of the drink since 1840. You'll see it on this Food and Wine Walking Tour, which will also let you try a number of other local specialties.

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5. Turn up the heat with a spicy fish soup

When the Portuguese traveled the world, they returned with their ships full of spices. Portuguese dishes often have more of a kick than other European food, thanks to the influence of colonies like Angola and Mozambique. Spicy fish soup is a great example of a dish that mixes exotic spices with classic European ingredients.

How to eat the best spicy fish soup in Lisbon?

The Mercado da Ribeira, or Time Out Market, is a great place to go for international flavors. Each of its stalls offers a budget-friendly menu, and you'll find a different kind of fish soup every day. If you want the help of an expert, try the Local Market, Food, and Culture Walking Tour, which also includes a few other delicious treats.

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6. Dare to try the local liver and potatoes

Iscas com elas (liver and potatoes) is one of those dishes that sounds so much better without the translation. If you're an adventurous eater, try this rich, indulgent dish of wafer-thin calf's marinated liver with plenty of garlic.

How to eat the best iscas com elas in Lisbon?

You'll have the chance to eat liver at the Rua das Flores Tavern on the Food and Culture 3-Hour Walking Tour. This bar is famous for its traditional Portuguese food, so it doesn't get more authentic than this.

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7. Grab a spicy pork sandwich to go

Bifana is the most popular street food in Lisbon, a crusty bread roll filled with marinated pork cutlets. It's rich in flavor, thanks to the marinade of white wine, garlic, and just a hint of chili. This is the perfect street food, and it also makes a great accompaniment to a cold beer.

How to eat the best bifana in Lisbon?

You'll find bifana all over the city, but this 3-Hour Secret Food Tour will make sure you get to try the very best. You'll also go to a number of local neighborhood bars, well away from the traditional tourist routes.

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8. Learn to appreciate Port wine

Strictly speaking, Port wine originates in the city of Porto, a little way up the coast. You'll still find it served in Lisbon, though. This sweet wine has a high percentage of alcohol, so you'll only ever see it served in very small glasses. Sip it gently to appreciate its complex flavors.

How to drink the best Port wine in Lisbon?

A Port Wine Tasting with Tapas will teach you to taste like a pro. With cheese, chutneys, and fruits to nibble on, you'll try different varieties of Port wine like tawny, ruby, and white.

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9. Try the world's most melt-in-your-mouth pork

Portugal is right next to Spain's biggest ham region, so it's no surprise that a few of those famous Ibérico pigs live on this side of the border, too. Porco preto (black pork) is the most indulgent ham of all, rich in flavor and sliced so finely it will literally melt in your mouth.

How to eat the best porco preto in Lisbon?

This is a gourmet dish with a level of refinement you won't find in the average bar. Your guide on the Traditional Lisbon Food Tasting Experience will take you to sample porco preto, as well as other sophisticated Portuguese favorites.

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10. Enjoy the refreshing tang of vinho verde

The literal translation of vinho verde is green wine, but you might want to think of it as a young wine. With its soft, delicate flavor, this Northern Portuguese drink is a great choice if you like lighter wines.

How to drink the best vinho verde in Lisbon?

Most bars will have some vinho verde available to try, but Grapes & Bites in the Bairro Alto offers a particularly good selection.

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11. Enjoy the spice of Portugal's favorite surf and turf

You'll soon realize that Lisbon's cuisine is based on seafood and pork. Mix the two together, and what do you get? Carne de porco alentejana, a flavor-packed dish of pork, clams, and potatoes. With paprika, cilantro, and plenty of garlic, this dish is a real winner.

How to eat the best carne de porco alentejana in Lisbon?

The Casa do Alentejo restaurant, in a beautiful building with Moorish architecture, is the perfect setting for this delicious dish. Leave room for dessert, as their double chocolate mousse is also well worth trying.

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12. Have a healthy treat with caldo verde

Are you surprised to find caldo verde (green soup) on this list? This is an absolute Portuguese favorite. Its ingredients, mostly kale, and potatoes, may not seem that inspiring, but with a bit of cured pork for added punch and an incredibly flavorsome broth, this soup is so much more than the sum of its parts.

How to eat the best caldo verde in Lisbon?

O Caldo Verde is a restaurant literally named after this soup. This fuss-free, unpretentious place is a great choice for some authentic Portuguese home cooking.

FAQs

What are the must-try traditional dishes in Lisbon?

Bacalhau, bacalhau, bacalhau. Salt cod is practically an art form in Lisbon, with different bacalhau-based dishes on almost every menu. Follow it with a pastéis de nata, and you're good to go.

What are the best food tours in Lisbon

There are plenty of great food tours in Lisbon. Many of them will take you through the city center streets, stopping at different bars to try a couple of nibbles before moving on.

What are the top local food markets in Lisbon to visit?

You'll find a local market in every neighborhood in the city. The Mercado de Arroios is known for its international flair, while the Mercado 31 de Janeiro is the best for fresh fish. If you're looking to eat out rather than buy produce, go to the Time Out Market.

What is the best time of year to visit Lisbon for food lovers?

Foodies are in luck. Lisbon has great dishes all year round. Most menus change with the seasons, but there's always something worth trying.

How much should I budget for food in Lisbon?

Lisbon is quite cheap compared to most European capitals. You can eat out well for €15-€20 per head. If you want to push the boat out, you can expect to spend €30-€40. Travelers on a budget can keep prices down by sticking to street food, which will lower the price of a basic meal to around €10 or so.