Edited by Holly Jenson
In an ever-changing city with an amazing nightlife, history and culture, one of the best things about Lisbon is our food. Bordering Spain and the Atlantic Ocean; Lisbon’s traditional Portuguese food is a mix of tasty tapas and sumptuous seafood; there’s so much variety for you to sink your teeth into. I work as a walking tour guide and after four years of leading visitors around our winding streets, I am still finding new hidden restaurants! I’ve rounded up the best eateries in the city so you can have a local experience of all the must-eats in Lisbon, and kick-start your trip with the crème de la crème of our food culture.
Pasteis de Nata at Pasteis de Belem
People always ask me on my tours, ‘what food is Lisbon known for?’ and I say that it’s most definitely Pasteis de Nata. These sweet custard tarts are the most typical Lisbon street food and you can buy them everywhere, but locals know the best place to go is Pasteis de Belem. The perfect combination of crispy and creamy, this place have used the same secret recipe since 1837 and create the best tarts in town! This truly is one of the must-eat foods in Lisbon and you can afford to try a few; these will only set you back 1 euro each! Sitting on the edge of the Botanical gardens, this is the best place to cosy up with a custard tart and a coffee after a busy day trip to Belem; you’ll want some sugar after all that sightseeing! Pasteis de Belem is one of the most well-loved cafes in the city and a vital part of your Lisbon food tour.
Patatas Bravas at Tapisco
One of the best things to do in Lisbon is take part in our tasty tapas tradition. For the best small plates in the city, Tapisco is the place to be. The bright red door will lure you in from the streets and the menu and relaxed diner feel will make you want to stay. One of the best things to try in here is Lisbon street food favourite patatas Bravas. Crisped to perfection and covered in a creamy sauce, these potatoes pack a punch and will make for a meal to remember, you won’t want to share! Tapisco also serve a number of traditional Portuguese food petiscos (snacks) like fresh prawns and cuttlefish. With so many small plates to tempt your taste buds, I would recommend getting a variety of dishes to share with a friend; this is one of the best restaurants in Lisbon for a relaxed afternoon trying the city’s delicacies.
Sardines at Santo Antonio’s Celebrations
One of the best places to eat in Lisbon is as part of the Santo Antonio Festival, held annually on the 12th and 13th of June. I always say that Lisbon is a city with the soul of the small village and the Santo Antonio Festival is one of the best examples of this. The streets are filled with balloons, arches and bursts of colour and locals are everywhere barbecuing one of the must-eat foods in Lisbon: sardines. Crispy with a kick, the fish here is always delicious and melts in the mouth; it’s the perfect snack for this important event. As you tuck in, locals flood the squares drinking and dancing together, there is a pure feeling of celebration that will make you glad you came.
Bifanas at Casa das Bifanas
Bifanas are some of the best street food in Lisbon and an absolute must-eat! A humble dish, bifanas are simply a papo seco bread roll and thin pieces of pork that have been marinated in white wine, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika and garlic. The best place to find this traditional Portuguese delicacy is at Casa das Bifanas in Praca da Figueira. The bifanas here are always cooked to perfection, with fresh and crusty bread rolls and succulent meat; having a relaxed lunch here is one of the most local things to do in Lisbon. Sitting in the city centre, Casa das Bifanas is a perfect stop for a quick bite after a morning sightseeing in Mouraria or exploring our miradouros.
Bacalhau na Brasa at Zé da Mouraria
If you’re looking for where to eat in Lisbon, I always recommend Ze da Mouraria. Knock on the green door at 24 R. João do Outeiro and you’ll be welcomed into a true hidden gem of our city. The room is decorated with a quirky mix of historic photos, traditional tablecloths and herbs hanging from the ceiling. One of the top Lisbon restaurants where locals eat, people love to come here to spend an afternoon sharing wine and a huge platter of traditional Portuguese food with friends. The must-eat dish in here is Bacalhau na Brasa, roasted codfish with potatoes, vegetables and a medley of spices. This Is a Portuguese national dish and one of the best ways to get a taste of the city’s food culture. Hiding in the cobbled streets of Mouraria, this is the perfect place to come for dinner after watching one of Lisbon’s famous Fado shows.
Bife a Portuguesa at O Trigueirinho
Another great place for traditional Portuguese food is O Triguerinho in the Alfama district. This small family-run restaurant is always full of happy locals and every dish in here is made with their own secret recipes. My favourite is their Bife a Potuguesa; marinated steak seared and crowned with a fried egg. Usually served with crispy potatoes and salad, this is a great hearty meal to refuel after a morning exploring the Alfama district. The chefs also serve a great variety of fresh seafood in here which keeps business booming, so you may need to book in advance to secure a seat! The sky blue traditional building will draw you in from the cobbled streets and the happy community of locals inside will make you feel at peace instantly. With a friendly and inviting atmosphere, you’ll be happy you stumbled across this homely hidden gem.
Cozido à Portuguesa at Ti Natercia
Ti Natercia is one of the best restaurants in Lisbon and I would recommend it to anyone looking to taste amazing Portuguese food. This cosy place is run solely by one local woman and she uses all her own family recipes, it feels like you’re going for dinner at your Grandma’s! She only serves a few dishes but the menu changes every few weeks as everything is made with seasonal fruit and veg. My favourite dish in here is Cozido à Portuguesa. Another national dish of Portugal, this stew is a mixture of beef, chicken, pork, spiced sausages, cabbage, beans, potatoes carrots and rice and is one of the most comforting meals in Portuguese food culture. The meat is tender and the sauce has a slight kick to it, all of this combined with the feeling of Grandma’s living room makes you want to sink into your chair and never get up again. For dinner in a home from home, make sure you head to Ti Natercia on your Lisbon food tour.
Seafood at Cervejaria Ramiro
Bordering the Atlantic, there are plenty of places in Lisbon where you can have fresh seafood, but Cervejaria Ramiro is definitely one of the best. Housed in a well-loved Lisbon beer hall, the restaurant is spread over three floors but there’s always a queue for a table; it’s hugely popular with the locals. Most Lisbon residents will start their meal off with a martini and then study the huge wine list; you’ll need a few minutes for this! Their speciality in here is shellfish; the best in my opinion are the garlic shrimp. I would recommend getting a few plates to share among friends; it’s the best way to experience all the tastes on offer. With bright white tablecloths and classy décor, this is a great place to see the luxurious side of the city, it’s definitely one of the best restaurants in Lisbon.
Tapas at Jam Club
If you’re looking for funkier dinner, head over to Jam Club on a Friday or Saturday night. This cosy modern bar welcomes different local artists every week in a celebration of music and Portuguese culture. Take a seat at one of the communal tables and tuck into some tapas while the bands play; there’s no experience quite like it. The small size of the bar means that the acoustics are amazing and you can really connect with the artist, it’s a great way to discover new genres. Jam Club is perfect for some light food and a fun night out with friends. The atmosphere is always upbeat and full of life and you can hear the crowd cheering from the streets outside; you’ll be so glad you stumbled across this place. Sitting in the centre of Bairro Alto, this is also ideal if you want to continue your night at the other bars in the heart of Lisbon’s vibrant nightlife.
Curated Plates at the Time Out market
A paradise for foodies, the Time Out Market is the first market in the world where everything has been tried and tested before being revealed, you’ll only get the best of the best here. As well as some of the must eat foods in Lisbon such as codfish and custard tarts, there is a huge variety of burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, soups on offer here and so many international cuisines; you could spend a whole afternoon tasting all of these flavours. There are over 40 spaces to explore and the rows of wooden benches allow you to enjoy these tasty tapas plates with other delighted members of the foodie community. The most well-known Lisbon food market, a chance to visit this celebration of food is one of the top reasons people visit Lisbon.
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