The Top Thing to Eat: Lisbon

Written: The Top Thing Staff | August 15, 2023

1. Cod

Bacalhau, or cod, is a fundamental ingredient in Portuguese cuisine. Its versatility allows for the creation of various delectable dishes such as Bacalhau à Brás, where shredded cod is sautéed with onions and bound with eggs and crispy fries. The seafood’s rich flavor makes it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

In Portugal, the tradition of preserving cod and chouriço dates back to the Age of Discovery when sailors needed non-perishable seafood and foods during long sea voyages. This historical significance has cemented bacalhau as an integral part of Portuguese culinary heritage.

The importance of bacalhau and seafood in Lisbon‘s gastronomy can be seen in its prevalence on restaurant menus throughout the city. From upscale restaurants to humble taverns, there are countless interpretations of this beloved dish available at affordable prices.

It’s fascinating how a single ingredient can embody centuries of history and cultural traditions while still being embraced by modern chefs who continue to innovate with new recipes that pay homage to this timeless staple.

2. Grilled sardines

Lisbon’s iconic dish during the summer months, grilled sardines are a must-try for seafood enthusiasts. These flavorful dishes are best enjoyed at outdoor festivals and local restaurants where they are prepared in a simple yet delicious manner.

At these restaurants, visitors can savor thin slices of perfectly grilled sardines, seasoned with just the right amount of salt and drizzled with high-quality olive oil. The experience encapsulates the authentic flavors of Lisbon’s culinary culture.

Grilled sardines represent more than just a dish; they embody the essence of traditional Portuguese cuisine. They serve as an excellent example of how simplicity in preparation can yield exceptional flavors, making them a popular choice among both locals and tourists.

This street food restaurant staple offers an affordable yet delectable option for those seeking authentic dining experiences. Whether enjoyed at traditional restaurants or as part of Lisbon’s vibrant street food culture, grilled sardines showcase the city’s commitment to preserving its culinary heritage while embracing innovative dishes.

3. Ameijòas à Bulhão Pato

Clams cooked in a garlic and coriander sauce create the delightful dish known as Ameijòas à Bulhão Pato. This seafood specialty is a beloved part of Lisbon’s culinary scene, offering visitors a taste of traditional Portuguese flavors and dishes.

Served with crusty bread, this savory dish allows diners to savor every bit of the delicious sauce. The combination of tender clams and the aromatic blend of garlic and coriander creates an unforgettable dining experience.

Ameijòas à Bulhão Pato restaurant represents more than just a meal; it embodies Portugal’s rich maritime heritage and its deep-rooted connection to seafood. For tourists seeking an authentic taste of Lisbon, indulging in this iconic dish at a local restaurant is an essential gastronomic experience.

4. Polvo à Lagareiro

Polvo à lagareiro is a dish showcasing the excellence of Portuguese seafood, prepared by a chef.

This traditional Portuguese dish highlights the simplicity and quality of its ingredients. The tender octopus, when prepared correctly by the chef, offers a delightful texture that pairs perfectly with the softness of the roasted potatoes.

At grocery stores in Lisbon, you can find fresh octopus to recreate this dish at home. It’s an excellent opportunity to experiment with authentic Portuguese flavors using local ingredients.

The use of olive oil in this dish not only adds flavor but also aligns with Portugal’s status as one of the world’s top producers of olive oil. It’s an essential component that contributes to both the taste and cultural significance of polvo à lagareiro.

In addition to being a popular item on restaurant menus across Lisbon, polvo à lagareiro has gained international recognition for its delectable combination of flavors and textures. Visitors often rave about their experience enjoying this classic Portuguese delicacy at the restaurant.

5. Cozido à Portuguesa

Cozido à Portuguesa is a traditional Portuguese stew renowned for its rich flavors and hearty composition. This beloved dish features an assortment of meats such as pork, beef, and sometimes chicken, combined with an array of vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and cabbage.

This iconic cuisine is cherished for its comforting and filling nature. It’s the kind of meal that warms both the body and soul, making it a staple during colder months or after a long day.

Moreover, Cozido à Portuguesa holds cultural significance in Portugal. It is often served during festive occasions like family gatherings or celebrations due to its communal nature – it brings people together around the dining table to enjoy a shared experience filled with delectable aromas and tastes.

In Lisbon’s vibrant culinary scene, this dish can be found in various restaurants across the city. The Chiado district particularly boasts several eateries and restaurants where locals and tourists alike can savor this quintessential Portuguese delight.

The inclusion of chouriço (chorizo) in Cozido à Portuguesa adds depth to its flavor profile while also exemplifying Portugal’s love affair with this savory sausage.

6. Prego & bifana

Prego and bifana are two popular street foods in Lisbon, offering a delicious insight into the city’s culinary scene. The prego is a steak sandwich typically served with garlic and beer sauce, creating a savory and succulent flavor profile that has made it a beloved choice among locals and visitors alike.

On the other hand, bifana consists of marinated pork served in a soft bread roll with spicy seasoning. The combination of tender pork and flavorful spices makes bifana an irresistible option for those looking to explore traditional Portuguese cuisine.

These dishes reflect the vibrant street food culture in Lisbon, where locals gather at food stalls or small eateries to savor these delectable treats on-the-go. The simplicity yet richness of flavors encapsulate the essence of Portuguese gastronomy.

Both prego and bifana showcase how Lisbon’s culinary heritage intertwines with its modern-day offerings, making them must-try items for anyone seeking an authentic taste experience while exploring this enchanting city.

7. Peixinhos da horta

Peixinhos da horta are tempura-style green beans or other vegetables that are crispy, light, and bursting with flavor. This appetizer is a popular choice in Lisbon due to its delightful taste and versatility.

This dish offers a unique twist on traditional tempura, making it an ideal option for those seeking a local culinary experience. The light batter perfectly complements the freshness of the vegetables, creating a harmonious blend of textures and flavors.

Peixinhos da horta is not only delicious but also perfect for sharing among friends or as a satisfying snack while exploring the vibrant streets of Lisbon. Its popularity among locals showcases its authenticity and appeal within the city’s food culture.

When indulging in peixinhos da horta, consider pairing it with wine from local winemakers or small producers to elevate the dining experience further. The combination of this delectable appetizer with locally sourced wine enhances the overall enjoyment and provides insight into Portuguese gastronomy at its finest.

8. Caldo verde

Caldo verde is a traditional Portuguese soup that features collard greens, potatoes, and chorizo. This hearty dish is deeply comforting and bursting with flavors, making it especially popular during the colder months in Lisbon.

The combination of tender collard greens and creamy potatoes creates a rich texture, while the addition of savory chorizo infuses the soup with a delightful smoky taste. Often served with a drizzle of olive oil on top, caldo verde offers a satisfying and wholesome dining experience.

In Portugal, caldo verde holds cultural significance as it represents home-cooked comfort food that brings people together at family gatherings or local celebrations. Its simplicity yet robust flavor profile has made it a staple in Lisbon’s culinary scene.

When visiting Lisbon, trying authentic caldo verde can provide insight into the country’s culinary traditions and regional ingredients. Whether enjoyed at a cozy restaurant or from a street vendor during festivities, this beloved soup offers an immersive taste of Portuguese culture.

9. Pastel de nata

Pastel de nata is an iconic Portuguese custard tart that boasts a delightful combination of creamy custard encased in flaky, buttery pastry. These tarts are best enjoyed warm, with a light dusting of cinnamon and powdered sugar to enhance the flavors.

When visiting Lisbon, indulging in a pastel de nata is a must-do experience. The city’s bakeries and cafes offer an array of variations on this classic treat, each with its own unique twist on the traditional recipe.

These custard tarts have gained international acclaim for their irresistible taste and texture. They have become synonymous with Portuguese cuisine and are beloved by locals and tourists alike.

In recent years, pastel de nata has garnered widespread popularity across the globe, making it not just a local delicacy but also a global sensation. It has even inspired numerous adaptations and spin-offs in bakeries worldwide.

The rich history behind these tarts adds to their allure; they were originally created by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery before being sold to Belém’s famous Pasteis de Belém bakery where they were first commercialized.

Whether you’re strolling through Lisbon’s charming streets or savoring these treats elsewhere in the world, pastel de nata offers an unforgettable culinary experience that encapsulates the essence of Portugal’s sweet gastronomic heritage.

10. Ginjinha

Ginjinha is a sweet cherry liqueur that is often served in chocolate cups, adding to its unique and indulgent appeal. This iconic drink is a must-try for visitors exploring the culinary delights of Lisbon. It’s not just a beverage; it’s an experience.

In Lisbon, ginjinha is more than just a drink; it’s a cultural tradition deeply rooted in the city’s history. Locals and tourists alike frequent specialized ginjinha bars throughout the city to savor this after-dinner delicacy. The vibrant atmosphere of these establishments adds to the overall enjoyment of partaking in this traditional Portuguese ritual.

The popularity of ginjinha extends beyond its taste; it serves as an emblem of Portuguese identity and heritage, making it an essential aspect of experiencing authentic Lisbon culture.

While white wine may be ubiquitous in many destinations, ginjinha offers a distinctive taste that reflects the essence of Lisbon itself. Its rich flavor profile and historical significance make it an integral part of any exploration into the gastronomic landscape of Portugal’s capital city.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the traditional Portuguese dish “Cod”?

Cod” is a popular Portuguese dish made with salted cod, potatoes, onions, and eggs. It’s a staple in Portuguese cuisine and can be prepared in various ways such as Bacalhau à Brás or Bacalhau com Natas.

Where can I find the best “Pastel de nata” in Lisbon?

The best place to try “Pastel de nata” in Lisbon is at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém. They have been serving these delicious custard tarts since 1837, using a secret recipe that has made them famous worldwide.

What are “Peixinhos da horta”?

Peixinhos da horta,” which translates to “little fish from the garden,” are deep-fried green beans coated in batter. This traditional Portuguese dish resembles small fried fish but is actually vegetarian-friendly and incredibly tasty.

Can you describe what “Caldo verde” is?

Sure! “Caldo verde” is a classic Portuguese soup made with thinly sliced kale, potatoes, olive oil, and often chorizo or linguiça sausage for added flavor. It’s hearty and perfect for warming up on chilly days.

What makes “Ginjinha” a must-try when visiting Lisbon?

“Ginjinha” is a sweet cherry liqueur that originated in Lisbon. Drinking it from tiny chocolate cups adds an extra layer of enjoyment to this delightful experience while taking in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.