Discovering the local cuisine is part of any enjoyable holiday, and with the diversity and quality on offer in Lisbon, foodies are spoiled for choice. From traditional favourites, like sardines and pasteis de nata (custard tarts), to cutting-edge Michelin star dining, there’s something for every palate and budget.
For this guide, the Lisbon Tourism Association has shared with us some of the delicious flavours found in some of the most popular tourist districts to give visitors an authentic taste of Lisbon.
Alfama is one of Lisbon’s oldest and most atmospheric neighbourhoods, and its cobbled streets are one of the best areas to get traditional local cuisine. Tasca’s are simple, budget-friendly restaurants – often family-run – serving rustic-style dishes, usually with a daily special such as bacalhau (salted cod) or feijoada (bean stew). Another speciality to be found at the tasca’s is petiscos, small bites similar to tapas that can be enjoyed with a drink while listening to the mournful sounds of fado, the traditional sound of the city.
Chic and sophisticated, Chiado (main image) is a cosmopolitan area of grand 18th-century buildings, theatres, designer shops, old-style cafes and the world’s oldest bookstore. It’s also the place to find some of the best places to eat in Lisbon, from the finest of Portuguese gastronomy to cutting-edge contemporary dining from Michelin-star chefs.
Fish plays a significant role in menus across Lisbon, but for an authentic seafood experience, visitors should head south across the Tagus to the seaside town of Setúbal. Once a key port in Portugal’s fishing industry, it is still the place to find the freshest of dishes, expertly prepared. Sardines are a speciality here, along with the famous choco Frito (fried cuttlefish), massadas de peixe (fish stew), red mullet and oysters.
Sitting beneath the 25 de Abril Bridge, on the riverside between Belém and Baixa, lie the Docas de Santo Amaro. Here, the old warehouses of the Santo Amaro docks have been transformed into cosmopolitan restaurants and bars with outdoor terraces overlooking the waterfront marina. From fresh fish and local specialities to a host of international favourites, this is a beautiful area for relaxing with friends and people-watching.
As well as being home to two magnificent World Heritage-listed monuments – Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower – this area is also a paradise for sweet-toothed visitors to Lisbon. The famous pasteis de Belém (egg custard tarts) were created here in the 19th century at the Jerónimos monastery, and only those made to the secret recipe at the Casa Pasteis de Belém can use the name; elsewhere in the city, they are called pasteis de nata. Queues build up outside the bakery at peak times, so it pays to get there early.
Cais do Sodre
The famous nightlife area of Cais do Sodre is also the place to find trendy cafes and bohemian bistros, as well as riverfront restaurants and bars with huge terraces overlooking the Tagus. This area is also home to the Mercado da Ribeira, a vast fresh food market and food court filled with local delicacies, food stalls and pop-ups. Top tip: many of the eateries are run by famous Portuguese chefs.
Vibrant Baixa is Lisbon’s main shopping and commercial district, with elegant streets and grand squares of neo-classical buildings. As well as being one of the most popular tourist areas, it also caters to the local office crowd, with a vast choice of restaurants and open-air cafes, many offering good value fixed price menus. Those on the magnificent Praça do Comércio square combine river vistas with some of Lisbon’s most spectacular architecture.
For more information, ideas, and inspiration on visiting Lisbon, please go to www.visitlisboa.com.
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