Blue tiles facades and warm breezy weather might be Lisbon’s trademarks, but the local food is the experience to go after in Portugal’s vivid capital.
Pasteis de nata each morning, fresh and colorful seafood plates for lunch and pasteis de bacalhau during late sunny afternoons are the tastiest memories I brought back from my Portugal trip.
So let’s dig in the most rewarding food experiences in Lisbon and around!
We’ll take a peek into the wonderful Portuguese cuisine, trying to find the top foods and drinks in Portugal, as well as some lovely restaurants to try out in Lisbon, Sintra, Porto and Cascais.
Top Culinary Experiences to have in Lisbon and Portugal
Pasteis de Nata – what is it and where to eat it
Pasteis de Bacalhau – what is it, where to taste it + how it’s made video
Fresh Sea Food – Sushi in Lisbon and much more
DIY Beef Steak – where to eat it
Portuguese Drinks – must-haves and nice surprises
10+ Restaurants and Places to Wine & Dine in Lisbon and around
- Pasteis de Nata at Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon
Waking up in blooming Lisbon with two little pieces of Pasteis de Nata next to a cup of coffee is one of the best ways to start the day.
Because Pasteis de Nata is a delicate custard tart filled with a sweet melting vanilla cream that will go on your top desserts’ list. Served hot, with cinnamon and confectionary sugar sprinkled on top, this tiny tart is the best breakfast option in Lisbon.
And you can find different versions of it everywhere; we only had them for breakfast at a nearby coffee shop – Pastelarie sa Cafeteria and at the famous Pasteis de Belem, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it everywhere.
Pasteis de Belem is the most famous place for pasteis de nata in Lisbon, so we had to try it here.
This establishment has been around since 1873, and it’s a must-try spot for all tart lovers out there.
Discouraged by the permanent crowd at the entrance, we chose to sit and enjoy it in one of the pastry house’s rooms, where there was plenty of space to savor the experience. The place is bigger than it looks from the outside, and charmingly decorated with azulejos as all Portuguese interiors are.
Surprisingly, pasteis de nata was no different from the one we had each morning at the humble coffee shop near our hotel. Maybe they buy it from Pasteis de Belem, maybe not, but it was just as good. Anyway, pasteis de nata should go on your must-taste list when visiting Lisbon.
- Pasteis de Bacalhau at Casa Portuguesa do Pastel do Bacalhau, Lisbon
Pasteis de Bacalhau – code fish dumplings with cheese, best served with a glass of white sparkling wine – is a Portuguese specialty you want to try. Trust me, they taste better than they sound and the white wine changes the whole tasting experience, so it’s a surprisingly great combo.
Even if you can find it everywhere in Portugal, we had the best ones at Casa Portuguesa do Pastel do Bacalhau in Lisbon and Porto.
If you’re curious about how Pasteis de Bacalhau is made, play our video below:
3. Grilled Octopus, Jamon, and many other goodies at Time Out – Mercado de Ribeiro, Lisbon
Mercado de Ribeiro is a foodie’s Heaven and the place where everybody in Lisbon seems to gather for lunch. It’s actually a food court, but the eats you’re going to find here will make your visit memorable, to say the least.
Time Out is the name of this lovely place inside Mercado de Ribeira and it has something for everyone. As a big sea food lover, I went for the grilled octopus, but we also had to try the Portuguese jamon specialties (since Iberian Peninsula is famous for it). Both were amazing, and the fruit cocktails here also worth it.
- Restaurante Cabaças – DIY Steaks on Hot Stones in Lisbon
If you love the idea of cooking your own steak just the way you like it, then you’ll love Cabacas.
They give you a memorable local experience, especially since everyone here eats the same thing – veal steak on hot stones, making the place smell so inviting that it’s hard to resist and order something else.
We arrived at the 10 tables Cabacas restaurant in Lisbon by chance, after seeing the long, never-ending lines going down the street from the Trip Advisor restaurant we wanted to dine in.
Still, Cabacas seemed to be on the most-wanted list of places to eat in Lisbon, and it can be overcrowded at times. We were fortunate enough to get in early, around 6 p.m., but when we got out at 7.30 p.m., people were forming a line on the street, waiting to get a table. So get in early and do have those yummy steaks!
- Sushi San – fresh and delicious Sushi in Lisbon
You might think: What, Sushi in Lisbon? Yes, please, try it!
With lots of fresh fish around, Lisbon is probably one of the best places to have Sushi in Europe.
We went to Sushi San in Joao Crisos Tomo and had the most delicious Salmon Carpaccio along with somewhat more traditional sushi rolls and also the best Sangria I’ve ever had. Don’t know what makes it so lovely, but I guess a mix of apple slices, cinnamon sticks and a wonderful blend of liqueurs gives it an unforgettable flavor.
- Octopus Carpaccio – A Praça – LX Factory, Lisbon
LX Factory is one of Lisbon’s hidden gems – a creative place based on the grounds of an old factory, gathering Lisbon’s youth and cool locals.
This place is a wonderland for design aficionados, but it also has lots of hip cafés and restaurants, bookshops like Ler Devagar, and famous street artworks like the giant garbage fly by Bordalo Segundo.
A Praça is one of the hip restaurants in this area. We stopped here in our last day in Lisbon for a good burger and a tiny octopus Carpaccio with a side salad – it was delicious and the serving was top notch.
If you have more time, try Landau Chocolate next door – don’t know about the chocolate, but the place has a cozy atmosphere you’ll certainly love.
- Magnum Pleasure Store in Lisbon
It was the first time to visit a Magnum Pleasure Store, and the new one in Lisbon caught our eye on instagram, so we had to try it. Not typical of Portugal or Lisbon, I know, but this is ice cream heaven. Go have a taste and you’ll also get the chance to admire one of the most beautiful azulejos facades in Lisbon, just across the street.
*And while we’re on the subject of iced goodies, have fruity frozen yoghurt in the park leading to Torre de Belem. You’ll love it!
- Coffee & Drinks at Luatasco Tipico, Alfama, Lisbon
This place has a gorgeous summer garden, hidden on the narrow cobble stone streets of Alfama neighborhood. We had some code fish fillet and a pork fillet with mushrooms, both decent enough, but it’s not the greatest place to have a Portuguese meal. Still, that beautiful summer garden is lovely for having coffee or drinks, so if you find yourself in Alfama on a hot day, do stop by.
- Mussels at Palm Tree International Restaurant in Cascais
There are a number of places you can have delicious food in Cascais, but I found this one to have a particular charm about it, probably because of its local vibe – some football game was on and the terrace placed in an open square was filled with people.
We had mussels and burgers, both a pretty good treat after wandering the beautiful streets and beaches of Cascais for a few hours.
*After having a light seafood meal in this beautiful beach resort near Lisbon, you can hop on a bus and visit Cabo da Roca – the western edge of Europe.
- Tacho Real Restaurant in Sintra
Sometimes the best restaurant is the one recommended by locals. So we asked a nice shop keeper for the best place to eat in Sintra and she recommended Tacho Real. Later on, we found out it’s also the top place to eat in Sintra according to Trip Advisor.
They only open at 7, so we had some waiting to do, but it was worth it. The serving was great; the beef they recommended was extraordinary.
We enjoyed our meal on the small terrace outside, but I recommend you try wining and dining in their very elegant and cozy atmosphere, in a dim light, proper of a delicious and elegant meal.
**Restaurants to avoid in Lisbon:
Ronda del Castel (near Sao Jorge castle) is not the best place to have a meal and should be avoided (undercooked seafood is not pleasant).
Porto Wine – originating from the Douro Valley nearby – has an abundance of varieties, but the ones recommended to me were the Tawny varieties, caramel –flavored, sweet and strong, denser than a brandy. The best place to taste it is, of course, in Porto or the Douro Valley.
You should definitely go wine tasting in Porto, before or after a cable-car ride in Villa Nova de Gaia, across from the old picturesque Ribeiro neighborhood.
Wines – going wine tasting should be on top of your to-do list for a trip in Portugal. You’ll find many wine bars in Lisbon and Porto, but make sure to make a reservation for the next day (they’re usually overcrowded during the summer).
Portuguese Sangria – it was better than the Spanish ones I’ve tasted so far in Barcelona and Valencia. I guess the Portuguese combo is more flavored because of the wonderful blend of cinnamon sticks, apples, oranges and lemons, and a special liqueur that makes it all perfect. Try it at Sushi San in Joao Crisos Tomo.
Ginja – Beirão and Ginjinha – an interesting flavored Portuguese liqueur, pretty sweet and perfect for a sangria mix, although good as a stand-alone appetizer drink.
These are the best places we found in Lisbon, Sintra, Porto and Cascais, but I’m sure there are many others equally good, Portuguese food being so light and savory. Hope you’ll enjoy it in your Portuguese holiday!
*Mobile Photography by Ana Matei©, Video by Vlad Isac©
Hope you’ll have awesome food experiences in Lisbon & Portugal!
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