The original, independent guide to Lisbon
The original, independent guide to Lisbon
Lisbon is a fantastic destination for food and eating out. The Portuguese are passionate about food, with a style of cooking that is distinctive to their country.
The regional dishes of Lisbon tend to be centred around seafood and fish, but the city’s history of trade and seafaring means spices and chill have always had a strong influence. One item you will frequently see on any menu is Bacalhau (salted sundried codfish), which supposedly can be cooked in 365 different ways!
Portuguese food has not travelled the world as famously as other European cuisines, and many of the dishes listed on menus may be completely unfamiliar. This article will detail the best traditional meals of Lisbon, which are definitely worth trying!
Sumptuous, full-flavoured Arroz de Marisco (Seafood Rice) is a speciality throughout Portugal. The Lisbon coastline boasts outstanding shellfish, due to the cold seawaters and high levels of iodine, and Arroz de Marisco is the dish to try them.
Into the broth, clams, prawns and mussels are added, while the Carolino rice absorbs the intense flavours. Arroz de Marisco could be compared to a Spanish Paella, but the Portuguese version is much more moist, almost stew-like.
Bacalhau com Natas translates to Bacalhau with (heavy) cream, and it is as rich and filling as the name implies!
This is an oven-cooked dish, with layers of Bacalhau and sliced fried potato, with a rich cream sauce keeping the whole dish moist. In typical Portuguese style, this incredibly filling meal is served with chips rice and salad.
Insight: Bacalhau com Natas was only first created in 1932, but the addition of cream to a is unique to Portuguese cooking and made it a favourite throughout the whole of Portugal.
A staple meat dish, which is served in every restaurant throughout Portugal.
The meal comprises of a fried steak served in a sauce (olive oil, red wine, garlic) and topped with a fried egg and along with the customary chips, rice and salad. The sauce varies significantly between restaurants; some serve the steak almost dry, while others provide lashings of the garlic sauce, used to fry the meat.
Bitoque makes for a great value lunch and is rarely more than €8.
The Portuguese have always loved their spicy food, but it was only in the 1970s that Frango a Piri-Piri was brought to Portugal with refugees fleeing the violence of Mozambique. The spicey chicken was instantly loved by Lisboetas who adopted it as a takeaway food (similar to Pizza in other countries).
Frango a Piri-Piri or Frango Assado (grilled chicken) has the chicken smothered in an incredibly spicey Piri-Piri sauce and flame-grilled. As you are eating in Lisbon, the chicken will be served with customary rice, chips and salad.
Insight: This is a spicy dish, but you can always ask for extra “Piri-Piri”, a mind-blowing chilli oil. This oil can always be asked as an accompaniment to other dishes.
Historic insight: The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama and 16th-century Portuguese traders introduced chilli to India and Asia.
A unique dish which combines pork and calms (in their shells), in a strong white wine and garlic sauce.
The white wine sauce which marinates the pork is infused with garlic, paprika, and into the stewing broth, the clams are added alive to open during the final few minutes of cooking. Often fried potato cubes are added into the broth.
The dish is named after the Alentejo region of Portugal, which is famed for its acorn-fed black pigs.
Feijoada is a bean and meat stew, which is often considered as the national dish of Brazilian but originated from Portugal. The Portuguese version uses white or kidney beans, instead of black beans, so is not the distinctive black colour as the Brazilian variance. Into the Feijoada a variety of meats can be added, such as chouriço, Morcela, beef and pork.
Feijoada is hearty and filling meal, ideal if you are hungry after a long day of sightseeing.
Delicious duck rice.
This is another genius Portuguese dish, which is adored by locals but unknown by foreigners. Arroz de Pato is an oven-baked dish, with the duck shredded and the rice cooked in the water used to boil the duck.
The rice is baked to crispiness, but the fats ensure it is moist and delicious. The dish is often cooked with a top layer of chouriço (Portuguese chorizo).
Alheira is a traditional Portuguese sausage, which is either drilled or fried and served with the chips, rice and salad combination. Unlike all other meals the rich flavoured sausage is served with no sauce or in a stew – this may appear a bit disappointing if other dining companions have extravagant fish dishes!
Historically, Alheira were filled with all meats except for pork, as they were first created by Portuguese Jews in the 15th century.
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