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.
Historically, Lisboetas dishes needed to feed large families, and were cooked in large pots or baking trays. These dishes would be placed at the centre of the table, with the accompaniments of rice, breads, potatoes and salads. Today, restaurant dining still reflects this heritage, with rich and filling dishes, and plates crammed with rice, chips and salads.
One item you will frequently see on any menu is Bacalhau, a codfish which has been salted and dried in the sun. The Portuguese adore Bacalhau, and there is supposedly 365 different ways to cook it this versatile fish.
Portuguese food has not travelled the world as famously as other European cuisines, this does not mean it is lacking, just that the world has not fully discovered it yet. As many dishes listed on menus will be completely unfamiliar, visitors often shy away from the unknown or more unique dishes.
This article will detail the best tradition meals routinely seen on Lisbon restaurant menus, 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 powerful 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!
It is an oven-cooked dish of 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 absolutely 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 accompanying sauce varies significantly between restaurants; some serve the steak almost dry, while others provide an intense garlic sauce based on the oil the meat was cooked in.
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 the immigration of 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” which is served as 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 pork acorn-fed pork, but originates from the Algarve, with its (once) plentiful shellfish.
Feijoada is very simar to Cozido à Portuguesa but is a bean stew, using very similar sausages and meats.
Often seen, is the Brazilian variation, which uses black beans instead of white beans, and has a much darker appearance. 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 often unknown by foreigners.
Arroz de Pato is an oven-baked dish, in which the duck is shredded, and cooked with the rice to infuse the strong favours from the duck fats. The dish is often cooked with a top layer of chouriço (Portuguese chorizo), which enhances the flavour.
The rice is baked to crispiness, but the fats ensure it is moist and delicious.
Alheira is a traditional Portuguese sausage, which is either drilled or fried and served with the rice/chips/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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