Located on the Atlantic Ocean and famously built on seven hills, Lisbon is utterly charming. The streets are lined with colourful tiled buildings, yellow trams ply the cobbled lanes and the sun shines here more than almost any other city in Europe.
The other wonderful thing about Lisbon is the food.
Portuguese cuisine is fresh, wholesome and full of flavour. In Lisbon, you’ll find a mixture of traditional favourites that you be enjoyed while listening to a fado performance. You’ll also find new-wave dishes served up in experimental restaurants. Whatever you do, however, there are some Lisbon dishes that you simply must try.
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[author] [author_info]Wondering where to eat in Lisbon? Take a look at these 15 excellent restaurants. This post shares the best things to do in Lisbon with kids and this one reveals my favourite shops in Lisbon – from a family-run traditional shop to the oldest bookstore in the world.[/author_info] [/author]
What to eat in Lisbon
Hard as it may be to believe, there’s more to Lisbon than pastel de Nata. Although truth be told, I ate at least one custard tart every day during my stay.
One of the best ways to get beyond the Portuguese pastries is on a tour. We regularly take a WithLocals tour when visiting a new city and next time I go to Lisbon I’m keen to try their Foodie Families tour. This three-hour walking food tour promises to introduce families to some of the best foods in Lisbon from the traditional caldo verde (kale soup) to the quintessential Portuguese seafood dish, polvo a lagareiro. And hopefully some custard tarts in between.
In anticipation of our culinary adventure, I have collaborated with Withlocals to discover the seven best Lisbon dishes that all visitors to the Portuguese capital should try.
Pastéis de Nata
Arguably Portugal’s most famous dish, the pasteis de nata came from very humble beginnings.
The story goes that monks in the nearby Jeronimos Monastery were the original creators of the pasteis de nata and, after the monastery was closed by the state, a monk sold the recipe to a bakery in the Belém district.
The family went on to found the famous bakery in Belem where the original tarts are still made – and the exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret!
Pastéis de Bacalhau
Bacalhau, salted cod, is Portugal’s favourite ingredient. It’s so popular that there are more Bacalhau recipes than there are days in the year!
Bacalhau à brás, which is shredded codfish with fried potato, onion and scrambled eggs, is one of the most popular options but if you’re visiting Lisbon with kids then I’d say go for pastéis de bacalhau. These fritters are not dissimilar to fish cakes and are made using cod, boiled potatoes, eggs, parsley and onion.
I loved the grilled sardines on bread that I ate when I visited Lisbon but it’s hard to love them as much as the locals.
Freshly caught and grilled, sardines are so popular that they’re practically a national dish. The Lisboetas are so fond of them that there’s even a word for enjoying sardines together, sardinhada.
If you’re hoping to try them yourself, time your visit to Lisbon for the spring and summer months. And, if you want to take some home with you, make sure to visit the Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines.
Cozido à Portuguesa
For a truly traditional dish, you need to try Cozido à Portuguesa. Otherwise known as ‘rich man’s stew’, the cozido has its origins in Portugal’s rural villages where families cooked with whatever meat and vegetables they had in the house.
A traditional cozido is a mixture of potatoes, carrots, sausages, cabbage, beans and beef but you may find some with pig ears and pig feet added, which may cause amusement / horror with your kids!
Piri Piri Chicken
One dish guaranteed to get the kids excited is Piri Piri Chicken. This dish of char-grilled chicken with a spicy piri piri sauce has its roots in Angola and Mozambique where Portuguese settlers arrived with chile peppers, which were known as piri-piri in Swahili. Today this is one of the Portugal’s tastiest dishes and a favourite with families.
Another hugely popular dish to try in Lisbon is bifana. A pork sandwich by any other name, the popular snack is made from thin slices of pork marinated in white wine and garlic which is then fried and put into a bun. Simple yet delicious.
Admittedly ice cream is not really a Portuguese dish but the country takes its gelado very seriously. Plus, what child doesn’t like ice cream?!
There are some great places in Lisbon to grab a scoop or two but one of the best places to go is Gelados Santini, which has been serving royal families across Europe (and mere mortals, too) for generations.