Lisbon (Lisboa), the capital of Portugal, is a great city break destination. Also, the World Travel Awards 2018 announced Lisbon to be the World's Leading City Destination so there is no wonder why this the place to visit this summer.
The Portuguese love to eat and to enjoy their time with dear ones. People spend hours at the table, enjoying starters, main courses, desserts, coffee and digestives. Food is a serious matter in Portugal!
We know the summer is coming but being on a diet when in Lisbon just isn’t an option. Great flavours, excellent aromas and many delicious Mediterranean dishes to try are just some of the reasons why you should visit Portugal capital. And besides all the great main dishes, the Portuguese are really known for their “sweet tooth teeth”.
Below is our suggestion of the top 5 tasty delights you must try when visiting Portugal:
If you had the chance to read anything on Portugal cuisine, you already know that Bacalhau (dry and salted codfish) is considered the iconic ingredient and some say there are at least 1000 ways to prepare it or at least 365 for each day of the year. In this fish-loving country, it is interesting that Bacalhau is not consumed fresh. It is often cooked on social occasions and is the traditional Christmas Eve dinner.
Bacalhau is often served with potatoes. Green (Vinho Verde) or mature wines (Alentejo Wine, Dão Wine, or Douro Wine) are served alongside.
Which version of Bacalhau is the tastiest? Of course, this is something you need to try for yourself, our colleague Maja lived in Portugal for a year and she recommends Bacalhau à Brás: “It may look a little messy on the plate, but it’s the best comfort food ever! It is made from shreds of salted cod with chopped fried potatoes and onions, all bound with scrambled eggs and with marinated black olives and fresh parsley on top.”
The origin of the recipe is uncertain, but it is said to have originated in Bairro Alto, an old quarter of Lisbon. The "à Brás" technique is often used with other ingredients, such as vegetables and mushrooms.
#2 Pastel de Nata
Who visits Lisbon can’t afford to miss the pastel de nata. This Portuguese tart is the most famous egg tart pastry filled with custard cream, baked at 200°C for that perfect golden crust and sprinkled with cinnamon.
The most famous ones are "Pastéis de Belém" (Belém Pastries), where the first natas were ever sold in 1837. Belem is the charming district to the west of central Lisbon and is the setting for many of the capital’s most iconic tourist attractions. Right next to the Jerónimos Monastery, there was a sugar cane refinery connected to a small shop and when the Monastery was closed, someone from the Monastery placed sweet pastries for sale.
Between tourists and locals, it’s estimated that every day 20,000 Belém Pastries are sold, and, during some weekends, this number may double.
Simple, but soooo tasty. Bifana is one of the most popular snacks in Portugal and can be found on almost any food stall or food truck in the streets of Lisbon. Bifana is simply thin slices of pork steak which has been marinated in stock and red pepper paste, then fried, and served in a crusty bread roll. Some people add hot sauce or mustard, but it’s not necessary. It is best accompanied by a cold beer.
#4 Sardinhas (Sardines)
It’s no secret that Portugal has the best fish in the world and that Portuguese are passionate about everything that the sea has to offer. But what they like best are sardines. And they consume tons of sardines, it’s said that the Portuguese consume 13 sardines per second. Beat that!
The best season to eat fresh sardines is during the summer season, but they are “the freshest” in June when the people of Lisbon greet their patron saint, Saint Anthony. When freshly caught, they are grilled on the charcoal and ate with the famous roasted peppers salad and boiled potatoes.
On the annual Feast of St. Anthony Sardine Festival (12-13. 6. 2019) Lisbon will be buzzing with light, colour and music in a state of a permanent street party to commemorate the Popular Saints. You can enjoy the parade of the traditional neighbourhoods down the Avenida da Liberdade and the Arraiais (street parties) at all city neighbourhoods in which the grilled sardines are an essential feature. This party is uniquely lisboeta and draws thousands of people every year onto the streets of the city and lasts to the early morning next day.
The alternative to fresh sardines are canned or conservas Sardinhas which are now a trendy Portuguese delicacy. You will see adorable tinned sardines throughout Lisbon, with prices ranging between a couple of euros to some serious cash.
Alongside the sardines, a glass of good Portuguese wine sums up a perfect meal.
Ginja is a Portuguese liqueur made by infusing Ginja berries (sour cherry) in alcohol and adding sugar together with other ingredients. It’s typical in Lisbon, and definitely worth trying while you’re there. Locals are known to drink this popular drink all hours of the day and many people just stop for a quick shot of Ginja while strolling the streets of Lisbon.
As mentioned Ginja is served in a shot form with a piece of the fruit in the bottom of the cup. In Óbidos, Ginja is normally served in a shot glass made from chocolate.