Today let’s dive into Lisbon, one of my favorite food cities in the entire world! I share my list of the top 12 must try foods in Lisbon, which you can easily check off whether in town for a weekend break or a month-long adventure.
My first visit to Lisbon was in 2007. I was a study abroad student in Granada, and spent a long weekend in Lisbon. This was a time before I had discovered blogs and TripAdvisor — so I pretty much survived the weekend on custard tarts and supermarket ham and cheese.
Many years later, Lisbon is one of my favorite cities. It’s one of the only places I could truly see myself living (apart from Madrid and Seville), and I hope to get a chance to live in Lisbon in the near future.
For now, I’ll have to make do with frequent trips! Luckily, Devour Tours is launching new food tours in Lisbon (April 2019). This means I’ve been back and forth to the city many times these past months (someone has to do quality control after all!).
Eating Our Way Through Lisbon
Because I’ve been traveling to Lisbon so often, my list of what to eat and where has been growing and growing. I have a full Lisbon food guide here, but if you want to simply cut to the chase, these are the thirteen things you need to seek out.
13 Must Try Foods in Lisbon
If you go to Lisbon, here’s what you cannot miss!
1. Pastel de Nata
First on the list is a simple sweet that has become a bit of a viral obsession. But unlike most food trends, this is one with a long history. The humble pastel de nata dates back to the 1800s when monasteries made them as a way to use up extra egg yolks. You can find out all about the history of the pastel de nata (also called pastel de Belem) here.
Looking for the best pastel de nata in Lisbon?
Everyone has their favorite, but mine is undoubtedly A Manteigaria, where you can see them being made before your eyes and enjoy them fresh out of the oven!
Another of my must try foods in Lisbon is the humble bifana. This Lisboan sandwich puts other sandwiches to shame. It’s extremely simple, but that’s why it really shines.
A bifana is made of thinly sliced pork that’s been slowly cooked in white wine, garlic, and spices. It comes out of the cauldron and goes directly into a hearty bread roll. Some people choose to add mustard or a splash of spicy piri piri sauce to their sandwich. Either way, it’s mandatory to wash it all down with a cold beer!
Where is the best bifana in Lisbon?
I love the classic spot As Bifanas do Afonso – no seats, no frills — just great bifanas!
See also: Read all about bifanas here!
Like Spain, Portugal is one of the best places in the world for fish and shellfish. The variety and freshness is unreal. Clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster… even barnacles… Lisbon has it all!
My pick for the best shellfish in Lisbon:
Although it’s touristy and often has a very long wait time, I have to recommend the famous Cervejaria Ramiro for excellent shellfish in Lisbon. The jumbo prawns are the best I’ve ever had. Others are obsessed with their brown crabs, and their razor clams are also excellent.
Need more tips? Check out these 8 spots for seafood in Lisbon.
You will see adorable tinned sardines throughout Lisbon, with prices ranging between a couple of euros to some serious cash. That’s because the quality of canned goods in Lisbon is incredible, and sardines are the signature canned fish.
Where can you find the best canned sardines in Lisbon?
I’d recommend the Conserveira de Lisboa where you can’t go wrong!
5. Caldo Verde
Often called Portugal’s national dish, caldo verde is a satisfying and healthy soup that is one of the top must try foods in Lisbon. Caldo verde is a kale and sausage soup– though many recipes use collard greens or even cabbage instead. This is a dish you’ll find in almost all Lisbon restaurants, from tiny taverns with chalkboard menus to fine dining renditions in posh hotels.
Another of Lisbon’s famous sandwiches is the prego — a garlicky steak sandwich you’ll find in classic spots. The prego is a must try food in Lisbon, and gives the delicious bifana a run for its money!
Salt cod is an integral part of Portugal’s history, and one of the most delicious foods to try in Lisbon. There are countless Portuguese salt cod recipes (and even entire salt cod cookbooks) but some favorites are salt cod croquettes and bacalhau com natas (salt cod with a cream-based sauce).
Where to eat the best cod in Lisbon?
It’s a bit outside of the city center, but I absolutely loved all of the delicious cod options I tried at A Casa do Bacalhau. It is a beautiful restaurant with delicious food. I dream of going back!
Portuguese rotisserie chicken is so delicious that an entire fast food restaurant is based on its success (see Nando’s)! And in Lisbon, you can definitely find delicious chicken with spicy piri piri sauce.
This incredible and unique Portuguese cheese is not actually made in Lisbon, but unless you’re heading out of town you should definitely enjoy some while here. It was named among the 50 best gastronomic products in the world in 2014! You can find this delicious cheese at Lisbon’s best wine and cheese bars.
There is no better way to warm up during Lisbon’s cooler winter months than with a heaping plate of cozido. This Portuguese stew varies by region and by chef, but generally consists of a variety of meats (chicken, beef, sausages, pork – even pig ear) and boiled vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and cabbage.
Ginjinha is a sour cherry liquor that is worth tasting in Lisbon — even if liquors aren’t usually your thing. There are even a handful of tiny ginjinha bars that serve this delicious drink. Check out the article below for a list of recommendations.
One of my most recent food discoveries in Lisbon is called alheira, and it’s a delicious Portuguese sausage that you simply must try. The ingredients in alheira vary, but curiously, pork is not usually included. Alheira comes from a Jewish tradition of making sausage that would blend in with the local pork varieties — and therefore not call attention to the fact that the Jewish people were not truly converted (and therefore eating pork). This delicious sausage is often served with french fries and a fried egg. I love it!
A fascinating food to try in Lisbon is feijoada, which is a dish that made its way across the ocean (to Brazil) and back — and is now often known as a Brazilian dish! This is a great example of how Lisbon’s history has affected its current cuisine. And this pork and bean stew is absolutely delicious.
See more: Lisbon tips for how to eat like a local!
What do you think? Have you visited Lisbon? Any must try foods in Lisbon you think I’ve missed?