Gastronomic specialities in Lisbon: what to eat in Lisbon?

Spécialité Lisbonne, Pasteis de Nata

Cod, sardines, pastéis de nata… Here’s our selection of Lisbon specialities to try during your stay!

If you’re wondering what to eat in Lisbon, you should know that Lisbon’s specialty is undoubtedly cod: in the capital, you’ll find it in fritters, as a dish, in the oven… But your stay in Lisbon should also introduce you to other classics of Portuguese cuisine, enjoyed throughout the country!

Cod and sardines, stars of the Lisbon plate

There’s a Portuguese saying that there are as many cod recipes as there are days in the year… That’s hardly an exaggeration: the little salted fish is undoubtedly the star of Lisbon cuisine. One of the most popular recipes is bacalhau à brás, in which the cod is cut into small strands and mixed with strips of onion, fine French fries, eggs and olives. It can also be eaten in fritters(pastéis de bacalhau), or in olive oil(bacalhau a lagareiro).

Another Lisbon specialty: sardinhas assadas (barbecued sardines). This is a Lisbon specialty eaten on the go at local festivals, among neighbors, family or friends. You can also buy canned sardines and take them home in your luggage… As a souvenir, it’s hard to beat typical Lisbon!

Pasteis de bacalhau, spécialité de Lisbonne

Pasteis de bacalhau – Photo credit: Flickr – Kirk K

Pastel de nata, Lisbon’s speciality

Lisbon is paradise for pastéis de nata, those little pastry flans that everyone craves. Served warm with cinnamon, they’re so delicious! The most famous are the Pastéis de Bélem, served only in the café of the same name. But they have to be earned: sometimes, you’ll have to wait hours for one…

Lisbon drinks: Sagres beer, vinho verde and ginjinha

Sagres beer is so widespread in the capital that it’s nicknamed « Lisbon’s beer ». Blond and light, it’s refreshing – without being exceptional. In the wine department, try vinho verde. So-called because it’s made from young grapes, it’s usually white, but can also be red or rosé. Fresh, fruity and sparkling, it goes very well with seafood… hence its ubiquity in Lisbon!

Above all, don’t miss the chance to taste ginjinha (or ginja), the cherry liqueur, in a bar, famous as much for its sweet taste as for the little ritual that accompanies it. Order com elas (« with them », meaning « with cherries ») or sem elas (without cherries). Beware: with its almost 20% alcohol content, ginjinha is a real trap!

Some Portuguese specialities to try in Lisbon

Looking for a break between cod dishes? Take advantage of the diversity of the capital’s restaurants to sample Portuguese specialties: often seafood-based (but not exclusively), the dishes are clearly Mediterranean-influenced, but always enhanced by a touch of exotic spices, inherited from Portugal’s colonial past.

As an aperitif, nibble on petiscos, the Portuguese tapas. Follow with an octopus dish, such as polvo à lagareiro (baked octopus with potatoes). Try alsoarroz de marisco (rice with shellfish), caldo verde (the national soup, mainly made with kale and chouriço, the Portuguese sausage), oraçorda, a soup with garlic bread and egg, eaten in Lisbon with seafood(açorda de marisco). For dessert, those with a sweet tooth will opt forarroz doce (rice pudding sprinkled with cinnamon), while cheese fans are bound to tryazeitão, a sheep’s milk cheese produced south of the Tagus.

And what gastronomic specialities have you eaten in Lisbon?

Main Photo Credit: Flickr – Jose Luis Hidalgo R.