When we first met the bifana, during our first trip to Lisbon in 2012, I wrote an entire post dedicated to the famous Portuguese sandwich. At the time, I wrote that I couldn’t believe I dedicated over 600 words to a sandwich, but of course, it wasn’t any sandwich, it was the Portuguese bifanas.
Of course, since that time, I’ve dedicated multiple posts to a single dish, and even a single sandwich, like the Macau pork chop bun, a relative of the bifana. The question then is, what is a bifana sandwich, and why is it so darn good? Here we talk about how to find the best bifana in Lisbon, Portugal.
The Lisbon Pork Sandwich – Bifana in Lisbon
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
What is a Bifana Lisbon – The Portuguese Sandwich
There are three very important Portuguese sandwiches that people must try when traveling in Portugal. Two of them are the prego steak sandwich and the leitao, which is a suckling pig sandwich. Both are great. But, the Bifana Lisboa is an institution.
The bifana seems simple, a few slices of pork on a Portuguese roll. But, there is so much more to it than that. It’s a cheap, humble, almost working man sandwich, often served with a beer. The Portuguese pork is sautéed in garlic and seasoning until tender. The meat is served on a Portuguese roll so that the oil and seasonings soak in. Then, it is served with mustard and chili oil. I hate to say that an entire dish comes down to only one thing, but here it’s the seasoning. No, wait, it’s the quality of the pork. No, wait, it’s the freshness of the bread. Yes, just a few ingredients but so great.
So simple, and so tasty. It, of course, requires a story.
Our First Experience With the Bifana – O Trevo Lisbon
When we arrived in Lisbon that first visit, our foodie friend, Chrissie, emailed us some food suggestions. She reminded us that Anthony Bourdain was in Lisbon for No Reservations and that he went to a place called O Trevo. Tony ate the Portuguese version of a Portuguese pork sandwich, with mustard and chili oil – a bifana. We figured this might be a Bourdain experience within our budget, so we found O Trevo our first day in Lisbon. It did not disappoint.
At first, we were slightly intimidated. The place was busy, with a buzz to it. Plenty of patrons were knocking back coffee, pastries, and soup either at the tables or at the stand-up counter – an institution in Lisbon.
We did not know what to order, but found a server who spoke English enough for us to say “pork sandwich” and “beer.” What greeted us was heaven on a bun, known in Lisbon as a bifana.
The sliced Portuguese roll was fresh, soft, and melt in your mouth delicious. In between the bread were two thin slices of pork that were cooked in oil, which soaked into the bread. As condiments, they provided a bright yellow mustard and a homemade chili infused oil, which drenched the bread and ran down my hands. I did not care.
Each and every bite was accompanied by an involuntary “mmmmm” from my mouth. I felt like Homer Simpson with a donut and drool running down the chin. We washed the bifana down with a beer, or cerveja, and left with our lips feeling a little tingly. As gluttony is our favorite sin, we returned to the scene of the crime multiple times during our visit to Lisbon.
Restaurants and snack bars all over the city serve bifanas. While walking around the Alfama district, on the opposite side of the city from O Trevo, we started to get hungry. We saw places serving bifanas, but ignored the signs in the windows. We continued our walk across the city to return to O Trevo. We figured we had an amazing experience, so we returned, just a little later that same day.
And, the following day.
And, twice on day 3.
And, one last time before heading to the airport on day 4.
Some may call this an obsession with pork, or pork OCD, but each time I ate the bifana, no matter how not hungry I was, that same involuntary food-gasmic moan escaped my lips.
On day 3, after our second bifana, while walking back to our apartment, we walked through a vegan protest – people in all black silently standing in protest – meat is murder. I could not believe the irony. I could still feel the tingle of the chili oil and the flavor of the pork juices on my lips.
I am sorry if this offends any vegetarians, but we all make choices for ourselves on how to live our lives. My life involved 4 days and 6 of the best pork sandwiches I have ever eaten. Simplicity at its finest, with only 4 ingredients. The bifana has made it onto my “death row” menu.
Looking for a bifana recipe and other ways to cook Portuguese food at home? Taste Portugal | 101 easy Portuguese recipes
Where to Eat the Bifana in Portugal – Best Bifana Lisbon
We’ve eaten some of the best bifanas in Lisbon, but they are popular across the country. And, there are some favorite places to eat bifanas in Porto. They are farily similiar to the Lisbon bifana.
Where to Eat Bifana – Porto Food Travel Guide
When returning to Lisbon, we continue to visit O Trevo, but we also found another great bifana sandwich not far away. O Afonson das Bifanas is a true local joint. Tiny, with only about 2 stools, and standing room for a few more people and no one more. They make some of the best bifanas, a little more tender than the Portuguese meat in O Trevo’s bifanas. Their Portuguese marinade is more flavorful. And, overall, we just felt it was a more local experience.
Our recommendations on where to eat the “Bifana Lisboa” – the bifana in Lisbon:
O Trevo Lisbon: Praca Luis de Camoes 48, Lisbon
O Afonson das Bifanas: Rua de Madalena 146, Lisbon
Looking For Great Food and Wine Tours in Portugal?
There are plenty of other delicious Portuguese dishes to eat in Lisbon, and throughout the country. There is bacalhau, or salted cod, and one of our favorites açorda, which is a soup that can be made with seafood (açorda de marisco), or just prawns (açorda de camarão). And, there is even a McDonald’s version of the famous bifana sandwich, which, of course, is called the McBifana! There’s also a Portuguese steak sandwich, known as the prego sandwich, which is served for dessert sometimes, particularly at our favorite seafood restaurant in Lisbon, Cervejaria Ramiro. Yes, there’s so much to eat in Portugal, sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to eat and drink in Portugal.
To help with planning what to eat in Portugal, check out our recommendations for the best Portuguese food tours, cooking classes, and wine tours. With tours from Lisbon and Porto, these tours cover Alentejo, Minho, and everything in between.
|Tour||Duration||City of Departure||Price From||Book It!|
|Wine & Cheese Tasting on a Luxury Sailing Yacht||2.5 Hours||Lisbon||$1000|
|Private Tour of Douro Wineries and Vineyards||10 Hours||Porto||$500|
|Private Wine Lovers Tour||6 Hours||Lisbon||$212|
|Alentejo Food & Wine Tour||8 Hours||Lisbon||$188|
|Douro Valley Grape Harvest - Picking & Tasting||10 Hours||Porto||$148|
|Minho & Vinho Verde Gastronomic Tour & Tasting||11 Hours||Porto||$136|
|Vinho Verde Wine Tour & Lunch||11 Hours||Porto||$112|
|Portuguese Cooking Class, Dinner & Wine||3.5 Hours||Lisbon||$106|
|Porto City Flavors Gastronomy Tour||Flexible||Porto||$91|
|Lisbon Food Tour - Tapas and Wine||3 Hours||Lisbon||$69|
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
For more Portuguese culinary travel inspiration, check out our Portugal food travel guide.
FAQs – Portuguese Sandwich – Bifana
- Bifana vs. Prego: Another popular Portuguese sandwich is the prego, which can be found at Cervejaria Ramiro. The prego is a beef sandwich, also served on a soft white roll.
- Bifana vs. Bifanha: Bifanha is simply the Portuguese word for the bifana sandwich.
- Is the Bifana Portuguese sandwich the best sandwich out there? It’s hard to say, but it’s pretty darn close!
- Where can I find a bifana near me? This is not as easy as finding the bifana sandwich in Lisbon, or elsewhere in Portugal. Portuguese restaurants are not as common as Spanish restaurants around the world. There are a few areas of the world where there are traditional Portuguese restaurants, like in Macau or even Newark, NJ. Otherwise, to eat the “bifanas Lisboa” you might need to travel to Lisbon!
Pin it! Portuguese Bifana Sandwich!
Amber is a recovering attorney, yoga teacher, writer, social media consultant, and eater, traveling With Husband In Tow