We’ve been traveling to Lisbon Portugal for years. It’s a beautiful city on the water, with tile-fronted buildings and classic European architecture. It’s also an amazing city to learn all about Portuguese food. We’ve eaten all over the city over the years, constantly exploring new Lisbon restaurants, while consistently returning to some of our favorites. It’s all in the name of research for this Lisbon Food Guide, where we share all our secrets on where and what to eat in Lisbon.
In this Lisbon blog post, we talk about Portuguese cuisine, including the traditional Portuguese foods you must eat in Lisbon. We also share our recommendations for some of the best places to eat in Lisbon, with a focus on traditional foods. Although we also share some spots that offer more contemporary Portuguese cuisine as well.
Traveling to Portugal? Learn more in our comprehensive Portugal Food and Travel Guide
Lisbon Food Guide
Many of the “ultimate foodies’ guides to Lisbon” that I’ve seen cover what to eat or where to eat. Here, we will cover it all, what and where, eat and drink, traditional and contemporary. If you are looking for something super particular about eating out in Lisbon, use the table of contents above to find your answer. I hope we can answer all of the questions you have about Lisbon’s cuisine.
Where to Stay in Lisbon
During this last visit, we rented an apartment through Booking.com. We’ve been doing that a lot more recently, particularly when visiting a location for a week or more. In Lisbon, this is the apartment we rented this trip. It helps keep us in our routine and helps us to experience a city more like a local.
We also have the following recommendations for hotels in Lisbon from prior visits.
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisboa: You can’t go wrong with the Four Seasons brand. They are in a great location, at the north end of Avenida de Liberdade and have a rooftop running track. Some rooms offer balconies with views over the city. Their lobby bar makes some of the best gin tonics in Lisbon too. | Room rates from €450 | Check the best prices here.
Porto Bay Hotel Liberdade: A lovely boutique hotel in the center of Lisbon with light and airy decor. Their Bistro 4 restaurant focuses on cuisine from across the country and the Aviation bar offers fab cocktails. The hotel is just off Avenida Liberdade in a quiet residential neighborhood | Room rates from €140 | Check the best prices here.
Valverde Hotel Lisbon: Located directly on Avenida de Liberdade the Valverde is a contemporary boutique hotel with an attention to detail. Check out their outdoor patio, where they can arrange afternoon tea during nice weather. | Room rates from €160 | Check the best prices here.
Check the best prices for Lisbon hotels and apartments here.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Foodies Guide To Lisbon
Lisbon is one of our favorite foodie destinations. Although the city is becoming a lot more popular with tourists, particularly for Europeans looking for a city break, there is still so much authenticity in the cuisine. Some of our favorite food memories took place in Lisbon. This is why we travel there so much.
This increased popularity, though, is why it’s important to do your research before arriving in Lisbon. There are a lot of uber-touristy restaurants in the center of Lisbon. Some of them might be pretty good. Others are real tourist traps offering dishes that are more Spanish than Portuguese (think paella and sangria) to attract tourists that don’t know any better. We don’t want that to happen to you. In this Foodies Guide to Lisbon, we will share a few recommendations on where to eat in some of the tourist hot spots so you won’t fall prey to the traps.
Check out our other posts about Portuguese cuisine and gastronomy:
11 Dishes That Are Must Eat In Lisbon
Before we share our recommendations for some of the best restaurants in Lisbon, let’s run through some of the must-eat dishes in Lisbon. Some of these may be considered famous Portuguese food or dishes. Others may not be very well known outside of Portugal. Here’s our list of what to eat in Lisbon. And, no, we couldn’t stop at a top 10 list!
When it comes to the best cheap eats in Lisbon, the bifana sandwich has to be some of the best food in Lisbon. A seemingly simple sandwich of seasoned and marinated pork loin on a soft roll served with mustard and spicy chili oil. They can be found at bars and cafes throughout the city. They are one of our favorite things to eat in Lisbon. Sometimes we eat one (or more) in a day. The perfect bifana should be tender and flavorful and served on a fresh, soft roll. Expect to eat it standing up at one of the many Lisbon bars, and wash it down with a cold beer or a fresh glass of vinho verde, the famous Portuguese “green wine.”
Learn where to find the best bifana in Lisbon here. Bifanas in Lisbon normally cost around €2.
Another Portuguese sandwich option, which can normally be found at the same bars where bifanas are on the menu. It’s a piece of beef steak, grilled with garlic and served on a soft bun, normally with mustard. I prefer the bifana over the prego. That said, whenever we eat at Cervejaria Ramiro, our favorite seafood restaurant in Lisbon, we end our meal with a prego for dessert, as is customary. Yes, a steak sandwich for dessert.
Garlic Shrimp – Gambas a la Guillo
One of the more common dishes at seafood restaurants in all of Portugal, and even in Spain, is garlic shrimp. They generally come to the table sizzling in olive oil and garlic. The Portuguese version includes a little bit of chili pepper and the garlicky oil is perfect for sopping up with fresh, warm bread.
Where to eat Gambas a la Guillo in Lisbon: You can find this dish practically everywhere, normally for around €8-10. In our opinion, the best are at Cervejaria Ramiro Lisbon.
If one dish could be considered the national dish of Portugal, it could be Bacalhau. A salted codfish, bacalhau is popular across the Iberian peninsula. It can be served in a variety of ways, including as a simply sauteed fish. Bacalhau is most commonly eaten in Lisbon fried in a croquetta or served cold in a salad, often on top of garbanzo beans. This is one of the easiest dishes to find on the menus at many places to eat in Lisbon. Another way to eat bacalhau in Lisbon is bacalhau a bras, which pan-fries the salted codfish with shredded potatoes and scrambled eggs.
Caldo Verde Lisbon
Caldo verde is not a very photogenic soup, nor does it have a strong flavor. It is not one of the dishes I often seek out when eating in Lisbon. In my opinion, it is not one of the best Portuguese dishes. That said, every time I eat this soup I end up liking it more and more with each spoonful. It’s like comfort food. The base of the soup is potato and a leafy green vegetable like kale. A bowl of caldo verde normally costs €3-4.
Alheira – Portuguese Sausage
Alheira is a smoked sausage with a bread filling, making it softer than traditional sausage. Although probably more popular in the north of Portugal, if you see it on a Lisbon menu, order it! It’s one of my favorite things to eat in Portugal. It is often served with some vegetables or cabbage, potatoes, and a fried egg.
Chicken Piri Piri
This is probably one of the most famous Portuguese dishes, even if people don’t recognize it as being Portuguese. The popularity of Nando’s chicken around the world has made this grilled or rotisserie chicken famous. It’s a Portuguese dish with African roots, with seasoning coming from Mozambique and Angola. The chicken is served with a piri piri, or a spicy hot sauce. The hot sauce can be HOT! Be prepared. Chickens are generally around €7 for a half chicken and €14 for a full chicken. A half chicken is a healthy portion for one person. Check out a Piri Piri chicken recipe here and try making some of the best food in Portugal at home.
Where to eat chicken piri piri in Lisbon: We ate a fabulously tender and smokey grilled version from Frangasqueira Nacional in Principe Real. Frangasqueira Nacional is more a takeaway option, although there are two tiny tables inside. Or, there is Bonjardim, which is a good option for reliable food in the uber-touristy Restauradores neighborhood. Bonjardim specializes in rotisserie style chicken piri piri, with a simple menu of chicken and side dishes. They may try to place a plate of croquettas on the table. They are not free, but if you don’t want them just say no and they won’t charge you. Sorry about the bad photo above, it was taken at night, outdoors, with our friends and their dog. The chicken tasted a lot better than the photo implies.
I love eating sardines in Europe. We eat them a lot at some of the restaurants in Girona, where we live in Spain. Sardines are one of the must-eat Portugal dishes. They are normally served as a starter during dinner in Portugal or as a snack, called petiscos in Lisbon. Here, they were topped with roasted peppers, coriander, and a little too much red onion for my liking, but the sardines themselves were tender, juicy, and sweet. And, sardines are a pretty healthy dish too.
This is probably the most typical Portuguese food and doesn’t always find its way onto a list of what to eat in Portugal. It’s a working man’s meal and very traditional for sure. The base of the dish is cabbage, white beans, and rice, topped with a meat-heavy stew. The stew normally includes sausage, black sausage, and various pork bits, including offal, or the organs of the pig. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth it to try at least once in Lisbon. You can find cozido at many Lisbon bars as a plate of the day, normally for around €6-7 a plate. We ate this version at a nondescript bar in Principe Real on our first day in Lisbon.
Many of the most traditional Portuguese dishes incorporate pork in some way. But one dish makes pork the main feature. Leitão is a suckling pig, normally served as a sandwich or as a platter of tasty pork goodness. Suckling pig means a young pig, and when basted and roasted until the skin crisps is a treat no traveler to Lisbon should miss. It’s a little difficult to find good leitão in the Lisbon city center because it is a little difficult to prepare.
Where to eat leitão in Lisbon: We ate this version at Henrique Sá Pessoa’s stall at Time Out market. We eat this sandwich almost every time we are in Lisbon. It’s pricey, at €14, but totally worth it. We also ate a more simple version at half the price at a typical Lisbon bar along with the cozido above. There the plate included a few strips of the pork belly of the leitão along with fries.
Pastel de Nata
Did I save the best for last? Why not finish by answering the question: What is Lisbon famous for? If travelers to Lisbon only had one hour to eat (the horror) I would recommend a pastel de nata to be one of the foods they would have to eat. Pasteis de nata are custard filled pastry tarts and are one of my favorite things to eat in Lisbon. It’s not only a perfect pastry as the best breakfast in Lisbon, but they make perfect snacks throughout the day too. A pastel de nata normally costs about €1.
Check out our Lisbon Food and Travel Guide Video:
Book one of these Lisbon Food Tours to learn more about Portuguese food and drink:
Where To Eat In Lisbon
There are so many great places to eat in Lisbon. Obviously, you can search out the best restaurants in Lisbon on Yelp and find recommendations for more contemporary cuisine and Michelin Star restaurants. We’ve also made mention of a few places above that are known for particular dishes. Here, I will recommend a couple more places to go for consistently good food with a focus on traditional Portuguese dishes. Most of these are also located in the city center, where many travelers end up, so they are good options for reliable cuisine.
A note about Lisbon neighborhoods. The low-lying area close to the water near Praca do Comercio is referred to as Baixa (meaning low in Portuguese). To the east is the Alfama district, known for Fado music. To the west of Baixa is Bairro Alto and Chiado, home to a raucous bar scene at night. To the north of Baixa is the Restauradores Metro and the area to the east of Avenida de la Libertad, which has loads of restaurants, many of them touristy.
O Cantinho Do Bem Estar – Bairro Alto and Chiado
We return to this restaurant in Lisbon whenever we can for one dish in particular, their famous house-recipe prawns. Giant prawns in a garlic, mustard, and lemon sauce that is to-die-for. I dream about this dish. Other fishes at O Cantinho do Bem Estar are good as well, with a mix of fish, seafood, and meats, but the prawns are the star. Everything is portioned to share or could be considered family-style. Some of the dishes can be ordered as half portions, so feel free to ask. We ordered 2 1/2 dishes for three people and didn’t come close to finishing what we order. When looking at the menu, the dishes seem a little pricey but are very good value for the size.
O Cantinho do Bem Estar is on R. do Norte 46 just up from Praça Luís de Camões. They are open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. The restaurant is super small, so try to get there when they open or be prepared to wait. They are cash only.
O Martinho da Arcada e Lisboa – Baixa
I was curious about O Martinho da Arcada. It came recommended by some friends, but it is in the center of the most-touristed area of town. They have a large dining room with white tablecloths. They offer a full menu as well as plates of the day during the week. We went local and ate in the tiny bar in the front with the rest of the locals. There, they served mini plates of the day for only around €6-7 a plate. This is a great way to try some traditional Portuguese cuisine at a low price. They had some of the most amazing alheira, a Portuguese sausage. The dishes were not photogenic, which is why I don’t have a photo. But, they were tasty. They also have plenty of outdoor seating.
O Martinho da Arcada e Lisbon is on Praça do Comércio 3 and is a good option for tourists who find themselves in the center of town. They are open all day six days a week but close on Sunday
Restaurante Vicente by Carnalentejana – Baixa
We first visited Vicente because it is owned by the family of a Portuguese winemaking friend. The family owns cattle in Alentejo, so they opened Vicente to feature local Alentejo beef. If you like steak, this is a must visit restaurant in Lisbon. The restaurant itself is lovely, with exposed stone and romantic lighting. The meat is cooked to perfection. And, they focus on local Alentejo wines including Torre do Frade.
Restaurante Vicente by Carnalentejana is on Rua das Flores 6, about halfway between the Time Out Market and Praça Luís de Camões. They are open all day, six days a week. They are closed on Sunday.
Jesus é Goês Lisbon – Restauradores
Although in the past we often took our restaurant recommendations from the late Anthony Bourdain, this was the first time visiting a restaurant suggested by Phil Rosenthal from Somebody Feed Phil. Phil visited Jesus é Goês, a Goan restaurant in central Lisbon. We never ate Goan food in Lisbon before, so figured we would give it a shot. Order the shrimp samosas and try the Sarapatel, the diced spice pork, and the Xacuti de Cabrito, goatling with 11 spices. It’s a small spot, but bright and cheerful. The food well prepared and a little spicy, just how we like it.
Jesus é Goês is located at R. São José 23, just up from Restauradores. They are open for lunch and dinner six days a week and close on Sunday. Entrees range from €14-20. They are cash only. My only real complaint? The restaurant only offered tiny bottles of water, which just doesn’t seem right for the environment.
Check more recommendations for restaurants in Lisbon Portugal – Check out the Top Tripadvisor Lisbon Restaurants
Michelin Star Restaurants Lisbon
Unlike larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, the city is a little light when it comes to Michelin restaurants in Lisbon. There are 31 restaurants in the 2019 Michelin Guide Lisbon, representing some of the best restaurants in Lisbon. Most of these are Michelin recommended. Loco and Eleven, which are both located in the city, each have one star, along with Feitoria, which is closer to Belem in the west.
Restaurant Alma Lisbon: With two Michelin stars, Chef Henrique Sa Pessoa’s Alma prepares an a la carte menu and two tasting menus, which start at €110. There is a focus on both traditional Portuguese cuisine with Asian influences. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner six days a week, they are closed on Monday. Chef Henrique also has a location at the Time Out Market.
Belcanto Lisbon: With two Michelin stars, Chef José Avillez offers an a la carte menu and two tasting menus ranging from €165-185. The original Belcanto opened in 1958, but Chef Avillez took it over in 2012 to breathe new life into the historic space. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner five days a week, they are closed on Monday and Tuesday. Reservations are required as there are only 10 tables in the restaurant. Chef Avillez oversees a veritable empire of Lisbon restaurants. That said I had one friend eat at one of his restaurants and was not thrilled. A local friend also didn’t recommend any of his restaurants. I am not sure why.
Time Out Lisbon – The Lisbon Food Market
There are a handful of food markets in Lisbon, but one stands above the rest, particularly for travelers. We visited the Time Out Market shortly after it opened and ended up eating there quite a bit over the years. Initially, the Mercado da Ribeira was the largest fresh food market in Lisbon. Although about half of the market still remains dedicated to meat, seafood, and produce stalls, the remainder is now a large food hall with all things food and drink. Opened in 2014, it was the first of its kind. Time Out is working on other similar markets in cities like Boston, Chicago, and Montreal.
So, why do we keep returning to the Time Out Market? A few reasons. First, it’s like a giant Lisbon food court, but unlike any food court I grew up with at malls of New Jersey. Some of the top restaurants in Lisbon have locations in the market. Second, it’s open all day, and for travelers this is big. One of our visits to Lisbon a few years ago was in August, a bad move on our part. Many of the most traditional restaurants in the city close down for several weeks or even a month. Time Out was our go to when we had a hard time finding anywhere else to go. It also works well on Sundays for the same reason. But, in the end, so much of the food there is just so darn good. I will say that during this last visit I felt that the prices increased considerably since our last visit. Many of the main dishes hover around €15, but the quality is high.
Time Out Market Lisboa
Time Out Market is open seven days a week from 10 am-midnight, and until 2 am on the weekends. The market also organizes concerts and events, and there is a cooking academy on site. It’s located at Avenida 24 de Julho, 49 at the Mercado da Ribeira. The closest Lisbon metro is Cais de Sodre.
Time Out Lisbon Pro Tip: Avoid Saturdays when the market is the busiest. Pick a spot to sit and then order your food and drink. Many places offer buzzers to know when to pick up your food. If going with friends, try splitting a handful of dishes, to share costs, but also to try more flavors.
Learn everything you need to know about the market on Tripadvisor Lisbon.
Learn more about the Time Out Market Lisbon:
What And Where To Drink In Lisbon
There is no shortage of places to drink in Lisbon, that’s for sure. In fact, there are many Brits who travel to Lisbon on the weekends for hen and stag parties, particularly focused on the bars in Bairro Alto. But, there are a handful of drinks you should track down in Lisbon and here are a few recommendations on where to try them.
Portugal has great wines. The most famous is probably vinho verde, the crisp green wine from the Minho region in the north. When in doubt, order a vinho verde and you will not be disappointed. Many bars even have a cheap version on tap, yes, on tap, for less than €2. Other than vinho verde and port wine, most Portuguese wines are blends of loads of different grapes, many of which I’ve never heard of. It’s hard to order wine by the grape. Instead, try a region, like the Douro or Alentejo. Generally, wines from the Douro tend to be more expensive.
If looking for something a little more than green wine from the tap, or to focus on tasting wines from Alentejo or the Douro, try By The Wine, on Rua das Flores. Although more a restaurant than a wine bar, there is plenty of seating at the bar to taste wines from all over Portugal. If in Bairro Alto and you are looking for an alternative to all the cheesy bars offering €1 tequila shots, try BacoAlto Loja Gourmet. We stumbled upon this little wine shop that offers a handful of tables and an impressive collection of Portuguese wines by the bottle or by the glass. They also serve cheese and cured meat platters.
It’s also super easy to drink port wine in Lisbon. For a good way to try it, order a glass when having a pastel de nata. It’s a nice little treat. One of the more trendy drinks now in Lisbon is a port and tonic, normally served with white port.
Ginja is a sweet cherry liquor that is popular in Lisbon. It is served in a small shot glass, normally with a liquored-up cherry or two in the bottom. The most popular places for ginja is at a ginjinha, or a ginja bar. There are two traditional places, that are nothing more than a door, a countertop, and ginja, close to Restauradores. Try Ginjinha Sem Rival or A Ginjinha, which are steps from each other. Try them both in a single visit. Watch your bags in this area. And, chances are you will be offered drugs as well. It’s all part of the experience. Order your ginja and move on.
Just a few blocks away is Ginginha de Carmo, at the base of the steps leading to Bairro Alto. I actually liked their ginja better. It tasted more like a liqueur than a liquor, a little more refined. It’s a great stop for a little fortification before climbing the hills and steps up into the neighborhood.
I enjoy ginja. But, be careful, it packs a little bit of a punch in such a small glass. It’s deceptive. Generally, a glass of ginja will cost between €1.75-2 a glass.
The most common beer brands in Lisbon are Sagres and Super Bock. You can find these at every bar and restaurant in Lisbon, with small glasses costing about €1. But, there are a handful of craft beer bars and brewers in Lisbon for travelers looking for a little more flavor from their beer. We wrote an entire guide to Lisbon Craft Beer, so check it out.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Pin It! Portuguese Food Guide To Lisbon Portugal
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.