Don’t Visit Lisbon Without Trying These Dishes!
Portuguese food is about simplicity. Fresh, seasonal ingredients served with the minimum of fuss. Take the seafood as an example. After bringing in the day’s catch, it’s often steamed or grilled and doused in a little olive oil and garlic. That’s it. Here’s 7 dishes you can’t leave Lisbon without trying.
There is nothing quite as simple as the bifana, the ultimate fast food and booze mob. Slices of pork slowly cooked in wine and their own juices are generously packed into a soft Portuguese roll and smothered with American yellow mustard and spicy peri-peri oil. It’s best eaten paired with a cold bottle of Portuguese beer. One of the best places to eat bifanas is O Trevo café in the centre of the city.
Bulhão Pato Clams
This delicious clam dish is named after the 19th century Portuguese poet Bulhão Pato. Clams are simply steamed with white wine, olive oil garlic and coriander and mopped up with crusty Portuguese bread. Be sure to accompany it with a cold glass of vinho verde. Popular throughout the city, there are plenty of restaurants to find these clams, but locals head to Casa da Índia restaurant.
Pasteis de Nata
Portugal is renowned for its custard tarts and the undisputed king comes from the Pastéis de Belém. This large tile-clad café in this historic district of Belem throngs with tourists and locals alike who come to taste the world’s best custard tarts. Throughout the day trays of Pastel de nata are taken out of the ovens and sprinkled with a powdered sugar and cinnamon. Best eaten warm and accompanied with a bica, a short Portuguese black coffee similar to an espresso.
Nowhere does tinned fish like the Portuguese. There are over a hundred varieties available – smoked octopus, squid in ink, mackerel in olive oil or spicy tomato are fish eggs are all encased in their metal containers. Conserveira de Lisboa is a lovely old grocery store in the centre that’s been selling tins since WW2. Alternatively, head down to Sol y Pesca, part fishing shop part bar, with an extensive menu of canned seafood.
Portugal has had a love affair with bacalhau for centuries. The dried and salted cod is used in countless Portuguese recipes from stews to bar snacks. It’s said that there is a Portuguese bacalhau dish for every day of the year, but in reality there are probably many more. Interestingly, though the Portuguese eat bacalhau with gusto, cod isn’t found in the country’s waters and is caught in the North Sea. Pasteis de bacalhau (fried cod croquettes) are delicious and found in bars throughout the capital.
This warming and hearty Portuguese broth contains nothing more than potatoes, garlic, thinly sliced kale and water or stock. Once a cheap and nutritious dish eaten in harder times past, it’s now enjoyed by the masses. Sometimes, ingredients such as chourico sausage are added for a more luxurious dish. O Páteo de Alfama serves up an excellent version accompanied by the soulful sounds of fado music.
Piri Piri Chicken
There is nothing more satisfying than piri piri chicken. Brought over from Mozambique during Portugal’s colonial past, the dish has become a firm favourite throughout the country. Whole chickens are spatchcocked, grilled over huge braziers which imparts a smoky flavor and rubbed with piri piri oil. Head down to Bomjardim, a simple restaurant where huge silver platters of piri piri chicken are served with crispy fries and side salads.