From its beautiful beaches and cobbled streets to the ice-cream colour-inspired buildings, Lisbon has been dubbed Europe’s “new culinary capital”.
In fact, this city which was once considered a remote outpost a few centuries ago, thought to be out of bounds for the common man, has established itself not only as a ‘Foodie Hotspot of the year’ according to National Geographic Traveller UK, but also as a hotspot for Portuguese cultural exploration and Portugal property investments.
Príncipe Real, Bairro Alto, Chiado and Baixa are just some of the alluring neighborhoods that travelers love visiting in Portugal’s historic city. Apart from taking in the Tagus River’s breathtaking beauty or the majestic-looking vintage squares, sitting down for a bite is all part of the unique and almost magical travel experience in Portugal.
If Lisbon is on your travel itinerary, you absolutely cannot miss these top ten foods:
1. Frango Assado, aka. Roast Chicken
Many say Frango Assado is not only Portugal’s no.1 fast food but also the original Nando’s. Typically marinated in olive oil, garlic, piri-piri chillies, lemon, salt and perhaps a secret ingredient or two the chef doesn’t want to disclose – the chicken is served with plain rice, fries and a basic salad.
Many swear that the ‘delight factor’ comes as a direct result of the cooking time while others believe it’s the marinade. You be the judge.
2. Bacalhau à Brás
Bacalhau à Brás is what the Portuguese refer to as ‘pure comfort food’ for the weekend. The mouth-watering blend is made with diced and boiled salt cod, fried onions, potato skin, olives and eggs. This incredibly satisfying and satiating dish is popular all over the nation, thanks to its lovely blend of textures and flavors.
3. Caldo Verde
If you’re in a mood for a traditional soup, then there’s no better option than Caldo Verde, a dish which is also traditionally served in Portuguese homes. At the base, you’ll find an appetizing mix of kale and potatoes, all finished with a generous amount of salt, olive oil and chorizo.
Referred to as Morello cherry liquer by the locals, Ginjinha is a sour cherry of sorts. As one might imagine, it’s served in small shot glasses or in an edible chocolate glass. The locals’ love for sipping in Ginjunha dates back to over a century – with everyone having their own designated spot for enjoying it.
It’s no surprise at all that fish is among the most loved and commonly featured item in Lisbon’s cuisine, with Portugal sitting atop the Atlantic Ocean and all. Sardines are an absolute delight in the summer season – often called the ‘queens of Portuguese summer’, especially when the St. Anthony Festival in June is in full swing.
These tantalizing grilled sardines are typically served in busy and sociable places, enjoyed with some wine and freshly baked bread.
6. Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato
Like many other Portuguese cuisine classics, this dish is bathed in olive oil and garlic, accompanied by the vitalizing aroma of coriander and that unmistakable seafood flavour. The clams are smothered with lemon, shellfish meat and parsley, and enjoyed with crunchy toasted bread.
7. Polvo à Lagareiro
Don’t let Polvo à Lagareiro’s simplicity catch you off-guard because this grilled octopus dish drizzled with lots of olive oil and served with garlicky potatoes is anything but simple for the taste buds!
8. Pastéis de Nata
The sweet tarts are served in flaky cups full of creamy custard scoops and puff pastry, with a little cinnamon sprinkled on top. Even though it is best eaten when warm, it’s just as delicious if served at room temperature or straight out of the refrigerator.
The secret to finding the perfect Pastéis de Nata? The custard filling should have a nice ‘wobble’ to it.
Bifanas look relatively simple at first glance – in fact, at a distance, one might mistake them for an ordinary-looking hamburger. However, look closer and you’ll find thin and juicy slices of pork between the bread, marinated with spices, white wine and garlic, and topped off with chilli sauce or ketchup and mustard.
The best way to enjoy bifana is with some fresh beer.
10. Travesseiros de Sintra
During your Lisbon travels, make it a point to visit the Sintra Mountains and try the sweet treats that the locals like to call Travesseiros de Sintra. Travesseiro in Portuguese means pillow and is quite befitting for this sweet and sugary delight as the packed and chubby puff-pastry filled with rich egg and almond cream is sure to whet the appetite of any desert lover.