There are many reasons that Lisbon, Portugal, is quickly becoming one of Europe's best getaways: rich history, energetic nightlife and a reasonable price tag for starters. It is also the perfect place for visitors to dive deep into Portugal's rich culinary scene. From traditional favorites to international fusion and fine dining, there are a ton of options in this capital city. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect meal.
Lisbon is the perfect place to try traditional Portuguese cuisine from around the country. There are many regional varieties of fresh cheese (queijo), salted cod (bacalhau) and slow cooked meats. Lisbon is near the sea so you can also expect a huge variety of fresh seafood.
Try some classic Portuguese food at an established restaurant like Casa do Bacalhau or Cafe Martinho da Arcada (the oldest cafe in Lisbon). You can also stop at a wine bar or fado club to try some local bar snacks and tapas. Keep an eye out for the simple yet terrific sandwiches like prego no pao.
As a key part of the international spice trade, Portugal imported plenty of food traditions to its own shores. For example there is a huge Indian community in the city, primarily from the former Portuguese colony of Goa. You can find that reflected in the international options available in the city.
Try Delicias de Goa for food from this particular province. The former African colonies are also well represented with restaurants like Ibo Restaurante (Mozambican), Água do Bengo (Angolan) and Mesa Kreol (Cape Verde).
Lisbon's central market was bought by Time Out Magazine and transformed into the food court of your dreams. A total of 35 kiosks serve up traditional and experimental Portuguese food along with staples like sushi and pizza. This is a great place to sample a variety of foods with a reasonable price tag. Along the back wall you will find offerings from five renowned local chefs including Jose Avillez and Henrique Sa Pessoa.
This is also a great place to try ginja, a wild cherry liquor that is popular for sipping.
Portugal has some of the tastiest pastries in the world. There is a tremendous variety of eggy, sugary and buttery goodies, often paired with strong coffee or hot chocolate. For a huge sampling, check out the enormous Confeitaria Nacional near the city center.
If you have the time, it's well worth it to take the bus out to the suburb of Belem and visit Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, the birthplace of Portugal's national pastry, the pasteis de nata. You can try the thick egg yolk custard broiled inside a flaky crust and topped with sugar and cinnamon all over the country, but none are better than here. Get a six-pack and eat them warm in the nearby park.
Know that almost all restaurants will bring out small plates of appetizers like bread and olives at the beginning of your meal. These are not free, so if you don't want them simply refuse them. Tipping is not necessary, but you can leave a euro or two if you like.
Like many southern European countries, the Portuguese adhere to a delayed eating schedule. Most restaurants are closed between the hours of 3 or so until 8, so plan ahead.
What’s your favorite Portuguese-inspired food?
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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