Portuguese Eats

If you like food, and good food at that, Lisbon will not disappoint.  I love trying new food when traveling, and some of my favorite dishes are those that I’ve tried on my international travels.  (Ecuador’s jugo de mora, Peru’s lomo saltado, or England’s Sunday Lunch, anyone?!?)  I will try anything that wasn’t once a living animal, but pretty much the only meats that I eat are chicken, turkey, pork, and beef, and I don’t go anywhere near seafood.  For some reason I feel too bad for those little guys swimming under the sea to eat them.  I know, pigs and cows are much cuter and it makes no rational sense whatsoever.  All I can say is that bacon is delicious and I just can’t help myself sometimes.  All of my food recommendations will obviously also subscribe to that illogical logic.  I think we managed to eat some pretty delicious food while in Lisbon, anyway, even if they do specialize in seafood.


Very close to the Mosterio dos Jerónimos, which we visited on our first day in Lisbon, is Pastéis de Belem, which many say has the best pastel de nata in Lisbon.  Naturally, we headed over to the pastelaria for a late morning snack to try a few ourselves.  The pastel de nata is an egg tart pastry topped with cinnamon and icing sugar, which gives an effect and taste much like the top of creme brulee (read: delicious).  I’ve since had them at a few other places, namely, at the Borough Market in London, and I can’t lie, the Pastéis de Belem was the best.  They sell so quickly that it’s nearly impossible not to get a fresh, warm one, which makes a huge difference.


About  to enjoy a delicious pastel de nata

If you’re in the market for a place to sit, relax, and people watch for a while, the Mercado da Ribera is the place to be.  It’s great for lunch, a very casual dinner, or a snack and a beer anytime.  It, like most things in Lisbon, has been around a long time (aka the 13th century).  It used to be Europe’s most famous fish market, and still holds a more traditional food market, but since 2010 has also had a market featuring some of the city’s favorite food stores and restaurants.


Traditional Part of the Mercado da Ribera


One of  the Kiosks

There are a total of 35 kiosks (read: lots of options for picky eaters).  It’s definitely worth a visit while in Lisbon.  The selections are a bit overwhelming, however, and we ended up at a place that wasn’t my favorite.  I definitely had food envy of people around us, though, so do your research about what’s good before you go.  We didn’t and I wish that we had.  We didn’t eat lunch at the market, but the husband had a beer, and we snacked on some bread and cheese before heading to our actual (late) lunch stop.

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Looks better than it tasted

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Such a cool spot

Given our new obsession with Nando’s and piri piri chicken, we had to try some authentic piri piri for ourselves while in Portugal (yes, I realize that Nando’s is South African).  Roughly 2 hours of time went into finding the best place for piri piri chicken in Lisbon, and my researched landed me right where I started, Bon Jardim.  If you’re looking for luxury, this is not your place.  It’s no frills and the decor is a little worn, but it’s filled with locals and delicious food…in my opinion, it’s the best kind of place to eat.  Our favorite way to eat piri piri chicken is on a sandwich; you can’t order sandwiches there, but all the meals come with rolls and a delicious spreadable cheese, so we made our own.  Luckily, it’s the sort of place where making  your own sandwich at the table is totally okay.  Honestly, though, even if it weren’t, I’m pretty sure I would have done it anyway.  If you’re not a vegetarian, you really must go to Bon Jardim next time you are in Lisbon.  The food, and the empty fish tank that is one of the front windows of the restaurant, will not disappoint.  Sadly, I did not snap a photo of the fish tank, but I assure you, it’s there.

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I’d do anything for one of these sandwiches right now


Making his sandwich


All smiles and ready to eat!

When we travel, we never go for expensive restaurants.  We prefer to try smaller, family owned, local spots and avoid the super swanky places, especially for dinner.  For our only dinner in Lisbon, we found the perfect place that fit the bill.  There was a long wait outside the Taberna da Rua Das Flores, even though we’d arrived early.  We were in no hurry, and they let us wander the streets around the restaurant while we waited.  The place was super cute and quaint, and we were confident that a great meal was to come when an expat we met while waiting outside assured it that it’s the best place in Lisbon.  His only regret was that it was starting to become very popular, which meant frequent waits for a table.  One of the tables was actually on a small set of stairs going nowhere, with a wine box as a table.  I really wanted to eat there, the husband did not.  He won (it was available to sit at without a wait when we arrived).


Taberna da rua das Flores

We ordered tapas style foods, and shared everything.  Lisbon is filled with seafood, and at least 50% of the dishes were fish, which really limited our choices.  Nevertheless, the food was delicious and reasonably priced.  Better yet, I washed it all down with some delicious Vinho Verde.  Don’t skip dessert- I don’t eat it usually, but the chocolate cake can’t be missed.


So excited to eat the amazing chocolate cake

It’s a tradition for the husband and me to eat a burger in every city we visit.  I have a strict no american food policy while traveling, but this is the one exception that I make.  We do a lot of research on the best burger places, as we only have one shot to get it right in each city.  The husband is usually the researcher, and I’m not going to lie, he knocked it out of the park on this one.  It just may be my favorite burger I’ve ever eaten.  That’s not a statement I make lightly, and I’ve eaten a lot of burgers in my lifetime.


The very cute  Hamburgueria do Bairro

While google maps rarely disappoints, it led us astray on our walk to Hamburgueria do Bairro and I was a bit of a brat (I was hangry), complaining every 5 steps about how he got us lost, and that I was so hungry I was going to eat my arm.  Luckily, the husband ignored me and forced me to keep walking rather than ditch our plans and grab the first thing we saw that qualified as food.


Probably smiling mostly because our food had arrived which had meant I had stopped complaining about how hungry I was

Located in a less touristy, more neighborhood-y area of Lisbon, the Hamburgueria do Bairro was packed, and the only people out in the streets surrounding the restaurant were those waiting to eat.  We both had our usual- burger with cheese and onion, the simpler the better.  Why ruin a good thing with too many toppings?  The burger was delicious, as were the fries and aioli on the side.  I love aioli so much I could drink it, and this was one of the best.


Ready to eat- make sure you try a Brisa next time you’re in Portugal.  So Good

We were totally called out for our burger eating ways when the Swedish travelers next to us laughed when they realized that we were from the US.  They told us that they always thought that the idea that all americans love burgers was just a stereotype, but since we were americans eating burgers in Lisbon, it must be true.  Isn’t that just how stereotypes start- thinking that, because a few people from a certain culture do something, that means all of them do?


A closeup of the fries and aioli in case you weren’t hungry enough after reading the rest of this post

After a lovely weekend in Lisbon our bellies were full and we were ready to head back to London.  My stomach is growling just thinking of the delicious food we ate.  If you’re ever in Libson, make sure to hit up at least a few of these spots and wash down the delicious food with some Vinho Verde.  I promise you won’t regret it.