Where to Eat and Drink in Lisbon
Lisbon is a food destination. The city is obsessed with eating and it shows; the streets are lined with pastry shops selling freshly baked delicacies, the best of them nearly always have a line of people waiting for pastel de nata (the infamous custard tarts), Pastéis de Belém is a crowd favourite. The Portuguese are obsessed with eating and there is a saying that we are the only country in the world that always talks about what they’re having for dinner while having lunch. Drinking beer and wine on the esplanade is basically a national hobby, a huge part of Lisbon’s chill appeal.
For the best traditional food at fair prices, head to tascas and tabernas, small restaurants serving daily meals and Portuguese classics like cozido à portuguesa (Portuguese stew) and some of the most delicious cod dishes, like bacalhau à brás. They are super laid back, very noisy and full of life and energy. Go early as they get busy come lunchtime, especially after the closure of so many tascas as a result of rampant rent hikes.
Because of Portugal’s colonial past, you can find a variety of Brazilian and African restaurants serving dishes packed with flavour, but watch out for the jindungo and piri-piri if you can’t take the heat. Tasca do Fox is a great place to be introduced to Cape Verde’s national dish, cachupa, which is a slow cooked stew of sorts. They also make cachupa refogada, basically next-day cachupa, the perfect hangover cure.
Don’t be fooled by the idea that Lisbon’s beer is watered-down. The local favourites Super Bock and Sagres have around 5% alcohol, but on a sunny day, that’s enough. If you’re looking for craft beers, be sure to check out Musa at Bica, their snacks also slap. Natural wine is having a moment with cool bars pouring directly from local producers, check out Black Sheep, Vino Vero and Comida Independente (order the best pastrami sandwich in Lisbon while you’re there).
You can drink water directly from the tap and admire the huge aqueduct whilst you’re at it. Bring a reusable water bottle on your trip as there are chafarizes (water fountains) scattered throughout the city, serving as a reminder of a time where you had to walk for water. You can also ask for a copo de água (glass of water) at any café, Portuguese folks know how hot it gets.
The surge in Lisbon’s tourism has also provoked a funny phenomenon, where regional classics have gotten a revamp, think custard tarts made with chocolate and codfish-cakes with cheese. The wrath they got from the locals should make even the boldest of tourists a little hesitant to order them. To make up for that disgrace, an emerging generation of chefs have been adding a new energy to the food scene while paying respect to culinary traditions. Henrique Sá Pessoa’s Tapisco in Príncipe Real is a mixture of tasca and tapas, Jose Avillez’ Bairro do Avillez offers a new take on typical portuguese plates, and the buzzing food collective New Kids on The Block sure deserve the crowds that always flock to their events (or to Musa da Bica).