24 hours in Lisbon: A food lover’s guide, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

 24 Hours in Lisbon: A Food lovers guide

If you’ve never been to Lisbon before, you’re in for a treat. Fertile soils, easy access to the sea and an irrepressible sweet tooth have defined Portugal’s culinary culture and brought it a good deal of acclaim. But while classics like bacalhau (dried salt cod) and pasties de nata (custard tarts) never go out of fashion, there are plenty of other dishes here to tempt your appetite. If you’ve only a day or two in the city, make sure you try the following:

Portugal flag flying in the wind

Photo By: Mel Butler

Custard tarts at Antiga Confeitaria de Belem

Lisbon’s most famous patisserie, Antiga Confeitaria de Belem is ideal for laying down some much-needed energy reserves ahead of a busy day of sightseeing. A hop skip away from Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Belem’s famous pasties de nata (sweet filo pastries filled with custard) have been made, baked and sold here since 1837.

Custard tart from Antiga Confeitaria de Belem

Photo By: Alexandra Williams

When Portugal’s liberal revolution forced the monastery to close in 1834, the monks banked on the success of their recipe (to this day a closely-guarded secret) to fund their livelihoods. A local sugar cane refinery provided the sugar and the rest, as they say, is history.

pastéis de belém shopfront

Photo By: Mel Butler

Pasteis de nata are best enjoyed the traditional way – straight from the oven, dusted down with cinnamon and/or powdered sugar and chased down with a cup of strong black coffee. At roughly €1 each, you’ll be tempted to scarf down more than just the one!

Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, 84-92 Rua de Belem,   http://www.pasteisdebelem.pt     

Belem Tower on the water

Photo By: Mel Butler

 

Grilled salt cod at Café a Brasileira

Many of Lisbon’s best restaurants offer great lunchtime deals, especially if you opt for the menu do dia (fixed menu) or prato do dia (daily special). If you’re shopping or sightseeing around Chiado, Café a Brasileira (established in 1905) is a unique place to stop by, an old world atmosphere reflected in its gleaming art deco fittings.

dried salt cod dish

Photo By: Alexandra Williams

Wanting to try a typical Portuguese dish, I honed in on the grilled bacalhau (dried salt cod) and wasn’t dissapointed. It came out glistening with olive oil and butter, served with onions, peppers, garlic spinach and roast potatoes. The portions were so large I could barely move when I got up from the table!

 Café a Brasileira sign above the entrance

Photo By: Alexandra Williams

NB: Restaurants in Lisbon will often serve you couvert (appertisers) e.g. bread, cheese and butter, before your meal. Anything you eat is added on to the bill so send these away if you’re not too hungry (this is where I got burned…).

Café a Brasileira, 120 Rua Garrett

Park Eduardo VII with views to the old town

Photo By: Alexandra Williams

 

Sweet pastries in Sintra

Just half an hour from Lisbon by train, Sintra is great for a day trip. And while most visitors come to explore the town’s exotic gardens and fairytale palaces, its famous bakeries are worth a look-in too.

 

Buildings in Sintra

Photo By: Alexandra Williams

Marching up the hill towards the National Palace, you’ll come across Fabrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa, a small bakery that’s been cranking out queijadas (crisp pastry shells filled with a mixture of fresh cheese, sugar, flour and cinnamon) since 1756. These bite-sized cheesecakes were a hit with Portugal’s royal and aristocratic families and are also sold at Café Saudade opposite the train station, whose marbled floors and frescoed ceiling bear more than a hint of royal opulence.

Fabrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa sign

Photo By: Alexandra Williams

Sintra’s second-most famous sweet are travesseiro – flaky puff pastries filled with a sweet, jam-like filling made from ground almonds and egg yolks. You can try them at Piriquita on Rua das Padarias or, if that’s closed, a few steps further down at Piriquita II.

Fabrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa, 12 Alameda Volta do Duche
Café Saudade, 6 Avenida Doutor Miguel Bombarda,  

Piriquita, 1-5 Rua das Padarias
Piriquita II, 18 Rua das Padarias

colourful tile motif

Photo By: Alexandra Williams

 

Wine tasting at ViniPortugal

Keen to try out a whole host of Portuguese wines without the rigmarole of booking a wine tasting class? ViniPortugal allows you to drop by at short notice, either on your own or in a group. The procedure is simple: buy an enocard for €2, grab a glass and taste as many tipples as your credit allows. There’s about 12 different wines to choose from, ranging from full-bodied Douros to light Vinho Verdes, as well as port and Madeira.

Wall of wine on display

Photo By: Mel Butler

The tasting rooms are tucked away beneath the 18th century arcades on the western side of Praca do Comercio. This grand square was dominated by Lisbon’s Royal Palace which, unfortunately, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755. Nevertheless, it’s a pleasant place to stroll and take pictures of the huge equestrian statue of King Joseph “The Reformer” facing the Tagus river.

ViniPortugal, Praca do Comercio, http://www.viniportugal.pt 

Statue above grand archway

Photo By: Mel Butler

Wine and tapas at Bebedouro

Situated just off Rua da Prata, Bebedouro is one of those hole-in-the-wall type places that’s overlooked at first. Stepping inside, however, is like entering a wine shop, with a huge array of bottles lining the walls. Scattered tables, dim lighting and a cosy outdoor terrace reveal it for what it actually is – a small but stylish boutique wine bar that specialises in wines from Portugal’s fertile Douro valley and serves excellent pesticos (tapas).

mackerel tapas dish

Photo By: Alexandra Williams

 

The owners make a point of working with lesser-known wine producers so, if you’re lost on what to try, ask for advice; or, if you’re not a fan of the grape, try an artisan beer or port cocktail instead. The waiter recommended I start dinner with a platter of regional meats or cheeses before moving on to the tapas (tinned mackerel drizzled with virgin olive oil and served on cornbread and the tomato-based squid stew were two of the ones I tried). The servings are surprisingly huge here so, in the interests of tasting as much as you can, feel free to order the dishes as you go.

Bebedouro, 24 Rua Sao Nicolau

Jeronimo's Monastery

Photo By: Mel Butler

Here are some amazing activities that you can book while in Lisbon, Portugal before you go.


Alexandra Williams

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ASzydlowska  and 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alexandra.e.williams/

 

 

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14 Comments

    1. Thanks Tamie for your comment, it made me really hungry reading it. I am heading back to Lisbon in October for my birthday and I can’t wait to try out some of Alex’s suggestions.

  1. This post made me laugh – my parents live in Portugal and we often talk about how rubbish Portuguese cakes are (my mam threatens to set up an English tea-room just to show off what real cakes are like), she’d not be pleased you enjoyed their sweet delicasies 😉 I, on the other hand, can’t go a day without a vanilla pastry when I’m there.
    And I’m so gonna get full marks on the imaginary score sheet in my head for telling my dad about the Vino tasting place – he’ll love that! (but hate that I told HIM about it!)

    1. I always think it is funny that we always think what we have at home is better. My friend who is a great copyright, wrote the story and I supplied her with some of my pictures from my time in Portugal. I am heading there again in October for my birthday. I think a English tea-room in Portugal would be a great idea especially overlooking the water. lol, parents never like being told things.

  2. All this great food! 🙂 And architecture! And history… I’ve got to get to Europe (So glad I’m going in October!)

    1. When you come over this way Kati, you are going to have to let me know. I would love to met you and take you around everywhere. Thanks for your kind words

    1. I am always craving wine 🙂 I am heading back to Lisbon in October, so hopefully I can get some then. Enjoy your weekend

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