I'm now going to Lisbon. This is travel for work, and now, just at the very last minute, I'm realizing I can enjoy the place as well (and not only think to work duties 😊) and especially the cuisine.

I know that Portuguese food is known to be fish-based, but I would like to know what I shouldn't really miss from Portuguese cousins, and the one from Lisbon in particular.

So, what is a very typical Portuguese food from Lisbon that I MUST taste?

  • 1
    Are you only interested in main dishes or also in sweets? (Portuguese cuisine is as broad as unknown. There are literally hundreds of completely different dishes - although a small country each region has something in particular - is there something you want to focus on?)
    – nsn
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 8:09
  • Sweets are fine as well, as long as they are typically from Lisbon/Portugal. Thanks
    – Daniele B
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


Typical food from Portugal.

I will write the names in Portuguese and whenever possible translate it. Some of the dish names are dedicated to someone (their creator or restaurant that first served it) and some are named after the cooking process or the cooking device where it's made. Its hard to translate since some of these are really Portuguese types of pans like the "cataplana".

There are types of dishes for everyone but be prepared because not all flavors are love at first taste. Even dishes with a "cute" look and an easy-going taste can become heavy beasts :) - try the Francesinha if you feel brave.

Sweet francezinha with inocent look


In Lisbon all grilled fish is good. It's a coastal city so the relation with fish is long. Besides, Portuguese are fish lovers in general. It's easily accessible and fish is usually fresh. You will want to try:

grilled sardines

  • Sardines (grilled) - This is the king of grilled fish. It's becoming one of the city symbols.
  • Mista de peixe - some restaurants will bring a mix of grilled fish. You can try several this way. It will be called "Mista de peixe"
  • Caldeirada de peixe
  • Arroz de polvo (octopus rice)
  • Bacalhau - It's not from the Portuguese coast but Portuguese have a long relationship with this fish. Portuguese dry it and that conserve it in salt which gives it a particular flavor. Different from the fresh bacalhau eaten in the northern countries. You will want to try. Portuguese say there are 1001 ways to cook bacalhau. There are probably more! :) The most common are:

enter image description here

  • Boilled bacalhau (traditional in Christmas night, present in every house)
  • Bacalhau in the oven (there are many version, depending on the seasoning, with very different tastes)
    • Grilled bacalhau with "puched potatoes"
    • Bacalhau com natas
    • Bacalhau com broa
  • Bacalhau à Braz
  • Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá
  • Bacalhau à lagareiro
  • Bacalhau à Zé do Pipo
  • Pataniscas de bacalhau
  • Pasteis de bacalhau
  • Arroz de bacalhau

Seafood / Dishes with seafood

cataplana de marisco

  • Arroz de marisco (Rice with seafood)
  • Caldeirada de marisco
  • Cataplana de marisco
  • Arroz de lingueirao (this is a southern dish, but can sometimes be found in Lisbon)
  • Ameijoas a bulhão pato (this is more a "snack")
  • Percebes (the flavour is amazing, just like eating the sea - it's also a "snack")


carne de porco a alentejana

  • Cozido à portuguesa - this is boiled meat (pork, chicken, and cow with many vegetables and cabbage)
  • Feijoada (you might know the Brazilian version, but this is actually originally Portuguese. There a few variants depending on the place of the country).
  • Carne de porco à portuguesa (fried pork meat with some local, very nice, seasoning)
  • Carne de porco à alentejana (similar to the previous but includes clams and a different seasoning) - typical from Alentejo region but present in many restaurants
  • Secretos de porco (pork meat, from a specific part of the pork, usually very good in Portugal) Also a dish from Alentejo
  • Grilled meats, particularly "grelhada mista". It's like "mista de peixe" but with several different meats. You can find it often in restaurants
  • Francezinha is not common at all in Lisbon. This is really a dish from the North of the country. Porto in particular. Some restaurants are starting to have it, and you may want to give it a try. It's worth mentioning for its charisma. It's a recent dish with no more than a few decades, but it's getting his place. It's based on the french "croque monsieur", but very different. Imagine if a "croque monsieur" had an affair with a cow, and a pig at the same time. All in a beer and tomato hot tub. This would be their child! :)

Soups Caldo verde

  • Fish soup (there are many variants)
  • Sopa de cação (this is a fish soup, but worth mentioning separately)
  • Caldo de marisco
  • Caldo verde (the most typical of soups :) )
  • Sopa de Pão, Alho e Coentros com Ovo Escalfado (traditional from Alentejo, present in many restaurants. It's very nice, but be careful with expectations :)
  • Tomato soup (exists in many other countries though)

Sweets and deserts:

enter image description here

Portugal has a long tradition in sweets. Particularly due to convenments. The king of pastry is "Pastel de nata". It's everywhere and it will difficult to miss. Try them while slightly warm.

  • Bolo de bolacha - I don't know how typical this is. The truth is that I never found it anywhere else but it's present almost everywhere in Lisbon / Portugal. It's a very, very nice dessert made with cookies, butter, and coffee. There are many versions. Ask if it's made on the restaurant itself. There are some already industrialized versions. They are not bad, but the ones made locally are definitely better. I think it's one of those "yet to discover wonders of Portuguese cuisine" :)

Wines - For a completely different wine, I would recommend vinho Verde (green wine). It's from the North of Portugal. Try it in fresh in the white version, if you want something refreshing, or red if you want something strong and powerful (the kind of wine that makes chest hair grow :) ).

  • 2
    Remember to reference the pictures.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 11:58
  • 3
    I have to add: Polvo à lagareiro (oven-cooked octopus) and maybe lulas recheadas (squid stuffed with minced beef). Deserts: delicious pão de ló! And all those small cakes/cookies you will find in any of the typical caffes around town, like húngaros, bolinhos de côco, patas de veado, queques, bolo de arroz, bola de Berlim... :)
    – essay
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 16:23

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