Having a Lisbon food experience was something we had in mind in our previous trip to Portugal’s different cities. During that trip we mostly tasted “tapas”.
Now we wanted to have an experience, guided from locals as we love quality in food and good ingredients.
So, we had a tour through Withlocals and it was the right choice. Withlocals is one of the tour providers we decided to add to our suggestions for organized tours. We wanted to make sure their services are of the level we wanted them to be.
We booked with them and were assigned with a local guide. Her name was Luciana; a fantastic, funny and well educated person. She got us through the small Lisbon food establishments, that had something special “to say”.
Bottom line? We had lots of great food and fun!
Let us get you through our food experience.
Lisbon Food Tip: In our tour we tasted around 10 different flavors/dishes. Make sure to have space in your stomach; eat an early breakfast and book the Lisbon food tour after 1pm.
Our first stop was…
Casa da India (House of India)
Wait… What? We were puzzled to see that name outside the tavern. We looked at each other, wondering if we were about to go into an Indian restaurant.
A second look at the -nearly- outdoors grill was enough. A really fast cook was roasting chicken, pork, fish, squid in parallel lines over open fire/coals.
The tavern is at Bairro Alto and you can get there through Metro. When you look at it from outside it doesn’t show as a fancy/touristy place at all. When driven to such places by locals, that usually means you will eat good food.
Luciana explained that we would taste cod fish and “bifanas”. Bifanas are really popular in Portugal. It is the simplest sandwich you can find.
Two plates arrived. The sandwich was obvious but where was the cod fish?
A small potato-looking delicacy was at one of the plates. That was Pastel de Bacalhau, aka, Codfish Cake.
Yes, you read it well. It was a Codfish cake. Really tasty. You can eat as it is or dip into a spicy sauce that largely enhances its taste. It is a traditional plate of Portugal. They cook cod and tuna with many ways.
In other places in Portugal it is served along with a liqueur (more on that in our upcoming posts for Madeira and our 50km hiking trips there).
The bifana sandwich was soft and really well seasoned.
The tour was becoming a really promising one.
Pasteis De Nata
From cod and pork to dessert? That was a turn-around!
Everybody has to taste this fantastic sweet. We had some during our previous trip in Lisbon and we simply liked it. Little did we know that we were about to taste the most fantastic and fresh one in Lisbon.
That was a completely different experience for our palate.
The “Manteigaria” shop, at Rua de Loreto, serves only Pasteis De Nata sweets. You can literally watch the pastry chefs make them.
Fresh ones come out from the oven every 30 minutes.
That guarantees that you will eat something fantastic! We can’t transfer the emotion, that was generated from such a fresh dessert. It was heavenly. There were lines of people waiting to get served, just to get a couple of them!
A dessert was an out of the box way to start a food tour, right? Well, more surprises were expecting us along the way!
The “Bread of God” (pão de deus)
The store was “A Padaria Portuguesa”. A bakery with lots of sweets looking at you from the shop window. It was an open invitation to a sugary feast.
However, the secret delicacy to taste here was the “Bread of God”. It is covered with coconut. The filling interior is a buttery brioche-like bread.
It is fluffy, soft with lemon zest, a little bit of rum and an “idea” of vanilla.
Such breads usually has dried coconut flakes as a topping, but in this shop coconut covers 80% of the bread.
So far, we had 2 sweets in our Lisbon food tour. An unorthodox -maybe- way to start a food tour, but on the other hand it really puts a smile on your face, right?
Along our walk, Luciana was explaining things for the history of the city and the points of interest we were looking at. Food and guided tour, all in one!
Leaving desserts behind us (with a bit of sadness), it was time for Tapas tasting! We sat at Tasca Pombalina. A small busy tavern who served us with a tri-plate dish.
- Octopus with onions
- Chickpeas with cabbage
- Chicken offals with red sauce
The food was plenty and we couldn’t finish it all! I am not a huge fan of chickpeas (Maria likes them more), but these tasted really good. The octopus was tender with a touch of vinegar, while the offals were chewy and with very little fat.
Food cooked like that was a really new experience of local cuisine for us. We are familiar with octopus and chickpeas but not cooked in that way. Nice surprise!
Lisbon Portugal Food Market(s)
For our next experience, Luciana took us through one of the Lisbon Food Markets. Talking about lots of ham, cheese and “bifanas” (plain bread and pork sandwiches).
Do pass by the food kiosks and take the small bites of ham and cheese to taste. There is a special soft buttery cheese in Portugal that you have to eat it like that; wrapped in a slice of ham.
Do taste, taste more and taste a little bit after that!
There is not only food market in Lisbon. There are some where you can shop and eat, while there are others that are all-under-one-roof restaurants. Such is the TimeOut Market!
Tasting more Tapas!
We moved into the Alfama district, only to sit at another small tavern, with really friendly people. The name: Tasca Sao Miguel.
A plate with Chorizo and 2 different kinds of cheese, landed on our table.
We left the place, feeling more relaxed and smiley. The wine may had to do something with that feeling, or it could be the fantastic chorizo. But, who really cares…?
Drinking Ginjinha (Ginja)
A nice shot of this sweet drink was what we needed to complete a feast of different local Lisbon foods and clean our palates.
Ginjinha is made of cherries. It is sweet and strong. It is served in small plain cups or ones made from white or dark chocolate. That makes them even stronger.
We entered the smallest standing bar (or shots bar?) ever seen in our lives, but the Ginja shots were perfect!
Two for the road and like that we reached the end of our tour, after 3 hours of walking in the city and tasting so many things!
Overall feelings after our Lisbon Food Tour
Despite tasting all that amount of food we were not feeling heavy. That is usually a sign of good quality of the ingredients.
During our walk we saw many additional landmarks of Lisbon that we had no idea they existed, like the oldest bookstore in the world: Bernard Chiado (Livraria Bertrand), one of the oldest bars in Lisbon (A Brasileira) and so many more.
That day, was also the Freedom day for Lisbon, so there were tons of red carnations all over the city.