In one of my previous posts, I’d given a rundown on top things to do in Lisbon.
This post will provide a list of ideas on what and where to eat in Lisbon.
Pasteis de Belem
We have to start with the world famous Pasteis de Belem. Serving 16,000 “pasteis” a day, these warm egg custards are topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar are simply heavenly. Several bakeries have their own versions but Pasteis de Belem invented this custard treat back in 1837. Fun fact: Portuguese bakeries use a lot of egg yolk in their pastries because Catholic Monasteries would use all the egg whites to make sacramental bread, filter wine or starch for their habits back in the day. Brazilian cane sugar first came to Portugal around the same time so nuns added the exotic import to the leftover yolks to make this scrumptious dessert. Isn’t history fun?
We ate a lot of pasteis, like A LOT, but these were definitely my favorite. Even though Pasteis de Belem is the most touristy joint of all, Manteigaria beats them and all other pretenders. The flaky crust is thin and so delicate, just thick enough to hold the tart together before it all dissolves in your mouth. It will be the best euro you spent on a trip.
When in Lisbon, this is the one bakery you should not miss. I’ll be thinking about these custard tarts for ever!
Portuguese classics from chef Jose Avillez make it the first Portuguese restaurant to earn 2 Michelin stars. If you plan to have the maximum 15 course experience, try to get there on the early side since this tour de force will take you 2 to 3 hours. Make reservations well in advance. For us, we made a reservation directly through their website five months in advance. Belcanto is definitely a special event restaurant as it is quite expensive, but it’s a can’t-miss if youre into fine dinning.
Our first night on the town was spent eating at Ramiro’s (recommended by our hotel concierge) and it was a pleasant surprise.
The menu is a seafood-lover’s dream: oysters, clams, prawns, lobster, crab, crayfish, goose barnacles – you name it, it’s there. The menu is ample but the staff are more than happy to walk you through it. But whatever you order… don’t forget to ask for bread and butter. My husband fancies himself a bread and butter connoisseur and thinks this tops anything he had ever tried in his life. We don’t always see eye to eye but we did on this!
Mercado da Ribeira
My favorite place in Lisbon! It’s also Lisbon’s Time Out Market. Here you will find the best of Portugal’s cuisine all under one roof. From top chef stands at reasonable prices, local beverages and tasty treats, there is something here for every palate. Some of my favorites were: Sea Me Peixaria, Alexandre Silva, Manteigaria Silva, Monte Mar, and the delicious Santini Ice Cream.
Mercearia do Seculo:
A small and cosy restaurant near Principe Real where you can eat homemade Portuguese food using locally sourced organic ingredients. First time we were here we couldn’t get seated as its seven tables fill up quickly. However, you can reserve a table here.
Bairro do Avillez
A unique concept space where each corner has its own focus. There is a gourmet deli, tavern, patio, cabaret bar, and a Peruvian cantina. The patio is a seafood hotspot and charming location for lunch or dinner. Located in the trendy Chiado neighborhood, owned by Lisbon’s only two Michelin Star chefs, Bairro do Avillez is a magnet for foodies.
This place is kind of like a locals-only. If you’ve never experienced Fabo this is the perfect place to hear this uniquely Portuguese musical genre for the first time. Like opera, you understand what they’re feeling just by the tone in their voice.
Pharmacia is a (surprise surprise) pharmacy-themed space, unusual for a restaurant. It has the feel of the vintage pharmacy with old medicine boxes as charmful decor. We tried the surprise menu where Chef Susana Felicidade chooses your meal. But if food isn’t your thing, come anyway for the drinks and have a laugh at their pharmaceutically themed cocktails, such as Ibuprofen (cachaça beirão and lemon juice), Morphine (pineapple with sparkling wine), and LSD (whiskey and ginja). Bonus: It’s housed in the same building with the Pharmacy Museum, another of the cities top attractions.