We like to eat, and Lisbon is a great place to do that. There are many excellent places to go, from touristy seafood restaurants, to cozy kebab houses, to small cafes with one or two tables. Here is a short list of the most notable foods and restaurants we discovered here.
Pastel de Nada, which translates to “creame cake” is a yummy little egg tart pastry made from filo dough and egg yolks. You can find these at pastelarias (cafes / pastry shops) everywhere in the city. They make a perfect breakfast or desert. I will miss these when we’re gone.
Bacalhau is a dried and salted cod fish. There are many recipes for this well preserved fish. Most notably Pastel de Bacalhau, which is a small codfish cake. Some places serve pastel de bacalhau com cheese. Served warm and fresh, these are really tasty! Bacalhau com Natas is another popular dish that we unfortunately have not tried yet. It’s apparently popular and several restaurants have been out of it. It’s an oven baked dish with potatoes, onions, cream, and of course, bacalhau.
Barnacles are a new favorite of ours. (They are farm raised, not scrapped of the bottom of a boat, Mom.) They are served steamed and there’s a trick to eating them. You have to tear the leathery neck part away from the shell to open one. Inside is a salty, buttery piece of meat. It’s kind of like a clam neck, but more tender.
Giant Tiger Prawns are as big as some lobster tails and really good. Order them grilled with a garlic butter sauce. Sapphire prawns, which are a little smaller than the giant ones are great this way too, and not quite as pricey.
Cervejari Ramiro is a popular three story seafood restaurant here that opened in the 1950s. It’s a bit touristy, but they do all the Portuguese seafood dishes and the waiters can be very helpful. We found a small seafood place right near our apartment that we like even better, A Penalva da Graça. A smaller selection of fresh seafood is delivered daily here and they are more affordable.
One thing I should mention is a lot of restaurants serve seafood by the kilo. This can be a bit confusing if you are not used to it. We found our server knew we really didn’t want a kilo of barnacles and suggested we get 200 grams (0.2 kilos) instead. Ask for help if your not sure what you are ordering.
Kebabs and grilled meats are also popular here. Restaurante Santo André is a great little place in the Alfama area. We’ve been there many times while here in Lisbon. They have a large Portuguese menu, but the meat kebabs, grilled outside, are excellent. They are open all day, which is convenient for us, and Friday nights they have Fado (live Portuguese music). There are several other restaurants we tried the kebabs at too. One cozy little place had hooks built into the table to hang the grilled meat on. This gave us a great idea of installing kebab hooks on our next dining table.
Donner Kebabs are another new food for us. This is a fast food we’ve never seen in the US. It would probably need to go by another name there thanks to the Donner Party though.The delicious meat in these kebabs contains a lot of phosphates and is a controversy in the EU over health issues. We rarely eat fast food though, so a donner kebab on a rare occasion shouldn’t kill us.
There is no shortage of great Asian restaurants here too. Our favorite, RDs Cafe, is a small family owned Nepalese restaurant. They don’t have a specific menu but usually have a noodle dish and dumplings along with some other dish like chicken chili or honey butter chicken wings. If you like spicy food like us, let them know. The owner grows her own chilies and makes the best sauces and dried spices. She told us most Portuguese do not like things too spicy, so it’s us and some guys who drive Tuk-Tuks who she’ll serve the super hot stuff!
Of course we’ve had plenty of Sushi here too. We usually don’t go for sushi buffets or all you can eat deals, but the places we found that offered this were really good. For 10 – 14 euros each we’ve been able to stuff our faces with delicious sushi. The all you can eat places are made to order any thing off the menu. The menus have been quite extensive and included soups, salads, and hot dishes. The one buffet we tried was not very busy so again we had made to order what ever we wanted. It was expertly prepared high quality sushi too.
One last place I want to mention is the Red Frog Speakeasy. Don’t order off the drink menu, instead ask one of the well trained mixologists to impress you. Beware though, these are San Francisco priced cocktails here, but definitely worth it.
This is just a few of the great places we found here. If you like to eat, Lisbon is the place for you. Don’t forget to have some Gelado for desert!