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10 must-try typical foods from Lisbon (and where to eat them)


Being the main city of Portugal, Lisbon is also, as one would expect, the culinary capital of the country. Lisbon’s cuisine is a blend of many cultures, shaped by its long history of exploration and worldwide trade. This mix has created a food culture that is deeply rooted in tradition yet doesn’t shy away from innovating, as new people continually arrive in the city, and Portuguese travelers and emigrants bring back various influences from different corners of the world.

From Roman establishments to Moorish conquests, each era has left its mark on Lisbon’s culinary practices. The Romans introduced olives and olive oil, staples that remain central to Portuguese cooking today. The Moors, ruling from the 8th to the 12th centuries, introduced a variety of new ingredients, such as oranges, lemons, and saffron, along with culinary techniques that significantly shaped the local diet.

The Age of Discoveries, starting in the 15th century, further transformed Lisbon’s culinary landscape. Sailors returned from new worlds with spices like cinnamon and pepper, and plants like tomatoes and potatoes, which were gradually incorporated into the local cuisine. However, the most significant import was cod, or bacalhau, which became the basis for countless traditional Portuguese dishes and is often nicknamed “the faithful friend.”

Feat photo by April Everyday


a blackboard sign next to a rock wallPhoto by Descubra Lisboa


Lisbon’s gastronomy, similar to other regions in Portugal, is characterized by its simplicity and reliance on the freshness of ingredients. In our capital city, meals often center around seafood, thanks to the city’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Iconic dishes such as grilled sardines (which are only available seasonally, during warmer months), bacalhau in its many forms, and seafood stews like caldeirada (pictured below) reflect the connection of the city’s inhabitants to the sea, which has been a source of sustenance for centuries.


a bowl of food on a platePhoto by Continente Feed


Cooking methods in Lisbon often involve grilling or roasting, techniques that honor the ingredient’s natural flavors without overshadowing them. Although the Portuguese once traversed the globe with ambitions of dominating the world’s spice trade, today, spices are used with a light hand in the Portuguese kitchen, aimed at enhancing rather than dominating the dishes.

Another hallmark of Lisbon’s food scene is its bakeries, locally known as pastelarias, which are renowned for historic pastries such as pastéis de nata (custard tarts), but in reality offer so much more, both sweet and savory. Besides selling fresh goods, local bakeries serve as community hubs and an integral part of the daily life of lisboetas, who use coffee breaks and meal times to mingle with neighbors, spend quality time with friends and family, and slow down to enjoy the pleasures of eating and sharing food.

As we look into the dishes that have defined Lisbon’s culinary identity, it is clear that our city’s food is a reflection of its diverse history, one we look forward to sharing with you in person during our Lisbon Roots – Food and Cultural Walk.


a plate of foodPhoto by Sr. Bacalhau


1. Pataniscas de bacalhau | Flat codfish fritters

  The appearance of pataniscas de bacalhau can be linked with Portugal’s maritime legacy. Originating during the Age of Discoveries, about 500 years ago, when Portuguese sailors navigated the globe, salted cod (bacalhau) became a staple due to its long shelf life – we have talked in detail about our nation’s obsession with cod here. Originally crafted from leftover salted cod mixed with common ingredients such as flour, eggs, and parsley, pataniscas were a pragmatic solution for a filling meal that could be easily shared and consumed by hand. Over the centuries, the recipe has seen minor adaptations, such as the inclusion of onion, but the essence of the dish remains mostly unchanged. 

The first recorded precursor to the modern patanisca dates back to the 19th century. By 1982, renowned culinary author Maria de Lourdes Modesto highlighted its significance in her book “Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa“, particularly noting its roots in the Estremadura region and its strong association with Lisbon.

Distinct from the egg-shaped pastéis de bacalhau, pataniscas are flat codfish fritters noted for their crispy exterior. When you eat them in a sit-down situation, as they are mostly eaten today in traditional Lisbon restaurants, they are typically served with a side of saucy rice with beans (arroz de feijão malandrinho). The key to their unique texture is the batter, which must be airy yet firm enough to hold the pieces of cod. Each bite offers a blend of savory flavors with subtle hints of parsley and a background of onion sweetness, making them satisfying and, if we are to talk from experience, even a little addictive! This dish is a beloved comfort food, often consumed at local taverns (tascas) and if you visit a truly oldschool one, you may still be able to order a sandes de patanisca, that is, a fritter or two tucked inside a bread roll, to comfort your stomach between main meals. If you come across this kind of sandwich, do make the most of the opportunity, as pataniscas on the go are becoming a rarity in the city these days, and we personally quite like them!


Where to taste the best pataniscas de bacalhau in Lisbon:


A Merendinha do Arco Bandeira

One of the few places in the city where sandes de patanisca are available every day.

📍Rua dos Sapateiros 230, 1100-581 Lisbon


O Poleiro

They’ve been delighting customers with freshly fried pataniscas since the 80s.

📍Rua de Entrecampos 30 – A, 1700-158 Lisbon


Varina da Madragoa

They serve traditional cod pataniscas and, for those wishing to experience a more contemporary twist on this historic recipe, they have octopus ones too – pataniscas de polvo.

📍Rua Madres 34, 1200-109 Lisbon


a close up of food on a platePhoto by NIT


2. Bacalhau à Brás | Shredded salt cod scrambled with eggs

Bacalhau à Brás, a beloved staple of Lisbon’s culinary repertoire, is said to have been invented by a tavern owner named Brás in Lisbon’s bustling Bairro Alto district. Originally designed to use up leftovers, the dish combines shredded salted cod with crispy straw potatoes, all bound together by scrambled eggs. It was likely an economical way for taverns to utilize lesser-used pieces of salted cod while providing a filling meal to their patrons.

Over the years, bacalhau à Brás has undergone subtle variations, and the technique à Brás, which translates to scrambling your choice of ingredients with matchstick fried potatoes, sautéed onions and a generous amount of beaten eggs, is today used with other ingredients, even if to a way lesser degree than bacalhau. Don’t be surprised if, while browsing a Portuguese menu, you come across camarão à Brás (with shrimp), alho francês à Brás (a vegetarian version with leek), or even tofu à Brás (a preferred choice for vegans). But most of all, bacalhau à Brás still stands as a testament to the versatility of bacalhau, which has been for centuries and still is a cornerstone of the nation’s diet.

The dish starts with desalting the cod, which is then shredded into fine strips. Potatoes are julienned and fried to a golden crispiness, creating an irresistible contrast in textures when mixed with the moist and flaky fish. The ingredients are gently combined with beaten eggs, cooked just until they’re set but not quite cooked through, creating a creamy mixture. Bacalhau à Brás is traditionally garnished with black olives and freshly chopped parsley for a touch of freshness.

Bacalhau à Brás has risen from humble beginnings to become one of the most emblematic dishes of Lisbon. While it is essentially an unpretentious recipe, found in day-to-day eateries and even tascas, fine dining chefs in Lisbon have also tried their hand at elevating it. Notable and certainly more refined versions of this dish include “bacalhau à Brás with explosive olives”, crafted by chef José Avillez for Cantinho do Avillez (Rua Duques de Bragança 7), as well as chef Henrique Sá Pessoa’s “calçada de bacalhau”, for the Michelin-starred restaurant Alma (Rua Anchieta 15). When the country’s top chefs have made it a point to create their signature spin on the recipe, you know we’re talking about one of the city’s most iconic dishes for sure!


Where to experience a traditional serving of bacalhau à Brás in Lisbon:


Petiscaria at Mercado de Campo de Ourique

Taste Vitor Sobral’s recipe, the father of the modernization of traditional Portuguese gastronomy, in the first food market in Lisbon, which opened a food court within, a pioneering initiative in 2013 and since then mainly attract Portuguese locals, who hangout there for lunchtime and after work, if you wish to mingle with natives. If you want to taste even more Portuguese food in a single day, join our Lisbon Market – Food & Cultural Walk, in which the tasting of this wonderful codfish à Brás, freshly made for our guests, is included.

📍R. Coelho da Rocha 104, 1350-075 Lisbon

Mercado de Campo de Ourique


Laurentina – O Rei do Bacalhau

If you are only going to eat cod at one restaurant in Lisbon, whether you are opting for Brás or other typical preparations, go to Laurentina. It will not disappoint!

📍Av. Conde Valbom 71A, 1050-067 Lisbon



Eat bacalhau à Brás in the heart of Bairro Alto, the neighborhood where the dish was originally invented.

📍Rua da Barroca 27, 1200-047 Lisbon



Also led by chef Henrique Sá Pessoa, their cod Brás style (pictured here) is creamier than the average. It’s not like the one you’ll find at Alma, but it’s delectable too, and more affordable also.

📍Rua Dom Pedro V 81, 1250-096 Lisbon


a dish is filled with foodPhoto by Adriao on Wikipedia


3. Meia desfeita de bacalhau | Salt cod and chickpea salad

Meia desfeita de bacalhau, often simply shortened to meia desfeita, consists of shredded salted cod mixed with chickpeas, typically dressed with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and sometimes onion. Parsley or coriander might be added for freshness, while hard-boiled eggs often top the dish. One of the peculiarities of meia desfeita is that it can be eaten both as an appetizer or as a main dish, and it can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature, making it ideal for warmer months, or it can be served warm, suiting the cooler seasons.

Meia desfeita should not be mistaken with bacalhau com grão, which translates to cod with chickpeas. Although both dishes include the cured fish and chickpeas, bacalhau com grão also incorporates other filling elements like potatoes and carrots, and is always served hot, constituting one of Portugal’s well-known comfort foods for the winter.

Meia desfeita, which directly translates as half undone, is a very practical dish that, like the pataniscas and bacalhau à Brás mentioned above, makes good use of readily available staple foods. These ingredients have been present in the Portuguese pantry for centuries, keeping well even before the age of refrigeration. It’s straightforward food but that doesn’t mean it’s any less tasty or nourishing than more elaborate dishes. In fact, it served as a source of energy for the working class who frequented Lisbon’s first taverns in typical neighborhoods such as Alfama, Mouraria, and Madragoa, where still today some humble eateries make it a point to serve it.

Interestingly, when we look into history, dishes like meia desfeita represent the blend of the Old World (Europe) and the New World (Americas). Its main ingredients, chickpeas, though now quintessentially Portuguese, were introduced to Europe from the Middle East and found their way into local dishes like this one, showcasing the historical trade routes and their impact on Portuguese cuisine. On the other hand, cod first came from North America, from around what is today Canada, making this a dish that couldn’t exist in Portugal if cultures and trade routes hadn’t impacted our cuisine the way we know they did. We love understanding how food is a manifestation of a historical and culinary journey, one that has and continues to develop our city’s gastronomic identity.


Where to sample a good meia desfeita in Lisbon, like back in the good ‘ol days:


Restaurante D’Bacalhau

At this cod themed restaurant, you’ll have the chance to sample many bacalhau dishes, including meia desfeita.

📍Zona Ribeirinha Norte, Rua da Pimenta 45, 1900-254 Lisbon


Café O Corvo

A classic appetizer, at a picturesque restaurant that knows how to blend traditional dishes with a more contemporary twist.

📍Largo dos Trigueiros 15a 15b, 1100-611 Lisbon


By The Wine

At one of Lisbon’s best wine bars, you’ll get to sip a glass of your label of choice while sampling Portuguese petiscos such as meia desfeita de bacalhau.

📍Rua das Flores 41 43, 1200-193 Lisbon


a close up of a pile of friesPhoto by Mulher Portuguesa


4. Peixinhos da horta | Green bean tempura

Peixinhos da horta translates directly to little fish from the garden, a playful name that cleverly describes the appearance of this dish rather than its contents. This traditional Portuguese appetizer consists of green beans dipped in a seasoned batter and then deep-fried until crispy. The result is a delightful snack that resembles small fried fish, hence the name, but it is actually one of the few vegetarian dishes from the traditional Portuguese food repertoire.

Peixinhos da horta are made with a simple batter of flour, water, salt, and sometimes (in modern kitchens), a touch of garlic or onion powder for added flavor. They are served hot and crisp, often with just a wedge of lemon to brighten up the earthy flavors of the green beans. In more contemporary Portuguese restaurants, peixinhos da horta have evolved to suit a more modern palate, often served with a variety of dips, such as garlic or herb-loaded mayonnaise, which honestly offer a rich and tangy layer that complements the fritters beautifully. Peixinhos da horta transcend class. This is the kind of petisco that you’ll find in humble neighborhood tascas, as well as trendier bars serving snacks, and even as a main meal, usually accompanied by a side of hearty rice, in sit-down restaurants.

The historical connection between peixinhos da horta and Japanese tempura is a fascinating example of how global interactions influence culinary practices. In the 16th century, Portuguese traders and missionaries arrived in Japan, bringing with them new cooking techniques and ingredients. Among these was the method for making peixinhos da horta, which represented a filling way to eat vegetables on the fasting days that the Christian faith imposed, which meant abstaining from meat, not food altogether. Over the centuries, the Japanese adapted this technique to local ingredients, creating what the world now knows as tempura. This culinary exchange highlights the impact of Portuguese explorers on global cuisine, introducing battering and deep-frying techniques to Japan, among many other influences that the Portuguese had on the foods of the world.


Snack on peixinhos da horta in Lisbon at:



In the heart of the city, in the happening neighborhood of Príncipe Real, this is a good spot to stop by for a glass of wine, a serving of peixinhos da horta, and other flavorful Portuguese petiscos.

📍Rua de O Século 242, 1250-095 Lisbon


As Velhas

Open your appetite with some peixinhos da horta, and indulge in the great dishes this traditional Portuguese restaurant serves.

📍Rua da Conceição da Glória 21, 1250-079 Lisbon


Coelho da Rocha

We love the neighborhood of Campo de Ourique, and this is one of our favorite eateries there, for peixinhos da horta and more.

📍Rua Coelho da Rocha 104, 1350-075 Lisbon


a plate of foodPhoto by VortexMag


5. Iscas com elas | Liver with potatoes

We could say that iscas com elas translates as liver with potatoes, but it actually literally translates to liver with them, “them” referring to potatoes. In Portugal, it’s understood that liver is by default served with boiled potatoes, intended to soak up the juices of the liver, pan-cooked with plenty of sliced onions in olive oil. While the potatoes are good, the star of this humble yet hearty dish is the thinly sliced liver (usually pork or calf) marinated in white wine, garlic, bay leaf, and sometimes a splash of vinegar to tenderize the meat and enhance its flavors. For best results, the marinade is usually applied overnight, and the next day, the liver slices are pan-fried, ensuring they remain tender and juicy enough to turn otherwise plain boiled potatoes into a canvas for all of these amazing flavors.

The origins of iscas com elas can be traced back to the local taverns and family kitchens of Lisbon, where economical and nutritious meals were essential. Liver, being rich in nutrients and relatively inexpensive, became a popular choice. The addition of potatoes, a staple in the Portuguese diet since their introduction in the 16th century, balanced the strong flavor of the liver, creating a dish favored by the working class. If iscas com elas was and still is served as a main meal, back in the day, street vendors would also sell sandes de iscas, a bread bun and meat combo similar to a bifana but featuring pork liver instead of other prime cuts of meat. Today, however, this kind of sandwich would be very hard to come by, as unfortunately younger and more affluent generations often associate liver with a poorer meal. But, in fact, it is super flavorful when well-cooked, certainly not tough, and undoubtedly nutritious. At most, you’ll see iscas listed as a petisco or appetizer in traditional spots, in this case meant to be eaten as a starter, and usually without the elas, that is, with no side of potatoes.

Interestingly, this dish is often associated with the traditional Fado houses of Lisbon, where it would be served late at night to Fado singers and customers, providing sustenance through the evening’s performances. Unfortunately, nowadays, most Fado houses feature more expensive foods, as they mostly cater to tourists and want to be able to up their prices accordingly. But, take it from us and don’t let a certain status associated with a dish fool you: iscas are delicious, and if you are at all interested in food history, your gastronomic explorations of Lisbon won’t be complete without trying them.


Embrace tradition and eat iscas in Lisbon at:


Das Flores

This little tasca in the heart of Chiado is a gem to try iscas and many other traditional dishes from Lisbon and elsewhere in Portugal. Here you can choose if you want your “elas” boiled or fried.

📍Rua das Flores 76 78, 1200-195 Lisbon


Zé da Mouraria

Even though this restaurant has risen to fame because of its huge portions of well-cooked cod, Zé da Mouraria’s iscas are also to die for.

📍Rua João do Outeiro 24, 1100-292 Lisbon


Tasca do Gordo

You’ll find iscas here listed as iscas à Portuguesa, as they are usually referred to outside Lisbon.

📍Rua dos Cordoeiros a Pedrouços 33, 1400-071 Lisbon


a bowl of food on a stovePhoto by Ave Dourada


6. Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato | Tangy clams with lemon and coriander

The preparation of amêijoas à Bulhão Pato begins with selecting the freshest clams possible. The clams are thoroughly cleaned to remove any sand or grit. In a large pan, garlic is sautéed in olive oil until fragrant, followed by the addition of the clams. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice is added, and the mixture is simmered until the clams open, releasing their natural briny juices that combine with the other ingredients to create a rich, flavorful broth. Follow our full recipe here! In contemporary versions of this recipe, the acidity may be intensified by substituting the lemon for white wine, or adding some to the fruit’s juices, but the old-time original recipe relied on the potential of the citrus alone. Fresh coriander is sprinkled over the clams just before serving, adding a burst of freshness that complements the tanginess of the lemon. The dish is typically served with toasted bread, often buttered extravagantly, which diners use to soak up the flavorful juices accompanying the clams.

Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato is named after the 19th-century Portuguese poet Raimundo António de Bulhão Pato, who was an enthusiast of this dish. Funnily enough, the poet has become more renowned for his culinary tastes than his literary work. While everyone in Portugal knows this clam dish, it’s intriguing to consider how many have actually read his poetry. The poet’s writings often reflected his love for the simple pleasures of Portuguese cuisine, and it is believed that his friends named this clam dish after him to honor his passion for good food and company.

You’ll find amêijoas à Bulhão Pato in a variety of dining establishments throughout Lisbon and Portugal, from simple snack bars to upscale seafood restaurants. This dish is, by far, the most popular way to consume clams in Portugal.


Order amêijoas à Bulhão Pato and a chilled bottle of vinho verde and be as happy as you can get eating in Lisbon at:



One of the most popular seafood restaurants in Lisbon for a reason. Start with Bulhão Pato style clams, but certainly keep exploring the menu.

📍Avenida Almirante Reis  1H, 1150-007 Lisbon


Cervejaria Sem Vergonha

Even though the name cervejaria translates to beer house, in Portugal we know that these are establishments where indeed beer is served but they are mostly about the seafood. So, now that you also know this, go make the most of it at Sem Vergonha with a nice serving of clams Bulhão Pato.

📍Av. de Santa Quitéria 38 D, 1200-762 Lisbon


Cervejaria Liberdade

This venue offers a sophisticated take on the classic dish and serves it in an elegant setting.

📍Avenida da Liberdade 185, 1250-096 Lisbon


a plate of food on a tablePhoto by Evasões


7. Ovos verdes | Stuffed green eggs

Ovos verdes, or green eggs, are a classic appetizer found throughout Portugal, especially popular in Lisbon’s tascas and some eateries with a keen eye on traditional dishes often overlooked in the mainstream dining scene of our city. This dish consists of hard-boiled eggs that are halved and stuffed with a lively green filling made from a mixture of the egg yolks, parsley, and sometimes other green herbs and onions. The stuffed egg halves are then dipped in beaten egg and breadcrumbs, and fried until golden and crispy. The result is a delightful contrast of creamy filling and crunchy coating, offering Portugal’s take on what the world at large knows as deviled eggs or which we could also link to Scotch eggs. 

While the exact origin of ovos verdes is not well-documented, it reflects the broader Mediterranean tradition of stuffed and fried foods, demonstrating the influence of various cultures on Portuguese cuisine. In modern Portuguese cuisine, Ovos verdes may be served with a dip or sauce, even though in the most traditional places this is not the case as the dish is more straightforward. Traditional or modern, ovos verdes is a simple yet super tasty vegetarian petisco which we’d love to see featured more often in Lisbon’s eateries.


To try the somewhat elusive ovos verdes in Lisbon, visit:



If what you are looking for is Portuguese homemade food served in a countryside family house style, then it’s worth going to the surprising Chiringuito in Campo de Ourique: one of their iconic dishes are exactly their green eggs served with naughty tomato rice, reminding us of our grandmothers’ cuisine. Just like the tip we gave you for cod à Brás, if you are just one day in Lisbon and you would like to taste several traditional dishes and get to know several restaurants in one single morning, join our Lisbon Market – Food & Cultural Walk to taste the stuffed green eggs too.

📍R. Correia Teles 31, 1350-093 Lisboa


Tasca do Mercado

If you love eating inside food markets (we certainly do), head to Tasca do Mercado and order, amongst other lovely foods, some ovos verdes.

📍Mercado de Arroios, Rua Ângela Pinto loja 25, 1900-068 Lisbon


Restaurante Zanzibar

Unlike most places, Zanzibar serves ovos verdes as a main meal, with a side of mayonnaise rich vegetable and potato salad, similar to the popular Russian salad.

📍Praça da Armada 36, 1350-027 Lisbon



Even though this is technically a fruit vendor, Frutalmeidas also boots a bar with great snacks such as ovos verdes, other fritters (their pastéis de massa tenra are legendary!) and, naturally, fresh fruit juices too.

📍Av. de Roma 45, 1700-342 Lisbon


a bowl of food on a platePhoto by Evasões


8. Bife à Marrare | Marrare style steak

Bife à Marrare, that is Marrare steak, is a Lisbon specialty named after António Marrare, an Italian immigrant who established one of Lisbon’s most famous cafés in the 19th century. Marrare’s café, actually named Marrare das Sete Portas, became renowned for its exceptional steak prepared in a unique style that has since become a staple in Portuguese cuisine, even though it isn’t always referred to as Marrare today.

Bife à Marrare consists of a high-quality cut of beef, typically a sirloin or tenderloin, which is seasoned and grilled to the diner’s preference. What sets this dish apart is the sauce, which is a rich, creamy concoction made from butter, garlic, cream, mustard, and sometimes a splash of white wine or brandy. This sauce is vigorously whipped until smooth and velvety, then poured over the freshly grilled steak just before serving. Accompaniments typically include golden fried potatoes, sometimes in the form of thin chips or thicker cuts, and a simple green salad dressed lightly with vinaigrette. 

The dish has remained popular in Lisbon’s steakhouses and restaurants, often featured as a highlight of Portuguese cuisine. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see the name Marrare printed all that often in Lisbon’s menus. It is more likely for this style of steak with sauce to be referred to as bife à café, which some may erroneously think means steak with coffee sauce, when it actually means steak cooked in the style of the cafe where it is served, but that actually tends to be fairly standard across different establishments. 


Cut through a juicy bife à Marrare or bife à café in Lisbon:


Café de São Bento

Famoso pelos bifes, o Café de São Bento oferece um bife à Marrare clássico, conhecido por ser um dos melhores da cidade.

📍Rua de São Bento 212, 1200-821 Lisboa



The highlight of their menu is the mouthwatering steak à la Brilhante, an homage to the classic steak à la Marrare.

📍Rua Moeda 1H, 1200-275 Lisbon


Café Império

If you are into steak and you are in Lisbon for some time, you’ll sooner or later end up at this restaurant, and for good reason.

📍Av. Alm. Reis 205 A, Lisbon


a bowl of food on a platePhoto by CM Mafra


9. Mão de vaca com grão | Beef trotters with chickpeas

Mão de vaca com grão, translating to beef trotters with chickpeas, is a cherished dish in Portuguese cuisine. Its origins are deeply rooted in the Portuguese tradition of utilizing all parts of the animal, reflecting both economic prudence and a profound respect for food resources. The dish is also known locally as meia-unha, which means it is typically served with half a beef trotter, including the hoof.

This dish, though a staple in Lisbon’s culinary scene, originated in the nearby culinary haven of Mafra. It combines the rich, gelatinous texture of beef trotters with the hearty, earthy flavor of chickpeas. Preparing mão de vaca com grão involves meticulous steps to ensure richness in flavor and tenderness in texture. The beef trotters are thoroughly cleaned and then simmered for several hours with onions, garlic, and some other spices. As the meat becomes tender and begins to fall off the bone, chickpeas are added along with a touch of tomato, and sometimes a bit of white wine or vinegar, to create a robustly flavored stew.

Mão de vaca com grão is particularly popular during the colder months when a hearty, warming meal is most cherished. It’s traditionally enjoyed with a side of crusty bread, perfect for soaking up the delicious juices, and a glass of red wine (vinho tinto), taking the cozy nature of the meal to the next level.


Get your hands on some mão de vaca com grão in Lisbon at:


Floresta das Escadinhas

The area is becoming increasingly touristic by the day, yet this restaurant remains committed to authentic Portuguese recipes from back in the day. A true gem for a traditional meal in downtown Lisbon!

📍Rua de Santa Justa 3, 1100-483 Lisbon


A Tasca do Tretas

Experience Lisbon style tasca dining, with some beef trotters and chickpeas on your plate.

📍Rua Carlos Mardel 115A, 1900-015 Lisbon


Os Courenses

Lovers of hearty comfort food wishing to explore the most robust flavors of Portugal, will have a blast here.

📍Rua José Duro 27D, 1700-272 Lisbon


a tray of foodPhoto by Nat’elier

10. Pastéis de nata | Portuguese custard tarts

Pastéis de nata, or Portuguese custard tarts, are undoubtedly the most celebrated Portuguese pastry. Their official origins date back to the 18th century at the Jerónimos Monastery in the parish of Belém, Lisbon. According to tradition, monks at the monastery used egg whites to starch their clothes and utilized the leftover yolks to make pastries and cakes, leading to the creation of several egg-laden desserts from the Portuguese conventual sweets repertoire, including these rich, creamy tarts. When the monastery was closed in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, the recipe was sold to a sugar refinery, whose owners opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in 1837. The descendants of the original owners still own the bakery today, and the original recipe remains a closely guarded secret, known only to a handful of people, ensuring that these custard tarts from Belém maintain their unique taste and texture.

It’s important to note the difference between Pastéis de Belém and pastéis de nata. While Pastéis de Belém are only those baked at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém and are in fact trademarked, pastéis de nata are a similar recipe (with each bakery making slight variations according to their own preferences and techniques) found all over Lisbon, across Portugal, and increasingly internationally. In English, pastéis de nata are typically known as Portuguese custard tarts and, in Asia, as egg tarts, even though they feature some variations, namely the pastry encasing the custard, which in Asia tends to be shortcrust pastry instead of puff pastry.

Pastéis de nata are characterized by their crisp, flaky crust filled with a smooth, creamy custard that is lightly caramelized on top. The dough is rolled thin and then spiraled into a cup shape, creating layers that puff up in the oven. The custard is typically made from milk, egg yolks, sugar, flour, and sometimes cinnamon and lemon peel to add depth to its flavor. Once assembled, the tarts are baked at a high temperature, allowing the edges of the dough to crisp up and the surface of the custard to blister and blacken slightly, giving them their distinctive appearance and irresistible texture.

In Portugal, these tarts are typically enjoyed as a breakfast treat or a mid-afternoon snack, often accompanied by a cup of strong coffee. They can be eaten with some powdered cinnamon and caster sugar to taste, and some people even enjoy them peculiarly by the spoon, often using the little spoon from their espresso coffee, scooping up the custard first and finishing with the pastry in a couple of bites afterwards.

Pastéis de Nata are the most famous Portuguese pastry. They are a common sight in coffee shops and bakeries across Portugal, but nothing beats eating them fresh out of the oven at pastel de nata dedicated shops such as:


Pastéis de Belém

Some people believe they serve the best custard tarts in Lisbon, while others think this is no longer the case. Either way, visiting here offers a way to experience the history of Portugal’s most iconic cake.

📍Rua de Belém 84 92, 1300-085 Lisbon



With multi stores across Lisbon (and Porto too), Manteigaria serves some of the highest rated pastéis de nata in Lisbon, according to national and international popular opinion.

📍Multiple locations:



This newcomer is making a mark in a market that is full of pastel de nata-dedicated pastry shops, not only by offering a taste of the traditional Portuguese custard tarts but also by introducing flavor variations that fuse the Portuguese specialty with desserts from around the world, such as tiramisu, crème brûlée, and oreo cheesecake.

📍Rua de Santa Justa 87, 1100-581 Lisbon


We hope this culinary tour has tempted your taste buds and sparked your curiosity about Lisbon’s rich food culture. For more delicious insights and to continue exploring the vibrant gastronomy of Lisbon with us, join our food and cultural experiences in Lisbon, and follow us on Instagram. We promise to keep sharing the best flavors, stories, and secrets our city has to offer @tasteoflisboa  #tasteoflisboa


Feed your curiosity on Portuguese food culture:

Where Lisbon locals go for lunch

Iconic foods and places Lisbon locals love

The best contemporary taverns in Lisbon


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