What to eat in Lisbon? Petiscos, petiscos, petiscos.
Lesson #1 about food in Lisbon: the petiscos. Learn how to spell this word if you want to get the best of Lisbon food culture: petishkus. Many of you wrongly know them as tapas, which is a Spanish expression for nibbles and snacks.
Portuguese are proud to have their tasty petiscos because food is all about people – the sort of finger licking, beer sipping, wine tasting and conversation inducing experience.
You mainly need your hands, a fork for some messy saucy dishes, and of course, bread to dip and/or escort food to your mouth! It’s always something with bread, that’s just how the Portuguese roll.
Lisbon-style snails are definitely a must-try. In various petisqueiras, tiny family business restaurants and an occasional “café” you will find them for a reasonable price.
Chicken giblets stewed in a rich tomato, garlic and onion sauce.
Pork liver sautéed with white wine, garlic, sometimes with sliced onion and usually served with chips or boiled potatoes.
When in season, a simple bowl of freshly stewed fava beans will taste just right. Whether they are stewed by themselves, or with some slices of blood sausage, it’s a delish of a dish. The typical fava soup is also a part of Lisbon’s culinary identity.
Peixinhos da Horta
A vegetarian snack that consists in deep fried battered green beans. This was a cheat way to serve something that actually resembled little fried fishes.
Sort of like deviled eggs, where the boiled yolk is pureed and emulsioned with olive oil, vinegar, seasonings and parsley. After stuffing the egg whites again, each half is breaded and fried.
From June onwards is the best time to eat them. Not that they grow on trees or anything, but Portuguese like them fatty which is equivalent to tasty. No science around cooking them – just a decent coal flame, fresh sardines, rock salt and something to drink while mouthwatering aromas fill the air. Like beer.
In our historical past, a fisherman discovered how to salt and preserve cod on their journeys from the Northern seas to Lisbon. The most famous codfish dishes include the typical pataniscas – a deep fried batter mixed with pieces of cod and parsley, or the pastéis de bacalhau – a different variation with mashed potato instead.
As for main courses, “Bacalhau à brás” is a savory classic, a mix of shredded cod with onion, thin potato chips, scrambled eggs, parsley and black olives. Meia desfeita that combines laminated cod with chickpeas is a healthier option that you will also like to taste.
Pastéis de massa tenra
Literally meaning tender dough patties, which are filled with a seasoned minced meat paste. You can opt to eat them as a snack, an entrée or as a main with a side of rice and salad.
Besides all of the above eats, Lisbon’s restaurants offer many grilled dishes, fish and meat alike. Don’t miss out on our typical petiscos, fresh seafood, and simple comfort nibbles that will make you feel Portuguese.
As for sweets – well, you have all heard about the Pastel de Belém, which is Lisbon’s take on the so called Pastel de Nata, but with a two-century-old secret recipe. So, what are you waiting for?
Feed your curiosity on Portuguese food culture:
10 ways to feel like a local in Lisbon
How to identify the perfect Portuguese custard tart
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