Where to eat the best sandwiches in Lisbon
Most parts of the world have their own local versions of sandwiches. Protein and vegetables tucked inside two slices of bread, perfect to eat on the go or as a quick meal, which is usually affordable and hits the spot. What’s not to like?
Some of the most iconic sandwiches around the world include the American club sandwich, French influenced Vietnamese bành mì, Parisian croque monsieur and croque madame, or the Philly cheesesteak, just to name a few. Here in Portugal, the most beloved sandwiches tend to be all about the meat. In fact, the top three Portuguese sandwiches would probably be bifanas, which consists of juicy pork in a bun, pregos, pan fried beef steak sandwiches, and sandes de leitão, with spit roasted suckling pig meat tucked inside a rustic wheat bun. But of course there are more Portuguese sandwiches worth trying around here!
If you love this kind of food and you travel to Portugal, we encourage you to try some of the best sandwiches in Lisbon:
Nova Pombalina: cured ham and Serra da Estrela cheese
We start with a classic of Portuguese sandwiches, a simple cured ham sandwich, known in Portuguese as sandes de presunto. At A Nova Pombalina in downtown Lisbon, they make a sandwich which is rather simple to prepare, but that is special because of the high quality meat and cheese chosen for it: we’re talking about cured ham and queijo da Serra, that is, buttery strong raw sheep milk cheese, from the highest mountain in mainland Portugal, Serra da Estrela. The saltiness of the presunto comes together beautifully with the unctuousness of the cheese, which is so rich that it can’t really be cut into proper slices. Have these ingredients tucked inside a crusty bread roll and you have yourself a very Portuguese sandwich which, like most things Portuguese cuisine, is indeed fairly straightforward but great because of the ingredients used.
A Nova Pombalina is popular with Lisbon inhabitants for a quick sandwich made with regional cheeses and meats. Instead of processed cheeses sliced with a machine or hams which are pink and watery, here you’ll find a carefully selected range of cheeses and charcuterie, usually cut by hand, just like in the good old days. They’re also famous for their sandes de leitão, that is, the roasted suckling pig sandwich, which you can see on their windowshop – you can come here for this one or follow our recommendation below. Whatever you eat, wash it down with A Nova Pombalina’s natural juices, which keep varying every day according to what fruits are available.
🍔 sandes Serrana
📍Rua do Comércio 2, 1100-321 Lisbon
As Bifanas do Afonso: bifana pork sandwiches
For Portuguese folks, bifanas need no introduction and we’re happy to observe how, in recent years, the same starts applying to foreign visitors who come to Lisbon with a keen interest in food. Even though the name might make you think this sandwich is made with beef, bifana is actually made with pork. Thin slices of pork are marinated with loads of garlic and white wine, and slowly cooked in pork lard with some of the juices of said marinade. No wonder a good bifana is so juicy! The bread used for bifanas has to be crusty enough to hold its shape after it soaks up all this tasty moisture. You may season your bifana further to taste and, customarily, this is done with a squeeze of mustard or a splash of spicy peri-peri sauce.
As Bifanas do Afonso is one of the most iconic bifana shops in Lisbon. Historically, this has been a hole in the wall restaurant for the working class to grab a quick, filling and delicious lunch. Now-a-days, you’ll probably see these Portuguese individuals stand in line with tourists who have heard that As Bifanas do Afonso is so worth it for a meal, a quick snack or, insider’s tip, as a brilliant hangover food which will help you soak up the alcohol in your system. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t order a cold draft beer (in Portuguese imperial), which truly does go so well with this succulent pork sandwich.
📍Rua da Madalena 146, 1100-340 Lisbon
BBB Taste: cured tuna sandwich
Even though Portugal’s most popular sandwiches are indeed meat focused, that doesn’t mean we don’t have options with other types of protein, namely fish. Muxama is to tuna fish what presunto is to pork, that is, a salted and cured cut, which can be thinly sliced and used in appetizers, as salad topping and, of course, sandwiches.
Tuna muxama usually comes from the Algarve, where it’s most commonly enjoyed on its own rather than with bread, but Lisbon sandwich shop BBB Taste has been bold enough to craft a sandwich featuring muxama and rocket leaves. This beauty goes by the name Muxamama, and it’s not something you’ll easily find elsewhere. In fact, BBB Taste’s range of “craft Portuguese sandwiches” are very worth trying, as they feature fillings which have lots of Portuguese character, yet aren’t more of the same things usually found in other establishments.
🍔 Muxamama sandwich
📍Rua da Esperança 44, 1200-658 Lisbon
Pigmeu: “a Porcalhona de Campo de Ourique”
Campo de Ourique’s restaurant Pigmeu never ceases to surprise us with their take on pork. The brand’s philosophy is based on the use of the animal’s meat, nose to tail, that is, focusing on a very low waste and sustainable approach, which we quite admire, to meat consumption.
Amongst the many creative dishes Pigmeu keeps crafting, some deeply rooted in Portuguese culinary tradition, others clearly bringing to the table international influences, we find “a Porcalhona de Campo de Ourique”. This sandwich’s name translates as “the piggyish [meaning dirty] one from Campo de Ourique” and it is basically Pigmeu’s take on a bifana. The pork is top notch and we wouldn’t expect any less as that is precisely Pigmeu’s speciality. What takes this sandwich to the next level is the soft bread it’s served with, which is bolo do caco, a bread from Madeira islands prepared in-house with wheat flour and sweet potato. This is the perfect spongy bread to soak up not only the meat’s juices but also the extra gravy this Porcalhona is served with.
🍔 A Porcalhona de Campo de Ourique
📍Rua 4 de Infantaria 68, 1350-274 Lisbon
Suja Mãos: pork neck sandwich
Sandwich shop Suja Mãos does one thing, and one thing only, and that is pork neck sandwiches, known in Portuguese as sandes de cachaço de porco. The name of this establishment translates as “the one that gets your hands dirty” and this is because eating this kind of sandwich can be a messy affair, but it’s very well worthwhile to drip sauce all over your hands and allow yourself to enjoy!
Suja Mãos’s pork sandwiches are prepared with very succulent pork neck meat, slowly cooked for 6 hours, inside a papo-seco type of Portuguese bread roll, which is toasted to further be able to soak the sauce which is make or break for this type of sandwich. To complete your meal, this shop in Príncipe Real also serves soup and meat croquetes prepared with the same type of pork cut. If the slogan “finger lickin’ good” wasn’t already taken, we could very well apply it here!
🍔 sandes de cachaço de porco
📍Rua Monte Olivete 71, 1200-424 Lisbon
Afonso dos Leitões: suckling pig sandwich
Alongside bifana (pork sandwich) and prego (beef steak sandwich), roasted suckling pig sandwiches make the triad of Portugal’s favorite sandwiches. Leitão, that is, spit-roasted baby pig, is a thing of devotion here in Portugal. The areas of Mealhada in the center of Portugal and Negrais, closer to Lisbon, are known to prepare the best leitão in the country, and folks from all over the nation go there to enjoy the succulent meat which hides beneath perfectly crispy skin.
Because suckling pig is a type of meat which is rather fatty (read: really tasty), it goes wonderfully in sandwiches too. A sandes de leitão features nothing but the bun and pieces of the meat in between the bread. At the most, you may be given a little bit of gravy for dipping, but you should be able to taste the richness of the meat on its own. Afonso dos Leitões is one of the best places to eat roasted suckling pig sandwiches in Lisbon, while a few others include A Nova Pombalina mentioned above, Dom Leitão (Estádio Pina Manique) and Eliseu dos Leitões (Rua Álvaro Benamor 2B).
🍔 sandes de leitão
📍Rua da Junqueira 486, 1300-598 Lisbon
📍Rua Almeida e Sousa 48B, 1350-013 Lisbon
Prego da Peixaria: tuna steak sandwich
Even though the word prego automatically speaks of a steak sandwich (see Rui dos Pregos below), there are a variety of other pregos which are more contemporary and that are steadily becoming a part of Portugal’s repertoire of sandwiches. Prego de atum is one of them and consists of a fresh tuna steak sandwich, which is very lightly seared. As you can see in the photo here, the tuna steak is mostly raw on the inside, thus remaining juicy. Tuna pregos are enriched with either mayonnaise or mustard, while the bread is usually spread with butter (plain or with herbs) to make the experience all around moist.
O Prego da Peixaria is a chain of restaurants whose name translates as “the prego sandwich from the fish shop”. Based on the name, we can easily come to know that this brand’s specialities are sea inspired sandwiches, even though they also sell a more classic beef prego, even if with some contemporary twists, including the addition of a fried quail egg. As far as fish pregos go, O Prego da Peixaria sells those featuring tuna (atum), salmon (salmão) and even cuttlefish (choco). The prego de atum is, by far, our favorite.
🍔 prego de atum
📍Several restaurants in Lisbon, including those in the neighborhood of Alvalade and inside Time Out Market Lisboa:
Rui dos Pregos: prego steak sandwich
Now, let’s focus on the classic prego, which is made with a thin pan-fried beef steak. This type of sandwich is sometimes also referred to as prego no pão, that is, prego in a bun, to distinguish the fact that you can have prego served on a plate with side dishes – in that case, we’d basically be talking about Bitoque, a straightforward steak with rice, French fries and fried egg .
Rui dos Pregos is a restaurant with a few locations around Lisbon, which specializes in pregos, both with and without bread. Because today we’re focusing on sandwiches, let us tell you that Rui dos Pregos prepares a steak so big that it basically sticks out of the bread it’s served with. The bread is as simple as it gets in Portugal, a so-called papo-seco bun, and the meat is tender, juicy and garlicky. You may add other sauces such as mustard to taste, just like a lot of Portuguese people would do. Fast, affordable, filling and incredibly tasty in all of its simplicity, prego is a sandwich meat lovers shouldn’t definitely miss out on when traveling around Portugal.
📍Several locations in Lisbon, including the Docas area in the neighborhood of Alcântara, Belém and Marquês de Pombal:
A Merendinha do Arco Bandeira: cod fritter sandwich
As Lisbon’s city center becomes increasingly touristic and gentrified, it’s becoming growinly rare to come across authentic Portuguese tascas, which serve home style food at affordable prices, in a no frills ambiance. A Merendinha do Arco Bandeira, in Rossio, is one of these establishments which has been standing the test of time, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Not only because it’s a perfect spot for a week day lunch always featuring different daily specials (pratos do dia), but also because it’s one of those taverns which always has fresh pataniscas.
Pataniscas are cod fish fritters, which are to be distinguished from pastéis de bacalhau, the more famous Portuguese cod cakes. Pastéis are made with shredded cod and mashed potatoes molded into the shape of an egg, while pataniscas are flat fritters, with cod and a flour based batter, almost like a cod pancake. Pataniscas can be served with Portuguese style saucy rice, such as red bean rice (arroz de feijão) or tomato rice (arroz de tomate), or tucked inside a bun for a quicker experience best enjoyed at the counter. Sandes de patanisca is super old-school and we love it!
🍔 sandes de patanisca
📍Rua dos Sapateiros 230, 1100-581 Lisbon
A Tendinha do Rossio: breaded pork sandwich
Even though A Tendinha do Rossio couldn’t be located in a busier and more touristic part of Lisbon, don’t be mistaken to think this is an establishment thought for international visitors who come to our country. Very much on the contrary, A Tendinha do Rossio is the oldest and still running tavern in Lisbon!
For over 100 years, A Tendinha do Rossio has been selling bifanas and sandes de panado, that is, breaded and deep-fried pork cutlets inside a wheat bun, a fairly standard sandwich you’ll find in many of Lisbon’s bars, and that here features thin cuts of pork lightly seasoned with clove. Because the shop has indeed become more popular thanks to tourism, they have increased their sandwich focused menu, which now features things like sandes de bacalhau (salted cod sandwich), sandes de queijo fresco (cottage cheese sandwich) and even ginjinha, Portuguese sour cherry liqueur.
🍔 sandes de panado
📍Praça Dom Pedro IV 6, 1100-200 Lisbon
Penta Café: grilled ham and cheese
You may think there’s nothing remarkable (or even particularly Portuguese) about a grilled ham and cheese, but you have to understand that this is, quite possibly, the most consumed hot sandwich in our country. With a buttery golden crust, and sometimes also a sprinkle of oregano, tosta mista is eaten for breakfast, as an afternoon snack and, quite often, even for lunch alongside other elements which complete the meal such as vegetable soup. At home, when we don’t feel like cooking so we’re not too hungry, a tosta mista is also a perfectly fine light dinner.
At Penta Café grilled sandwiches are sold by the meter. You read that right! Instead of asking for a sandwich, small or big, you tell the staff how many centimeters (or meters!) you’d like to have. As you can imagine, this is the perfect place to come with friends or family, in particular if you have teenagers with voracious appetite, and test how large their tostas can get. Penta Café’s cakes are also sold by the meter and their window shop, always full of sweet delights, is something to marvel at even when you don’t actually eat them – but, of course, you should.
🍔 tosta mista
📍Rua Áurea 115, 1100-053 Lisbon
Sea Me Peixaria Moderna: octopus “hot dog”
Sea Me is a self-proclaimed modern fishery, which features a unique sea inspired menu that blends the traditions of Portugal, Japan and more. Just like O Prego da Peixaria above, they have gained fame for their mighty fine prego de atum. And, in more recent times, they’ve launched a seafood hot dog, which instead of a sausage, includes a tender octopus tentacle.
We’re not sure if hot dogs could officially be considered a type of sandwich, but we didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to recommend to you this contemporary Portuguese food, as we love traditional cuisine but also appreciate a good modern reinterpretation of our culinary heritage, which results in out of the box delicious creations such as these.
🍔 cachorro de polvo
📍Rua do Loreto 21, 1200-241 Lisbon
📍Inside Time Out Market: Rua Ribeira Nova 50, 1200-148 Lisbon
Croqueteria: croquette sandwich
Salgados are Portugal’s repertoire of savory fritters, including those made with salted codfish, beef, pork and other proteins. Eating salgados in the form of a sandwich is a dying art but, thankfully, you can still enjoy it at some old-school establishments and even modern shops like Croqueteria. Besides croquetes with all sorts of flavors, including meat, seafood and vegetables, Croqueteria serves sandes de croquete, that is, sandwiches with your choice of croquete inside. The sandwich is completed with mayonnaise and lettuce to add some freshness to a combination which could otherwise easily feel dry on the palate.
If this combination sounds appealing to you, there’s nothing preventing you from ordering your favorite salgado inside a bun at any given café or pastelaria. We’re particularly fond of sandes de rissol, especially rissol de camarão, that is, shrimp rissol, which has a creamy seafood filling made with bechamel, which oddly enough tastes great as part of a sandwich.
🍔 sandes de croquete
📍Inside Time Out Market: Rua Ribeira Nova 50, 1200-148 Lisbon
Quiosque São Paulo: fried squid sandwich
Taberna da Rua das Flores (Rua das Flores 103) is consistently highlighted as one of Lisbon’s best restaurants. Chef André Magalhães is responsible for an ever changing menu which is a perfect mix of Portuguese culinary heritage, international influences (namely from countries around the world which historically had a link with Portugal) and out-of-the box daring creativity. The restaurant’s team is also responsible for Quiosque São Paulo, a small business in the picturesque square by the same name.
Quiosque São Paulo’s specialties may be simpler than those dishes you’d find at Taberna da Rua das Flores, but their dedication to exquisite flavors is here all the same. Amongst a variety of Portuguese savory fritters, petiscos and other almost ready to eat bites, we’d highlight their squid sandwich. This sandes de lula frita features strips and little tentacles of tender squid battered and deep-fried until they have a crispy outside layer, but remain moist on the inside. The squid is served inside a good bun with just the right amount of spicy mayonnaise and it tastes divine.
🍔 sandes de lula frita
📍Praça São Paulo, 1200-194 Lisbon
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