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Lisbon Restaurants

There is good food to be had in Lisbon, especially if you like seafood. Bacalau, or cod, is a traditional favorite, and it is generally very tasty however you order it. Cod is overfished, however, and for that reason some people avoid it. You’ll also want to try sardines, another Portuguese favorite (or obsession, according to some). These aren’t stinky little fish packed in oil and sealed in a can: Portuguese sardines are fresh, and usually served grilled with grainy salt and olive oil. Pork is also a very popular dish, and if you’re a fan of good cheese or wine, be aware that Portugal has some outstanding offerings in both categories. Portuguese olives are also considered among the best in the world.


Most visitors to Lisbon wind up eating in the Baixa, or the pedestrian area downtown near the waterfront. There are numerous sidewalk cafes there, and the food is usually good enough to attract locals, too. The sheer number of cafes there is enough to keep the prices reasonable. Look for folding chalkboards advertising daily specials, or peek in a window at the selection of fresh seafood and pick something out. Fancier restaurants are located a little further away. If you’re really hungry, head for a churrascaria. This Brazilian import is a buffet featuring obscene amounts of meat. Carnivores will not want to ever leave!


If you want to eat cheap, your best bet is probably a bakery. For a couple of Euros, you can easily pick up a couple of rolls made with ham and/or cheese and something sweet. Grab a fine bottle of Portuguese wine and head off to your hotel or a park for a nice meal!


Be warned of one cultural pitfall: in Portugal it is common for waiters to bring bread, cheese, olives, ham and other snacks to your table without being asked to do so. Anywhere else in the civilized world, this would be taken to mean the snacks are free and included in the cost of the meal. Not so! Any olives, bread or anything else you eat will be added to your bill! In some cases, even munching one olive will be enough for your whole party to be charged an extortionate amount for the “cubierto,” in some cases as high as €5 each or more! If you don’t want to eat what has been brought (or if you’re offended in principle at the notion of paying for something you didn’t ask for) simply ignore it or ask the waiter to remove it. If you leave it there for a while, the waiter will usually remove it anyway. This practice is found all over Portugal, but it is particularly acute in Lisbon: other parts of the country seem to be getting away from it.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
19 Sep 2007

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