Portugal is quickly becoming a popular European destination, and for good reason. The history, laid-back coastal lifestyle, and plethora of things to do are enough to draw anyone in. One of my favorite things to do when traveling is sample local cuisine, and Portugal didn’t disappoint. This is a country that is big on meat, seafood, and wine. If you’re planning a visit here, read this guide to learn about the restaurants in Portugal you need to try!
Portugal is a tipping culture, but you don’t need to tip as large a percentage as you do in the states. I typically left 10% of my bill.
You know how U.S. restaurants may serve complimentary bread with your meal? In Portugal the bread they put at your table gets charged to your bill – usually a couple euros. If you don’t want to pay for it, ask your server to take it back.
Lisbon. The star of this sandwich shop’s menu is the bifana. This sandwich is a carnivore’s dream, with slices of roast pork served on a crusty Portuguese roll. It’s best enjoyed with a cold beer.
Lisbon. This famous seafood restaurant is worth the trip away from the more popular tourist areas in the city. There’s all kinds of seafood to be enjoyed here, but my favorite was the garlic shrimp paired with a bottle of vinho verde.
A Taberna da Rua das Flores
Lisbon. This was the first restaurant I went to in Lisbon, chosen because it was so close to our bed and breakfast. It’s a hole-in-the-wall with a small menu using traditional Portuguese ingredients. Their bacalhau salad was my introduction to the staple of bacalhau, or salted cod.
Centro Vasco da Gama
Lisbon. For any other food cravings, try one of the many restaurants, fast food joints, and cafes at the Vasco da Gama Shopping Center. There’s also a large supermarket, Continente, in the basement of the mall.
Porto. Because of this restaurant, I had a change of heart when it comes to octopus. I never used to enjoy it, but the way it’s cooked here makes the meat unbelievably tender. Try the octopus filet or the octopus rice and see if you feel the same way.
Porto. This restaurant is one of many where you can try Porto’s signature dish, francesinha. This heart attack-inducing food is a sandwich packed with several kinds of cured meats and then covered with melted cheese and gravy. I couldn’t even finish half of one of these monsters, but it’s an experience any first-time visitor shouldn’t miss out on.
Lisbon. The cozy atmosphere of this Austrian-style café, with books lining its walls and comfy couches at the center of the room, invites you in. I enjoyed a healthy brunch of yogurt, muesli and fruit salad here, along with coffee and juice.
Lisbon. Another Austrian inspired café that’s perfect for brunch. Try the smoked salmon sandwich and don’t forget to order something from their extensive drink menu.
Lisbon. This was possibly the most fun restaurant I visited in Portugal. Their tasting menu incorporates seasonal Portuguese ingredients in creative ways. For example, you can enjoy a mini “clothesline” with dehydrated cod in place of clothing.
Cantinho do Avillez
Lisbon and Porto. This beautiful but unpretentious restaurant is an excellent option for a romantic dinner or special occasion. I tried several small dishes here – including the tuna confit, fried green beans, Nisa cheese, and hazelnut dessert – and none disappointed.
Porto. It’s easy to pass right by this intimate restaurant, which is inside of a historic home. Combine that with antique decor, and it feels like you’re the house guest of someone very important. I recommend the duck confit with sweet potato soufflé.
Lisbon. Alcohol is a snack, right? You absolutely must try a shot (or more) of Portugal’s signature sour cherry liqueur, or ginjinha.
Lisbon. A nearly 200-year-old institution, this bakery is worth visiting for the history alone. It’s one of the oldest pastry shops in the country. As you browse the offerings behind the glass, you’ll have a hard time choosing which sweet treat to try.
Manteigaria Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata
Lisbon. This little shop is where I found the best pasteis de nata of all time. I came here every night I stayed in Lisbon and if I lived there, I’d probably be 50 pounds heavier by now. Make sure to sprinkle each warm tart with a little cinnamon and powdered sugar before eating.
Porto & Lisbon. Who doesn’t love chocolate? You’ll be floored by all the gourmet options at this lovely chocolate shop. You’ll want to get one of each flavor, but the port wine and sour cherry chocolates incorporate famous Portuguese ingredients.
Where in Portugal would you eat?
Let me know in the comments! And share this post with anyone you know planning a trip to Portugal!