A foodie's family guide to Lisbon
I've always thought that Portuguese food is criminally underrated so it's great to see Lisbon become known as the blossoming foodie destination it was always meant to be. Lisbon is a favourite city break for families and for good reason. With welcoming locals, year-round sunshine and attractions for all ages, the only thing you need to think about is where to find all the tastiest Portuguese snacks and that's where we're here to help!
Pastéis de Nata
Can you really say you've been to Lisbon if you haven't had a pastel de nata? They're a favourite of kids and adults alike and you can't leave without trying one.
These famous Portuguese treats are custard tarts with a little cinnamon. They sounds simple but Lisboetas (people from Lisbon) take them very seriously and it's a heated debate over where has the best pastéis de nata.
If you're looking for the most authentic, head to Pastéis de Belém. Positioned next door to the monastery where the tarts originated, they claim to have the original recipe. They also refuse to enter Lisbon's annual competition to find the best pastel de nata as they claim to be in a category on their own. These tarts can become a whole activity - visit Pastelaria Cristal to try some of the award-winning pastéis, visit your nearest Nata Lisboa to try the chain's namesake and have your own competition to see who can find the best tart in the city. Remember to let us know where your favourite was from!
Salt cod is a Portuguese favourite and you've find hundreds of different recipes that use bacalhau - there's a dish out there for everyone.
If your kids are a little on the fussy-side, look out for pastéis de bacalhau - these are fritters made from salt cod, potatoes, eggs, onion and parsley, they end up looking like fish cakes and taste even better!
Bacalhau à brás is another simple but popular dish made up of fried potato, shredded salt cod, onions, eggs and olives - you'll find this and many other bacalhau dishes all over the city but if you're wanting to give one or many dishes a try, we recommend visiting Time Out Mercado da Ribiera. It's an incredible indoor food market and the perfect place to try lots of different foods from lots of different stalls - you'll find starters, snacks, mains, desserts and drinks of all shapes and sizes. There's something for everyone!
When we think of Portuguese food, we often think of seafood and miss out on some of the gorgeous meat dishes available. Enchidos include a variety of different Portuguese sausages including Chouriço (similar to the more famous Spanish chorizo), linguiça (a thinner, more garlicy sausage), morcela (a little like black pudding) and many others. These can be boiled, grilled, fried or even cooked in flames.
You'll often find these sausages listed under petiscos - Portuguese tapas. They're great for snacking during the day (with or without a glass of wine) and their smaller size often means they're good size portions for children. Some of our favourites can be found at Da Prata 52 where you'll find plenty of petiscos for the whole family.
An ideal lunch to wander around Lisbon with, A bifana is an extremely tasty traditional Portuguese sandwich filled with pork marinated in spices and garlic. They're the ultimate Portuguese comfort food and are cheap to boot - making them a great snack on the go for any family in Lisbon.
Casa das Bifanas is always filled with locals and their regulars despite being on one of Lisbon's famous historic squares and it's no wonder when they have some of the best bifanas in the city. They also have a beef alternative if any of your family aren't pork fans. They have different prices whether you sit inside or outside and service is pretty slow but the bifanas are definitely worth the wait!
If you happen to be closer to Café Beira Gare - consider heading there instead, that's the closest rival to Casa das Bifanas in my eyes.
Not something we often eat at home, it might also seem a little strange that I'm suggesting eating canned fish when fresh seafood is available everywhere in Lisbon. That said, when in Rome... and there is a reason canned sardines are so popular in Lisbon - they're simply really great!
You'll even find gourmet and boutique shops around the city selling their own high quality tins. They make a great souvenir and even better snack, check out Mundo Fantástico das Conservas Portuguesa or Loja das Conservas to learn more and buy some yourself.
Psst - if you're looking to try some fresh sardines in Lisbon, visit between June & October (otherwise the sardines will be frozen!) and head to Farol de Santa Luzia in Alfama - you won't regret it. It's a family-run restaurant and perfect for all ages.
Ginjinha (Adults only!)
One for the adults but one not to be missed. Ginjinha is a delicious Portguese liqueur made from ginja berries and sugar. It's super sweet, often served in a chocolate shot glass and makes you feel very warm and fuzzy inside.
You'll find ginjinha practically everywhere in Lisbon. From grannies selling it on the street to rustic tapas bars to high-end restaurants - you name it, it'll be there. You can buy bottles of it as well - these make great souvenirs or presents and traditionally you'll be able to see the berries inside the bottle too!