Must Try Foods in Portugal

Octopus at Romaria de Baco in Sintra

1. Roasted/Grilled…Any kind of Octopus – We must have had octopus at least once a day during our two week trip to Portugal. The best octopus meal we ate was in the fairytale town of Sintra. Octopus isn’t something we see on the menu very often at home, so we took every opportunity to try various versions of this Portuguese specialty, from roasted to grilled to octopus salad.

  • Romaria de Baco, Sintra
  • A Praça, Lisbon (LX Factory)
Seafood rice at Aleluia Restaurant Esplanada, Nazaré

2. Seafood Rice – Our first dish of seafood rice was in the small fishing town of Nazaré, which is a little over an hour north of Lisbon. Walking along the main road facing Nazaré Beach, we found a quaint little restaurant serving this seafood specialty from a large pot overflowing with crab, lobster, shrimp and fish. This was the first of several versions of this dish that we tried during our Portugal travels.

  • Aleluia Restaurant Esplanada, Nazaré
  • 5 Sentidos, Cascais
  • Beerhouse, Funchal

3. Pastéis de Nata – The creamiest egg custard pastry flavoured with a hint of vanilla, cinnamon or lemon. Each bakery has their own variation of the secret recipe originally created by the monks at Jeronimos Monastery.

  • Pastéis de Belém, Lisbon (Belém)
  • Manteigaria, Lisbon (Barrio Alto)
  • Pastelaria Alfama Doce, Lisbon (Alfama)

4. Canned Fish (sardines, mackerel, cod) – We ended up leaving Portugal having spent about 50 Euros on various types of canned fish. For us, this was the perfect souvenir to remember our time in Portugal. The canned fish in Portugal is nothing like the canned fish from home. In Portugal, delicate fillets are placed by hand in baths of olive oil and light seasoning before being wrapped in colourful vintage wrapping.  

  • Conserveira de Lisboa (Alfama)
  • Mangerico Alegre, Lisbon (Alfama)
Bacalhau on toast at Maruto

5. Bacalhau (Cod) – It is said that the Portuguese have 365 recipes for bacalhau, one for every day of the year. It is hard to imagine that the stiff, hardened pieces of salted cod seen in the Portuguese grocery stores can be rehydrated back into a delicate flaky fish but somehow the Portuguese have mastered this trick. We will have to plan a return trip to Portugal to try the other 362 recipes for bacalhau.

  • Bacalhau on toast with tomato and arugula at Maruto, Lisbon (Alfama)
  • Pasteis de bacalhau at Mangerico Alegre, Lisbon (Alfama)
  • Bacalhau “A Lagareiro” (cod with mashed potatoes and sauteed turnip shoots) at Alexandre Silva at the Time Out Market in Lisbon
Enjoying the view from Topo Chiado

6. Beer – A light, refreshing cold beer on a hot day while sitting at one of Lisbon’s many Miradouros enjoying the views…sounds like heaven to me. Sagres, Super Bock and Coral should be enjoyed at any of these locations:

  • Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Lisbon
  • Topo Chiado, Lisbon
  • Barreirinha Bar Cafe, Funchal
As Bifanas Do Afonso, Lisbon

7. Bifana pork sandwich – We could not stop talking about the bifanas we had at a tiny standing room only restaurant on the edge of Alfama. We would fly back to Lisbon just for another bifana. Served on a perfect Portuguese bun, you could add as much mustard and piri piri oil to suit your taste. Simple, cheap, satisfying.

  • As Bifanas Do Afonso, Lisbon (Alfama)


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