Ok here’s the second entry of my Lisbon trip, the one alllll about food: where to eat and what to eat. I selected my favorites from the trip – there were a lot more, trust me.
First things first – a restaurant that we wish we had discovered the first day because the tapas were on point: Tapa Bucho! Not only are their tapas amazing but they have this oxtail sandwich with a cheese sauce that is incredible. We went to tapa bucho our last night in Lisbon and spent about 36 euros for 5 tapas, 2 glasses of wine and one oxtail sandwich. The place is small and cozy, the service is quick and the food is some of the best we had in Lisbon. It’s at the top of the Bairro Alto neighborhood (and the surrounding streets are a little sketch) but Tapa Bucho is worth the trek!
In Bairro Alto there’s this hole-in-the-wall bar, near the exit of the metro, which doesn’t seem like anything special. That is, until I was looking for a place to grab a quick sandwich for lunch and found out that Anthony Bourdain had stopped at this hole-in-the-wall and raved about their Bifana. Bifana, we discovered, is a pork sandwich, cheese optional but recommended, on great crispy bread. The pork is sliced thin, it’s dripping with juice and when you splash on some spicy piri-piri sauce, it’s heaven in mouthful. We initially ordered one each, but soon realized that we needed another one.
There’s another spot to eat in Bairro Alto called Casa Da India, which we frequented twice during our time in Lisbon. Don’t be fooled by the name – it serves no-fuss portuguese food. The first night we sat in the restaurant, which is always bustling up until closing at 2am. They have a huge grill in the front window so as you walk by you can see the fresh fish, chicken and squid charring over an open fire. (If that doesn’t stop you in your tracks, I don’t know what will.) Anyway, the second time we were feeling less social, so we decided to get a whole grilled chicken to take back to our apartment. It was amazing – seasoned perfectly and juicy. I highly recommend this option if you’re staying in the area because you can throw on your PJs and gnaw on some drumsticks in the privacy of your apartment. Food is great, prices low – though I recommend starting with the half-portions, which are pretty normal-sized. We got grilled fish, sausage, both with sides and water for 14 euros. Budget traveler’s dream!
Outside of Bairro Alto there are two places that I want to mention: one in Belem and one in Sintra. In Belem, we decided to explore the residential area for lunch options, where we found the Sandwich bar A Torre. We soon realized this sandwich bar was very typical place for locals, with lots stopping by in their uniforms for a quick bite during their lunch break. We grabbed a table outside and ordered the plate of the day – fish or chicken with a side and water for 5 euros! We couldn’t believe it. The waitress was accommodating, despite the language barrier and the food looked and tasted home cooked, not pre-prepared.
In Sintra we stopped in this café called Saudade (nostalgia in Portuguese) and had some great pastries. The two typical pastries of Lisbon are the Pasteis de nata and the Pastel de Tentúgal. Both have an egg cream filling, though the Pastesi de Nata is more like a crème brulee with a filo-crust, while the Tentúgal is like a braided, doughy pastry filled with the cream. Both are delicious and the ones in Saudade were especially good after a long day of walking with a giant cup of tea. Close to the train station and very large (so there’s never a wait), Saudade offers everything from cold and hot sweet and savory plates to little trinkets for your house. Recommended if you’re spending some time in Sintra.
Finally, if you want to bring some of those delicious Lisbon sardines home with you, stop in the Conserveira de Lisboa by the Cais do Sodre train station. They have tons of different companies that are all heralded for their sustainable fishing and packaging practices. Prices range from 2 to 6 euros per tin, and the wrapping paper of certain companies makes a great bookmark even after the sardines are long gone.