Farah's Insider Guides
As Portuguese wine, food and textile importers, our team at Farah Trading Co is split between the US and Portugal - with lots of travel in between. Our team members on the ground in Portugal have put pen to paper to give you Farah's Insider Guides to Portugal. From visiting Lisbon to the beaches of the Algarve to the wineries of the Douro Valley - we have you covered!
Category Travel / Published: August-17-2021
Farah Trading Co's wine and travel writer Joana here - Today we are biting into the city’s dining out and drinking out scene - not to miss restaurants, our favorite roof bars and wine bars and tips to eat out in Lisbon like a local! And, we end our post with some of Lisbon's not to miss traditional foods.
Here in Portugal, we are passionate about food; we’re passionate about cooking, eating, talking about it - and everything in between. We’re the kind of people that love having lunch while discussing what we’ll have for dinner.
It is no surprise that the country's capital city of Lisbon has an incredible food, wine and cocktail scene. And with its fabulous weather outdoor dining is plentiful. From traditional neighborhood restaurants, to trendy new wave hot spots - Lisbon has something for everyone. Just make sure to leave enough room for dessert!
WHAT TIME DO WE EAT OUT AT IN LISBON?
We Portuguese eat lunch between 12:30pm and 2pm and then dinner around 8pm/9pm. You'll find locals going out for a drink at around 10pm or 11pm. Many locals frequent bars until around 1am or 2am and after that, if you're still in the mood for fun, you can hop into a dance club -they stay open until around 5am or 6am!
HOW BIG ARE PORTIONS AT RESTAURANTS?
We’re big eaters, which means Portuguese restaurant portions are quite generous, so as a rule of thumb always consider asking one portion for two people.
DO PEOPLE TIP IN PORTUGAL?
People always ask me what is customary for tipping in Portugal and the truth is there is no rule in Portugal. I know it is customary to tip a certain percentage in the US but that is not the case here. It doesn’t mean we don’t tip or that you shouldn’t – you should, if you want to. If you feel you’ve received a good service and you’re happy, you should tip! How much? Totally up to you but 10% is more than appropriate.
DO I NEED TO ASK FOR THE BILL?
At restaurants and bars, once you’re ready to go, ask for the bill – you won't get it unless you ask!
5 Amazing Lisbon Restaurants to Try
Farmers market turned into the coolest food court in the city! Here you can taste dishes by Portuguese renowned chefs, typical cuisine with a spin, have a drink or just enjoy a quick snack. My advice is to get a few dishes from different spots in the market and then share them at one of the large tables. Curious about the wines of Lisbon? Try the Wines of Lisbon Store located in the Time Out Market- it is a tiny little shop containing a plethora of wine from Lisbon’s unique wine region, right outside the city limits.
Seafood, seafood seafood! You’ll find a crowd of people waiting outside, drinking wine and beer waiting for a table at this iconic Lisbon eatery which was one of the late Anthony Bourdain's favorite places to eat in Lisbon. When you get in, get ready - you will be served either beer or wine alongside big platters of fresh and cooked seafood. You’ll think you can’t handle dessert, but the experience isn’t whole without it – at Ramiro, the traditional way to finish a meal is with a prego (a beef sandwich with mustard).
This wonderful, picturesque, restaurant is on the other side of the bay from Lisbon, perched above the water with an incredible view of the bridge and the city. You can get there via a 10-minute ferry ride across the Tagus from the Cais de Sodre station to the Cacilhas stop. Or, it is a quick drive over the bridge. Awaiting you are traditional dishes and lots of seafood.
This is a tiny restaurant in Mouraria that is mixing tradition and modern cuisine. Chef Leopoldo Garcia Calhau only uses the best products and producers to bring authentic flavors to the table with a feel of traditional Alentejo. To top things off it is also an olive oil and wine shop. So if you have the time, just talk with the staff and owner and let them wow you with a surprise menu.
Tucked down a quiet side street this very traditional seafood restaurant is a winner with travels and locals alike. Casual, yet top notch seafood and a delicious wine list. Unpretentious and delicious - make sure to get the seafood rice - arroz de marisco!
Arroz de Marisco is one of my favorite Portuguese dishes. Don't mistake this dish for paella - Arroz de Marisco is a soupy, rice - seafood stew usually cooked in an individual pot big enough to feed two.
Our Top Lisbon Wine Bars
This is probably one of the best wine experiences you will get during your stay in Lisbon. They don’t serve anything cooked, so prepare yourself for an array of cheese and charcuterie plates as well as delicious finger licking canned goods. All the products are made in Portugal, both wine and food, and you better believe they own all the perfect pairings within the +500 wines within the bar (yes, they have over 500 wines). Make a reservation in advance and give yourself at least 3 hours to complete a meal – also, make sure you ask all the questions to the owner as he loves to talk everything about wines.
It opened as Lisbon’s smallest wine bar. It’s all about natural, organic, biodynamic and low intervention wines from small independent producers. The staff is great and they’ll have a nice little menu of snacks to go with the wines too. Sitting inside will be difficult but the bar is right by a nice little square where you can sit and enjoy it all.
Natural wine has taken the wine world by storm and Lisbon is no foreigner to this concept. At Sr. Uva, you’ll find a tiny little place filled with the most interestingly curated natural wine list in the city. It has a plant based food menu. - something not super easy to find in the seafood loving city of Lisbon. Sr. Uva embodies sustainability and offers wine from the small and unknown wine producers.
Lisbon is notorious for its light and its views - one of the best ways to enjoy the city is is sipping a glass of wine on one of its many rooftop bars.
Our Top Roof Bars in Lisbon
The location alone is a selling point - the hotel’s rooftop has a privileged view over the city and a direct sightline to the castle – it is a hard one to beat, for sure! It is frequented by tourists and locals alike and has a solid bar food menu and a crowd pleasing menu of wine, cocktails and beer.
Entretanto is a panoramic bar located at its namesake Hotel’s 7th floor. The view is incredible and it has a solid wine list and snacks menu that combines tradition with a modern inspiration.
Topo Chiado is a rooftop bar and restaurant located smack in the center of Lisbon's Chiado neighborhood. The bar is hidden behind the ruins of convent Convento do Carmo. It's view so magnificent, sun loungers were recently added so you can stay, relax and enjoy both the view and the sun for as long as you want.
Must Try Lisbon Foods
Each region of Portugal has its own regional food, ranging from petisco appetizers, to regional cheeses, to main dishes, making discovering Portuguese food an endeavor that could take a lifetime. Lisbon is a melting pot of Portugal, so here are some staples that can be found across Lisbon.
- MEIA DE LEITE café au lait (Portuguese coffee is comparable if not superior to Italian!)
- PASTEL DE NATA: arguably Portugal's most famous treat, this custard tart is light, bitesize and just enough to make you want more. Check out our full post dedicated to exploring this famed treat!
- RISSOIS = fried pillowy pockets of leitão (baby pig), legumes (vegetables) or camarão (shrimp - Farah’s favorite!); ask for them served quente (hot) in bakeries and traditional restaurants
- AÇORDA = hearty and flavorful bread stew; try the seafood açorda de marisco
- ALHEIRA = sausage made of bread, poultry and garlic to resemble pork sausages so the Jewish diaspora could hide their identity from persecution since the late 16th century
- PASTEL DE FEIJÃO = sweet bean pastry
- TARTE DE AMÊNDOA = buttery almond tart and broa de mel = dense cookie made of carob, spices, nuts and honey; these traditional sweets worth branching out from the infallible cinnamon-sprinkled Portuguese pastel de nata!
- ZAMBURIÑAS = small scallops
- PERCEBES = goose barnacles
- NAVALHAS = razor clams; these are Portuguese seafood staples to try along with ...
- BACALHAU COM BROA = Farah’s favourite of Portugal’s 365 cod recipes, encrusted in corn bread
- POLVO A LAGAREIRO - tender, braised octopus seasoned with lots of garlic and olive oil; remember, one portion of food in traditional Portuguese restaurants can usually serve two!
- SOPA DO DIA = soup of the day served with lunch in traditional restaurants; caldo verde is Farah’s favorite!
- MELÃO = ripe honeydew melon served by the slice for a fresh summer dessert
- BORA DE AVINTES, MILHO and PÃO D'ÁGUA, PÃO DE CENTEIO = carob, corn, white, whole wheat flour breads
- QUEIJO DA SERRA = thistle-cured mountain sheep cheese
- QUEIJO DE CABRA APIMENTADA, REQUEIJÃO = spice-rubbed goat cheese, fresh ricotta-like cheese enjoy it with ...
- MARMELADA = quince paste for dessert!
Curious about the wines of Lisbon? Try the Wines of Lisbon Store located in the Time Out Market- it is a tiny little shop containing a plethora of wine from Lisbon’s unique wine region, right outside the city limits.
We hope you enjoyed these insider tips! Cheers - The Farah Team