Lisbon – Part 2

We’re back for part two! Lisbon was so incredible that it was impossible to fit into one blog post without overwhelming you and that is the opposite of what this is supposed to do! So here we have what to eat and where to eat it. I said in the last blog that most of the things I’ve written about are based on my own experiences. I don’t want to be writing about, never mind recommending things that I haven’t done myself. However, I also said that I immediately knew that I hadn’t given myself enough time in Lisbon so after all the food talk, I’m also going to include the things that I still want to do in Lisbon that I will just have to go back for.

What to eat and drink


Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for cod but in a culinary context, specifically refers to dried and salted cod. Bacalhau is so ubiquitous in Portuguese cuisine that some people say that there are at least 365 ways of preparing it, a different way for each day of the year, and up to 1,001! Portugal loves fish but it is mostly served fresh. Bacalhau is not fresh because cod is not actually found off Portugal’s coast but brought in from near Newfoundland.


Another very popular fish is sardines! They are linked to Lisbon’s patron saint, Santo Antonio, which is why they are eaten during the festival of Santo Antonio in June. There are canned sardine shops all over Lisbon but the best time for fresh sardines is from June to October. Recently, the prices of sardines have gone up massively because of a drop in population due to climate change and overfishing.


Bifanas are Portugal’s answer to a pork sandwich, a bread roll filled with a marinated pork cutlet. The meat is cooked in garlic, white wine and a few spices but served very simply. There are some variations on the bifana depending on where you are in the country but the version that I ate was the simple roll and pork with some added yellow mustard, a common combination in Lisbon and the south. They are a cheap and quick option, often eaten standing at the bar in the restaurant. A good recommendation for bifanas is As Bifanas do Afonso or read on to see where I ate.

Pastéis de nata

I’ve already mentioned these a little but pastéis de nata is Portugal’s national pastry. It’s an egg custard pastry tart often topped with cinnamon, crunchy, buttery pastry with a smooth, creamy custard and (hopefully, for me) a little burnt and crunchy on top. It was first created in the monastery in Belém. They were using a lot of egg whites to starch clothes and the egg yolks were often used to make cakes and pastries. In 1820, the monastery started selling the tarts to raise money in a moment of financial uncertainty. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and the monastery had to close. The secret recipe was sold to a local businessman who opened Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belém and to this day, nobody quite knows what’s in their pastéis! My favourite places to get pastéis de nata were in Belém and also Pastelaria Santo Antonio in Alfama.

Ginja / Ginjinha

Ginja, or ginjinha, is a sour cherry liqueur made from aguardente, brandy or fortified wine, and a little cinnamon. Ginja also refers to the fruit itself which is known as a morello cherry in English. I was welcomed to Home hostel (at 11am!) with a small measure of ginja but they warned me that it’s not a shot! Much like the Italian liqueur grappa, ginja is meant to be sipped. A new twist on ginja is that in the past few years, many street sellers have started to serve ginja in little chocolate cups!

Vinho verde

Vinho verde, or green wine, contrary to popular belief is not actually green in colour! Vinho verde is not restricted just to white wine but can also be rosé or red. It translates better as young wine as it is bottled three to six months after harvesting. It refers not to a particular type of grape but to the process which sees it harvested, bottled and drunk sooner in the process than most other wines. There used to be something in the process that gave the wine a slightly fizzy quality, something usually seen as a fault but appreciated by the consumers of vinho verde. It is now added by artificial carbonation. White vinho verde is usually fresh, fruity and floral and goes well with fish which is often on the menu in Lisbon!

Where to eat and drink

O Zé da Mouraria Mouraria

This is my number one recommendation for where to eat in Lisbon! It might even be my number one full stop. If you only listen to one thing from this blog or the previous one, let it be this. After the first walking tour that I did in Mouraria, our tour guide Zé suggested going for lunch as a group. Eight of us were up for it so we headed back to a restaurant that he had pointed out to us at the start of the tour as one of his favourites in the city. It was hidden away up a side street near Praça Martim Moniz, you would barely know there was a restaurant there, never mind one with such good food

We gave Zé free reign to order for us which was definitely the right decision. Unfortunately, we got there around 2.30 and they were already out of the bacalhau which is almost their signature. If you go, try it for me! Instead we had cuttlefish with boiled potatoes, parsley and a garlic sauce, tuna steak with more potatoes, mushrooms and tomatoes and veal in a creamy peppercorn sauce. The veal was good if you got a nice piece but some pieces were pretty chewy but the tuna steak was fantastic. I think it’s the first time I’ve eaten tuna like that and it was incredible. Just note that the portion sizes are huge! For nine people, we had the three main dishes and two portions of chips. You can get half portions but I would still say a half portion would be more than enough for two people. To finish, we shared a few slices of bolo de bolacha, biscuits soaked in coffee and covered in cream. It tasted a bit like tiramisu without the liqueur.

Tasca do Chico

Tasca do Chico is a fado house in Bairro Alto. I talked about the history of fado a bit in the last blog but what is it like to experience fado? I say experience because you don’t just listen to fado, it is something you feel. Even if you can’t understand the lyrics, like I couldn’t, the feelings of melancholy and longing still come through. There is a word for this feeling, saudade, although it encompasses much more than just that and is considered untranslatable by many people.

Tasca do chico is a more informal fado house. It’s not so much somewhere to eat but fado goes well with a beer or a glass of red wine (although there are snacks on the menu). Most fado houses are very small and this one in particular is very popular so we had to queue for a while to get in. The seating is pretty cramped and even once we got inside, it wasn’t a guarantee that there was somewhere to sit. Beyond the chaotic seating plan, there is also a particular etiquette in a fado house. When the music is about to start, the lights go down and the doors are closed. Usually the fado singer will do two or three songs in a row and you cannot talk while they are singing. If you do, you will definitely be shushed and maybe even asked to leave.

Casa das Bifanas

On my final night in Lisbon, after a walking tour in the morning and a trip to Belém, I was tired and in need of a little alone time. I love travelling by myself because I get to meet so many new people and gather friends all around the world. At the same time, I’m someone who needs a good amount of alone time which can be hard to find in a busy hostel and a shared dorm. I knew that I had lots of friends in the bar of Home hostel when it came to dinner time but I decided to slip out with just my book for company and find them for some drinks after dinner.

I still had one culinary experience left on my list that I still wanted to try before I left and that was a bifana. A friend had recommended a place called As Bifanas do Afonso which was actually really near my hostel but I was having a late dinner and it was already closed. Fortunately I had a back up recommendation from my walking tour guide, a place on Praça da Figueira called Casa das Bifanas. This meal was a great achievement because I managed to get through it all in Portuguese! (Other than asking if I could sit outside in Spanish…) It was mostly understanding what the waiter said to me and one word answers but still! The bifana was great, nothing fancy but flavourful and filling, served with chips and a beer on the side.

Pastelaria Santo Antonio

Found in Alfama, just below the castle, Pastelaria Santo Antonio is perfectly placed for a pastel de nata pit stop after wandering the hilly streets. If you don’t make it out to Belém to try the pasteis from the original vendors at Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belém, then this is a good back up plan as they were crowned the best pastel de nata in 2019! You can also try their other specialty, the croissant Porto, an enriched dough more like a brioche and glazed in port, a fortified wine from the north of Portugal.


This is where I ate after my second walking tour with the tour guide Zé and a few others from my hostel. If you are looking for somewhere to eat after visiting the feira da ladra flea market, this is right in the midst of it. It’s nothing fancy, nothing pretentious, just decent food! I had bacalhau à brás, like a cod fish cake made with scrambled egg and shredded potato with a side salad. I think it was the most vegetables that I had had since arriving in Portugal as most of the dishesI had didn’t involve a lot of veggies. After we had finished eating, we were trying to get the bill but apparently they can be quite slow (something to bear in mind). I didn’t mind too much because while we waited the charismatic waiter brought us some glasses, lemon slices and a dodgy looking water bottle filled with amaretto – on the house! We had to squeeze a good amount of lemon juice into the glass and then top it up with amaretto and it was delicious!

The Wish List

That’s the end of where I went, what I did and everything I ate in Lisbon! But as I’ve said before, I definitely didn’t give myself enough time and I’m already desperate to go back to Lisbon and Portugal in general. Below are some of the things that are on the list for when I make it back, hopefully in the not-so-distant future. Obviously I haven’t done these myself so can’t attest to them but hopefully it gives you some ideas and you can go and test them for me if you end up there before me.

Tram 28

This is one of the classic activities in Lisbon, the iconic trams are somewhat a symbol of the city. Tram 28 starts at Praça Martim Moniz and goes through the districts of Alfama, Baixa, Estrela and Graça and passes some of the main sights in Lisbon like the cathedral and Portas do Sol. I didn’t take the tram because I walked everywhere but it was also packed! There were long queues at Praça Martim Moniz so be prepared to wait but if you get on at any other stops, it’s unlikely you’ll get a seat and you’ll have to stand. Get on at the front, off at the back and buy a ticket in advance or top up your metro card if you want a cheaper ticket. If you want to avoid the crowds, try and ride early in the morning or later in the evening but whatever time, be aware of pickpockets!

Tram 12 and 28

Ascensor Santa Justa

Another classic of Lisbon, elevators in Lisbon are generally considered public transport in Lisbon, a way to navigate the many ups and downs of the city. Santa Justa is the most well-known one but using it will involve a long queue and paying €5. However, if you want the views but not the wait and are willing to brave some stairs, head around the back and walk up to the viewpoint at the top!

Castelo São Jorge

The castle is a dominant figure over Lisbon so if I was back in the city and had a bit more time, I would like to visit it. I heard from people from Lisbon though that if you’re short on time, there are other things to prioritise.


Sintra is number one on my list of things for next time. I actually almost went because Home hostel where I was staying runs a day tour there but it wasn’t running one of the days I was there and was full the other day. Sintra is most known for the Palácio Nacional da Pena, a gorgeous structure with vivid red and yellow walls. There are several other castles and palaces to see in Sintra as well as the gorgeous hills of the Serra de Sintra. Not too far away are the Cabo de Roca cliffs which are the most westerly point of mainland Europe and some nice beaches.


Cascais is another town outside of Lisbon, somewhere between Sintra and Belém, and is apparently a coastal gem. There are cliffs and beaches galore and is the perfect place for a few chill days.

Over the water

A recommendation from my tou guide Zé was to get the ferry over to the other side of the river and walk along the coast towards the bridge. There’s also a restaurant over there called Ponte Final which is supposed to be nice for a drink, some food and views back over to Lisbon. You can carry on walking along the coast until you get to the bridge where you get the lift up to the level of the town and get a bus back over.

LX Factory

LX Factory is an old industrial complex that has been transformed into a trendy spot filled with bars, restaurants, shops and offices. It’s a cool spot to grab a drink and hang out with friends in the evening. It also has a big bookshop so I will definitely be back!


There are some interesting sounding museums in Lisbon that I’d like to check out like the Fado museum, the tile museum and the Aljube museum of resistance and freedom.

Estufa Fria Botanic Gardens

As I’m writing this blog, I have a friend (Aine of Une Bouchée A Day) who is in Lisbon and she sent me these gorgeous photos from the botanic gardens! Definitely added to the list!

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