I was recently in Portugal – one of my favorite places in Europe. When we talk about food and good wine, this is definitely the place to be. There are so many delicious dishes and sweets to try.
Exploring Lisbon – history, fado and good food
Lisbon is an amazing city with so much charm and atmosphere. It’s so pleasant to take a walk through the small streets of Alfama – the oldest neighbourhood in the city, close to the center. The streets are tight and very steep and you are surrounded of beautiful colorful buildings. There are Portuguese tiles everywhere you look. Some buildings are completely covered with them.
Alfama is one of the places where fado restaurants pop up in front of you in every corner. Don’t miss visiting a fado restaurant, I’m sure you would love it. Even if you are not a fan of this typical Portuguese music, you can just notice the passion they sing with. And you don’t even need to understand the lyrics, just close your eyes and listen. Just pick up one of the hundreds restaurant you can see on the way. And remember that some of them require reservation beforehand.
We visited The royal fado restaurant that we found a couple of blocks away from the cathedral Sé de Lisboa. It’s a small restaurant with a couple of tables and at 20 o’clock they start with the live performance. The food and the service were good, but the show was definitely the best part. The wine was great, but a little pricy, so you might think first before ordering a bottle.
The restaurant that I would recommend in Lisbon is Bellalisa Elevador, just next to the top exit of Elevador de Santa Justa. They have a good menu with a lot of fish dishes. I tried the salmon with shrimps and white wine sauce and it was vert yummy. Another dish that is worth trying is my favorite Bacalhau à Bras. They also make pasta and risotto if you prefer something more familiar.
If you like wine, try the rose Mateus from Madeira. It’s light, fruity and makes a perfect combination with the fish.
Enjoying Portuguese sweets
When visiting Portugal, you cannot even think of missing the typical dessert – pastel de nata. You can find it everywhere and most bakeries make it very good.
If you are in the top center, just visit Alcoa, located at Rua Garrett in Chiado area. It’s a small coffee shop that offers a huge variety of sweets. There are no tables, but you can stand and enjoy a cup of Portuguese strong coffee with a pastel de nata or any other sweet treat of your choice.
In case you have more time, catch the tram and head to the place, where the original pastel de nata was made for the first time (although they call them pasteis de Belém there). The place is called Pasteis de Belém and offers about 400 places to sit inside. I can tell you, before trying my first pastel de Belem, I thought they were all the same. I couldn’t be more wrong. Even if the sweets look the same on the outside, the taste differs so much and the original is much better than all copies out there.
Pasteis de Belém is a bakery where they hold the original recipe for the famous cakes. They say that only six people know it and the people making the custard are closed behind a door where nobody else has access. It’s not weird that people wait in line to take orders away. As I said, you can sit inside, order pasteis de Belém and delicious cappuccino or just take some home with you. The cakes will taste amazing even hours after you bought them. But never buy just one per person. Trust me on that one. After trying one, you will be disappointed if there is no other to follow.
Historical places to visit in Lisbon
- Mosteiro de Jeronimos
- Torre do Belém
- Praça do comercio
- Castelo de São Jorge
- Padrão dos Descobrimentos
- Elevador de Santa Justa
- Rua Augusta
- Sé de Lisboa
- Bairro Alto
- Oceanário de Lisboa