Budget Food and Drink in Lisbon
Traditional food in Lisbon, as well as throughout Portugal, is home-style simple, tasty and inexpensive. Below you will find a small educational “program” on some dishes of Portuguese cuisine and a selection of places where to eat in Lisbon city that would be tasty and cheap.
Street food and markets
Considering the fact that Portugal is a relatively inexpensive European country, here you can find good qulity food with any wallet – on any budget.
Pasteis de Nata – sweet tartlets
In Portuguese “pasteis” is any small pastry, but in the tourist environment – this is exactly sweet egg tartlets.
Lisbon cuisine tour should start with a traditional meal, which is “pasteis” tartlets.
These plain cakes were invented by Portuguese monks in the early 19th century, however, they did not start selling desserts in the city from a good life. At the time of the Portuguese revolution, many religious orders were expelled from the country, the monasteries were closed, and those that remained completely lost at least some financial support from the state.
Therefore, the monks were forced to seek some income on the side, and this was the “birth” of unpretentious, but very tasty cakes.
They are sold in “pastelaria” – small bakery pastry around the city. They cost around 1-3 € per piece.
It makes no sense to advise you to visit any random Pastelaria (because there are dozens of them all around the city). Instead, you must go to one in particular – the birthplace of the original recipe, inherited from the monks. These monks started selling their pastries in the years between 1820 and 1830.
It is called Casa Pasteis de Belem, and there you can buy not only pasteis (including gift wrapping), but also local marmalade, other pastries, Portuguese and port wine.
Address: R. Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal
Schedule: open daily from 8 am to midnight
Cod croquettes Pasteis de Bacalhau
Italian mondechili and arancini, Dutch bitterballen, now Portuguese cod pasteis are all from one food range.
This is another very simple quick-and-easy dish with a win-win combination of ingredients. Pasteis de Bacalhau is made from potatoes, salted cod, eggs, parsley, and onion. You get very tasty homemade croquettes from everything that was on hand and there is no way you could spoil them.
Such croquettes are popular in central and southern Portugal, especially in Lisbon. They are served in any cafe of Portuguese cuisine, sometimes even in supermarkets like “Continente” or “Pingo Doce”.
Honey cake Bolo de Mel da Madeira
This spicy, almost black cake with honey, nuts, cloves, anise, and almonds comes from the island of Madeira, which has been the main producer of cane sugar and honey for more than 600 years. Locals bake this cake at home by December 8 (Immaculate Conception Day), but it is available all year round in stores.
A half-kilogram cake costs about € 8-10, and a serving will cost no more than a couple of euros. Remember that, according to local tradition, it is impossible to cut it with a knife, only to break it with your hands.
One of the most popular places to try Bolo de Mel is the “Merciaria Creativa” store.
Address: Av. Guerra Junqueiro 4A, 1000-167 Lisboa, Portugal
Schedule: Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 20 pm, on Friday to 23 pm
Travesseiro de Sintra
The name of the next representative of the Portuguese bakery translates as “big pillow.” Apparently, it comes from the shape of a dessert – it is a rectangular pie with almonds and egg cream.
For the first time, this dessert began to be prepared at Casa Piriquita in Sintra at the end of the 19th century, but now travesseiro is also sold in Lisbon bakeries, for example, at Confeitaria Nacional.
Although if you are in Sintra, still look at Casa Piriquita.
The average cost of a travesseiro is 1.40-2 €.
Address: R. Padarias 1, 2710-533 Sintra, Portugal
Schedule: closed on Wednesdays, on other days from 9 am to 8 pm
Gelato – Gelado in Portuguese
It can be long and pointless to argue about where gelato tastes better – in Italy, in Spain or Portugal. No one will be right, because ice cream is delicious everywhere.
Lisbon loves Santini’s, which over the years has turned from a simple ice cream parlor into a pastry shop with its own online store!
So you can order yourself a kilogram or two of ice cream right to your hotel or a rented apartment during the evenings after exploring Lisbon or Porto.
Here is the address: www.santini.pt
Mobile Diner Tasca Itinerante
An old van that is located two minutes from Marquês de Pombal metro station turned out to be the best place to go for a quick and inexpensive meal in Lisbon.
No, seriously :) In this little mobile diner, they sell savory pastries, sandwiches and other quick lunches that consist of seafood and cheese. You can also try the Portuguese beer and wine if you do not expect to go to a specialized wine shop that evening.
The cost of meals – 3-7 €.
Address: Parque Eduardo VII, 1070-051 Lisboa, Portugal
Mercado Campo de Ourique – Local Food Market
In a nutshell, the Mercado Campo de Ourique is a mini-version of the main Ribeira market in Lisbon, but there are fewer tourists and that is why the locals love it much more. If you love to cook during a trip – feel free to buy here fresh local products, and if you do not have time for cooking, you can have a snack here at the snack bars as well.
Address: R. Coelho da Rocha 104, 1350 Lisboa, Portugal
Schedule: Monday-Thursday, Sunday from 10 am to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 1 in the morning.
Organic Farming Market – Mercado Biológico do Principe Real
Street and market food do not necessarily mean high-calorie pastries and other fat/sugar dishes. Go to Principe Real market, where Portuguese jam, homemade olive oil, fruits, and vegetables from suburban farms will be waiting for you.
And very close to the wine shop Garrafeira Internacional – you can buy home port wine, Madeira and ginja (cherry liqueur).
Address: Praça do Príncipe Real, 1250-096 Lisboa, Portugal
Work schedule: on Saturdays from 9 to 15
In general, it is difficult to describe what the tapas are. It can be sandwiches, and salads with grilled meat – all that can be served as a snack for beer or wine. Both tourists and locals themselves are very fond of Chef Felicidade – Pharmacia – a restaurant-bar, which is located in the building of the Lisbon Pharmaceutical Museum.
The cost of dishes – from 4 € to 16 €, on the menu – meat, fish, soups. In accordance with the theme of the neighboring museum, some dishes are served in different cones and beakers. And in the summer on the terrace, it offers a magnificent view of the river.
Address: R. Marechal Saldanha, 2 1200-012 Lisbon, Portugal
Schedule: daily from 12:30 to midnight
Fish and seafood
The main dishes of the Portuguese cuisine are based on seafood and fish, especially on the groats – dried and salted cod, from which almost several hundred dishes are being prepared. Before cooking, the fish is almost always soaked to wash out all the salt.
In Portuguese, by the way, bacalhau is just “cod”, but now this word means salted and dried fish, because it is not found in Portuguese waters, and all cod comes from Scandinavian countries just in dried and salted form. Portugal is the number one cod consumer in the world.
But in the tourist center of Lisbon, a good seafood restaurant is really difficult to find. However, there is one win-win option – Último Porto in the port of Lisbon right on the river Tejo. Full dinner costs about 30 €. The restaurant has 2 terraces, one of which is being heated in winter.
Address: R. Gen. Gomes Araújo 1, 1350-352 Lisboa, Portugal
Schedule: Monday-Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm.
In addition to the traditional Portuguese cuisine, a steak takes the last position on the menu which includes very few meat dishes. Although the same steak is more influenced by Brazilian cuisine than something originally Portuguese since in Portugal there is practically no breeding of beef cattle.
However, the dish really deserves attention – meat is soaked in wine and is being grounded with olive oil, and then marinated in a wine sauce with spices.
The most famous places to try such meat are Cafe de Sao Bento and Sabor Mineiro.
Full dinner for one will cost 25-35 €.
Address: Cafe de Sao Bento – R. de São Bento 212, 1200-821 Lisboa, Portugal; Sabor Mineiro – Av. José Malhoa 16D, 1070-020 Lisboa, Portugal
Schedule: Cafe de Sao Bento – Monday-Friday 12: 30–14: 30, 19–2, Saturday-Sunday 19-2; Sabor Mineiro – daily 12: 30–15: 30, 19–23: 30.
My personal top tips when choosing the best most inexpensive restaurant.
Regardless of the things, you might have heard about Portugal cuisine and how good and amazing it might be, it is always better to Google the place beforehand. I encourage you to make a little bit more effort and ask a local to advise you since their tips will always be right and you will never be disappointed.
Enjoy your stay!