Top 10 popular Portuguese dishes you have to try in Portugal
Portuguese food is the best for many reasons. It is delicious and always has the perfect seasoning. All the ingredients and flavours are enhanced. And since Portuguese people love both meat and fish, sometimes they even mix them together, but it ends up tasting real good! Read on and find out my top 10 Portuguese dishes you should try!
I’ve been vegan for a few years now, but today I will write an article for the meat-eaters among you! For those who are vegan or vegetarian, you should read this article, where I share some of the best vegan places to eat in Lisbon, some of them even serve vegan versions of the Portuguese dishes I will talk about in today’s article!
Portuguese dishes are not only about tasty ingredients that go well together. They are traditions and memories. They are about gathering families on sundays. Behind every Portuguese dish, there’s the recipe of a mother, of an aunt, of a grandmother, of a woman. This is one of the reasons Portuguese food is so special.
Here is my top 10 Portuguese dishes you should try!
What is the Francesinha? First of all, you need to know that “francesinha” means “little French girl” in English. The Francesinha was created by Daniel David Silva who’s lived in France for some time. After a while, he came back to Portugal with the influences of the croque-monsieur, which led to the Francesinha. This Portuguese dish is basically a revisited croque-monsieur, a ham and cheese toasted bread sandwich. It is called “francesinha” because it is said that Daniel David Silva said that the French women were the hottest!
So, this Portuguese dish is basically a croque-monsieur, but it has more layers of cheese and meat, then it is covered with a light spicy sauce. It is served with a side of french fries. This dish is very appreciated by the Portuguese, especially in Porto, since it was the pioneer town where Francesinha was born. If you feel like trying this dish while in Lisbon, you can go to the O Tacinho restaurant. The owner of the restaurant is from Porto and brought the Francesinha recipe with him. Located at Rua do 4 de Infantaria, 6, the Francesinha menu costs twelve euros.
Carne de porco à alentejana
Next on my top 10 Portuguese dishes you should try is the Carne à alentejana. It’s prepared with clams, pork, and potatoes diced into cubes to be fried. If you have doubts and don’t know for sure if you want to eat seafood or meat, you should eat Carne à alentejana, which perfectly combines both. This traditional dish is from Algarve, it is called Carne à alentejana because the pork meat was originally from Alentejo.
Try the Solar dos Nunes restaurant, located at Rua dos Lusíadas, 70, it is close to Belém and one of Madonna’s favorite restaurants in Lisbon!
Bacalhau à liberdade
You probably already know that there are countless codfish dishes in Portugal! There are so many recipes and ways to prepare bacalhau. Since the Portuguese are closely connected to the sea, many of their traditional dishes are fish-based.
The bacalhau à liberdade used to be one of my favorites! It is very easy to prepare. The pieces of codfish are fried along with slices of potatoes, then an onion stew with pickles is put on top of it. It tastes really good, and definitely a must-try while in Portugal!
Polvo à lagareiro
Then you should also try the Polvo à lagareiro dish. This traditional dish is Portuguese favorite way of eating octopus. The octopus is first boiled, then goes to the oven along with potatoes. When ready, it is served with olive oil and chopped pairsley. It is pretty simple but tastes delicious!
You won’t have any trouble finding restaurants that serve this traditional dish in Lisbon.
One of the Portuguese dishes you should try is the popular Sardinhas grelhadas, which means “grilled sardines”. During the summer, especially during the month of June, you will find this dish all over the city! You’ll find grilled sardines in restaurants where they’ll be served with a side of boiled potatoes and vegetables. However, if you’re in the city of Lisbon during the month of June, you will get the chance to experience the the Popular Saint celebrations, so I highly recommend you to walk up to the areas of Alfama and try it on the street, as it was originally served centuries ago: on a slice of bread. The Portuguese love it because all the flavorful juices of the grilled sardine soak up the bread. This is a tradition. In Portugal, everyone eats sardines in June!
Bolinhos de bacalhau
Bolinhos de bacalhau are, what we can call, “codfish cake”, round deep-fried dumpling made with codfish and potatoes. This traditional recipe is delicious and has been in Portuguese families for years. Every woman of every family knows how to do bolinhos de bacalhau. So if you haven’t tried the traditional “bolinho de bacalhau“, which is also known as pastel de bacalhau, it is definitely time to do it! In many restaurants, they are served as starters! So you will easily find a place to try them!
Carne assada is roasted meat. The reason why this dish is on my top 10 Portuguese dishes you should try is because it is the Portuguese favorite to gather the family on sundays. If it is properly done, the meat is very tender. People usually choose between veal or lamb. Along with roasted potatoes, it definitely is one of the most traditional Portuguese dishes you will hear about!
Bacalhau à brás
Next on my top 10 Portuguese dishes you should try is the Bacalhau à brás. This dish was actually born in Lisbon, specifically in Bairro Alto. It was created by a wine-bar landlord, called Brás. At least, this is the story that’s been spread.
The bacalhau à brás is very easy and quick to make! The codfish is prepared with eggs and shoestring potatoes at low heat. Simple and delicious, I am sure you will love it!
Pataniscas de bacalhau
Another Portuguese dish you should try is Pataniscas de bacalhau. It kind of looks like breaded fish, but tastes different, since it’s only made with flour and eggs. These are usually served in, what we call, adegas, which can be translated to “winery”. It can be served with tomato rice. You will easily find this dish in Lisbon, as main course but also as starters, as you prefer!
Arroz de marisco
To finish this top 10 Portuguese dishes you should try, I suggest the Arroz de marisco, which is a seafood rice. The recipes vary depending on the region it is made. Shrimps, clams, lobster, mussels, sometimes even monkfish, are some of the seafood you can find in your plate to go with a delicious rice. If you like seafood, this traditional dish is definitely worth the try, because I can guarantee you will enjoy it!
My top 10 Portuguese dishes you should try is now over! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that it has opened your apetite! Portuguese food is full of surprise. If you want to try as many traditional dishes as possible and also want a local to explain all the history behind each dish, you can join our food tour!
Our local guides love their city and they always want to share their passion and show the best places to the visitors so they can experience what the city has best to offer! See you soon in Lisbon!
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further information about anything!
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