The most typical dishes from Lisbon (and where to eat them)

From petiscos and finger foods, to typical salted cod dishes and hearty meat or seafood stews, not forgetting the indulgent repertoire of sugar and egg yolk loaded Portuguese desserts, the collection of traditional Portuguese food is rather vast for such a small country!

Portuguese cuisine is regional with distinct characteristics depending on the area of Portugal. The local history, the topography and influences of the people who have come and gone all over the country during centuries, have shaped the Portuguese way of cooking and eating.

Today we focus on Lisbon’s culinary heritage, highlighting the dishes which have been developed in the Portuguese capital. Even though you may find any of these all over Portugal today, just like you can eat all sorts of regional recipes in the restaurants across the city as well, these are the most iconic dishes created in Lisbon itself.

Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato

Being so close to the ocean, the cuisine of Lisbon has decidedly been influenced by the Atlantic. As such, fish and seafood are staples of the local diet. The clam dish amêijoas à Bulhão Pato is considered one of Portugal’s best seafood dishes and one we often cook during our group classes at Cooking Lisbon. Many won’t know that, unlike other recipes which end up taking the name of its creator, these saucy clams were named as a tribute to poet and renowned foodie Raimundo António de Bulhão Pato (1828-1912). But let’s be honest: amêijoas à Bulhão Pato have much more potential to make Portuguese folks hungry than awaken our literary sides! The recipe was developed around 1930 at Estrela de Oiro restaurant, which used to have its doors open in Rua da Prata in Lisbon. Even though some restaurants today also add white wine to the preparation of clams Bulhão Pato style, the original recipe is indeed very simple: the clams are cooked with a little garlic infused olive oil, lemon and lots of coriander, which is used during the cooking process itself, as well as a generous garnish for serving. Simple yet very elegant, this tangy Portuguese clams recipe is a must-try when you visit Lisbon!

Where to try ​​in clams Bulhão Pato style Lisbon:

Cervejaria Ramiro

📍Av. Alm. Reis 1 H, 1150-007 Lisbon

Cervejaria Pinóquio

📍Praça dos Restauradores 79 80, 1250-188 Lisbon

O Palácio

📍Rua Prior do Crato 142, 1350-263 Lisbon

Peixinhos da horta

We have an entire article dedicated to the history of peixinhos da horta, and how these battered and deep-fried green beans are the Portuguese predecessor of Japanese tempura. Peixinhos da horta, just like many Portuguese finger foods, originated in Lisbon. This has to do with the fact that the first public establishments for food and drinks opened their doors right at the capital. At the beginning, particularly during the 19th century, taverns and drinks dispensaries started propagating all over the city. Even though these were drinks only shops, initially to buy to take home and later on to drink at the shop itself, business owners soon saw an opportunity to up-sell and started selling food. The food sold at taverns was basically one pot stews with whatever was available on the day, as well as appetizers which would help soak up the alcohol, inspiring customers to order one more round. One of these finger foods was peixinhos da horta, which consists of runner beans coated with a simple batter of wheat flour and eggs, deep-fried to golden perfection. A good serving of peixinhos da horta will feature a fairly light and crispy batter, not too oily or heavy, with an inside of beans cooked through yet still with a slightly al dente crunch to them.

Where to try ​​peixinhos da horta in Lisbon:


📍Rua de O Século 242, 1250-095 Lisbon


📍Inside Time Out Market Lisboa, ​​Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479 Lisbon

Coelho da Rocha

📍Rua Coelho da Rocha 104, 1350-075 Lisbon


Not to be mistaken with pastéis de bacalhau, pataniscas are flat codfish fritters typical from Lisbon. Pastéis de bacalhau are egg-shaped salt cod fritters prepared with mashed potato and shredded cod, typical form the northern Minho region where they are usually known as bolinhos de bacalhau. Pataniscas, the southern cousin of this fritter, were originally developed in Lisbon and while they also feature shredded cod, their batter is thickened with wheat instead of potatoes. The first written recipe for pataniscas dates back to the 19th century as part of the book A Arte do Cozinheiro e do Copeiro (“the art of the cook and pantry keeper”) by the viscount of Vilarinho de São Romão. Since then, traditional pataniscas (also known as pataniscas de bacalhau) are made with shredded salt cod, onions, eggs and flour, seasoned with salt, flour and lots of chopped parsley. These flat fritters are cooked until golden, with a slightly crispy exterior and soft and moist insides. Pataniscas can be eaten by themselves as a snack, or as a main meal traditionally served with soupy rice preparations such as arroz de feijão, that is, red kidney beans rice. If you’re going to eat pataniscas in a truly old-school way not many do these days, ask for a sandes de patanisca, that is a patanisca sandwich, with the fritter tucked inside a bun, which is a rare treat still available in taverns like A Merendinha do Arco in downtown Lisbon.

Where to try ​​pataniscas in Lisbon:

A Casa do Bacalhau

📍Rua do Grilo 54, 1900-706 Lisbon

Food Corner Marlene Vieira

📍Inside Time Out Market Lisboa, Av. 24 de Julho, 1200-479 Lisbon

Adega da Tia Matilde

📍Rua da Beneficência 77, 1600-017 Lisbon

Meia desfeita

This Lisbon dish is linked with the bohemian lifestyle of taverns and eateries of the previous century. Also called ​​meia desfeita de bacalhau, this recipe was born in the neighborhood of Mouraria and it is still enjoyed all over the country. Meia desfeita can either be served warm or at room temperature, and it includes shredded cod, chopped onions, hard boiled eggs, chickpeas, and parsley. Sometimes, olives will also be a part of the dish, if nothing else as garnish. Meia desfeita with cod is drenched in olive oil, seasoned with white wine vinegar or lemon juice for tang and, depending on the cook, may also include a subtle touch of ground piri-piri. The name of this dish translates as “half undone” or “half mess” and it refers to the half portions of this mixture which were often ordered with drinks back in the day.

Where to try meia desfeita ​​in Lisbon:

A Tigelinha

📍​​Calçada Santana 62, 1150-306 Lisbon


📍​​​​Av. Afonso III 69A, 1900-041 Lisbon

O Moisés

📍​​Av. Duque de Ávila 121, 1050-083 Lisbon

Ovos verdes

There aren’t many typical Portuguese foods suitable for vegetarians, but peixinhos da horta above and ovos verdes are some of them. “Green eggs” consist of deep-fried hard boiled eggs… but there’s more to it! After boiling the eggs, they are cut into halves and the yolk is removed and mashed along with finely chopped parsley, seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Each half of the egg is coated with breadcrumbs and fried until crispy. This is a way of enhancing an otherwise plain boiled egg, which you will still see these days served atop coarse salt in some of the most straight-up of Lisbon’s taverns, like for example A Tendinha do Rossio. The Portuguese answer to delivered eggs was born in Lisbon and it can be served as a snack on its own, or as a main dish with sides like rice and salad.

Where to try ​​ovos verdes in Lisbon: