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What to Eat in Lisbon

Lisbon is among the easiest cities in Europe to find a good, affordable meal. This is true for breakfast, lunch, dinner and any meal in between – even in many tourist districts. If you’re on a budget, it’s possible to experience the best of traditional Portuguese food for less than 30 euros per day, per person. For a veritable smorgasbord of all the city’s cuisines, head to Time Out Market. Located in the Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre, the food hall is filled to the brim with a variety of vendors selling everything from sushi to wine to Iberico ham. You’ll encounter crowds anytime you go, but past visitors said it’s worth it.

Lisbon also has a cosmopolitan restaurant scene, and you can find just about any type of cuisine around town. For Portuguese haute cuisine accompanied by two Michelin stars, try Belcanto; for a family-run seafood joint, try Cervejaria Ramiro. The Portuguese have cultivated a rich seafood diet, and you can find fish and shellfish on most lunch and dinner menus. Bacalhau (salted cod) is an especially popular traditional Portuguese dish. But it’s an acquired taste, so you might want to consider a backup option if you’re not feeling adventurous.

Another Lisbon specialty to try? Pasteis de nata. These tasty custard-filled pastries are everywhere in Lisbon. Eaten for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or both, pasteis de nata are full of sugar and satisfaction. The most famous ones can be found at the Pasteis de Belém (in the district of the same name), which began selling them 200 years ago. Lisbon also has its own alcoholic drink – ginjinha – a fortified wine made with cherries and sugar. For short, you can call it “ginja,” and you should try it at the hole-in-the-wall A Ginjinha near the Rossio metro station.

Discerning foodies in the know also rave about the city’s Chinese food. Called Chinês clandestinos, these restaurants are mostly family-run outposts that are set up in the homes of local Chinese residents. You’ll find them stowed within apartments in Mouraria, the city’s immigrant enclave. Most don’t have names and are only identifiable by their addresses. Keep your eyes peeled if you’re in the area of Rua do Benformoso, Rua da Guia or and Rua do Capelão.

When it comes to coffee, the Portuguese know how to enjoy it more than just about anyone else. Whether in the morning or afternoon, you can find Lisboetas packed into cafes. Don’t assume cafes or “coffee shops” are necessarily limited to coffee, however: Affordable wine, beer, pastries and even full meals are available. It’s pretty easy to find a beer for less than 1 euro, for example, even in some touristy cafes.

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