Of course I researched on what to eat when in Portugal before my trip and looked up for some of the places to go and dine at for that truly local experience. For me, getting to know a country through its’ history will bore me but discovering it through food excites me.
My taste buds are not used to Portuguese flavors due to the lack of it in my home country. The closest encounter would be Peri-peri flavoured chicken in Nandos.
What to eat in Portugal
Pastéis de natas
These are my favourite and probably is on top of my list as it is the only familiar flavour I have tasted. These are Portuguese egg tarts and they have these almost everywhere. The best one is supposedly found at Pastéis de Belém but honestly you can get good ones almost everywhere. What probably makes Pastéis de Belém the best could be because of their 100 year old recipe which has the right amount of sweetness and crispiness.
Salada del Polvo
I’m not a fan of octopus because it is usually chewy in texture which makes it quite unpleasant. It is quite tricky to get the right amount of texture before it gets to this unbearable rubbery stage and I am honestly very impressed that I did not eat a single rubbery octopus in Portugal. Usually served cold as a starter, I tried their grilled option in TimeOut Lisbon and think it’s pretty good as well!
Bolinhos de Bacalhau
Deep-fried cod fish fritters. I used to think highly of cod fish until I saw it being merely used for fritters in Lisbon like nobody’s business. You’d think that they would make something fancy out of cod fish but people here seem to have gone in the opposite direction since it is widely available here.
Expect to bite into a savory fritter which has a thin crispy layer and soft inner filling. A super popular dish here and one you should definitely not miss.
Here’s the real deal cod fish which is almost a staple in their diet or at least something very popular. There’s a few cooking method for it and here’s the sinful one of them all, deep-fried and served with chips.
Thank you Nandos for introducing me with piri-piri chicken and also setting the benchmark so high. Funny enough it is seen as a Portuguese dish but it isn’t even that famous in Portugal or even originates there.
If you must know, Portuguese food is slightly bland and almost pale in comparison with Asian spices. Essentially, their take on piri-piri chicken is a roasted chicken which has been lightly salted.
If you search online, Café Bonjardim would come highly recommend and that was exactly where I went. Please don’t come here with high expectations as it will taste nothing like Nandos and surprise, they do not have a single bottle of piri-piri sauce.
This goes without saying as it’s located right beside the ocean, there’s aplenty of seafood options there – fresh, grilled, baked, deep-fried and more!