So, you’re on the hunt for the best food tours in Lisbon? You won’t be looking long. This is one food-heavy city; one of the most accomplished culinary destinations in Iberia. Ask any local – it’s not often that people go hungry in the shadow of Saint George’s Castle and by the side of the gurgling River Tagus estuary.
Nope, this is the town that brings salt-cod bacalhau and sweet pasteis de nata tarts to the table. It’s a place blessed with access to some of the freshest Atlantic seafood in the world, not to mention the bounty of the fertile Centro countryside – juicy tomatoes, zucchini flowers, organic citrus fruits, and bucket loads of grapes for all those award-winning wines.
To put it another way, the best food tours in Lisbon are your chance to sample a cuisine that’s both famous and always intriguing. It brings together traditional cooking methods from Europe and exotic flavors from India, Africa, and South America. Check out these packages and events for your next foodie trip to the Portuguese capital…
Treasures of Lisboa Food Tours
The Treasures of Lisboa Food Tours is an in-depth culinary adventure through the historic Alfama part of the city. That’s actually the oldest area in the downtown core of Lisbon. It’s all tiny squares and staircases that lead to dead ends. It also happens to be one of the main places to sample traditional Portuguese cooking…
Cue this highly rated four-hour romp around the district. It’s focused entirely on the age-old Centro Portuguese kitchen. That means hits of cold Super Bock beer and country bruschetta with Portuguese tomatoes. It means potent fortified wines and flaming country sausages served straight off the fiery grill.
In all, guests are treated to something like 18 dishes and drinks along the way. That means you won’t leave hungry! Sadly, the tour doesn’t cater to vegans or vegetarians, but it is okay for those on a pescatarian diet, though you’ll have to notify the guide beforehand if that’s you. Also bear in mind that you need to be 18+ to sample the alcoholic beverages that are included.
We love that the Treasures of Lisboa Food Tours isn’t only about devouring local dishes. It’s also about getting to know the area and the local peoples of the Lisbon Alfama. On top of that, all tours are 100% plastic free and limited to small-group sizes for added personality.
The 10 Tastings of Lisbon
The 10 Tastings of Lisbon is a With Locals tour that’s designed to showcase the most quintessential dishes of the Portuguese capital in one swoop. It’s all done on foot, as you’re taken around some of the most historic parts of the city, spotting the lovely medieval cathedral and the lookout points of the Mirador de Sao Pedro de Alcantara as you go.
Don’t worry – there’s plenty of grub to keep you fueled along the way. Ranging from sweet to savory, you’ll taste through a medley of age-old custard tarts and coffees, salted cod pies and grilled fish. The great thing here is that you can tailor the food entirely to personal preferences and dietary requirements, meaning this is one of the best food tours in Lisbon for veggies and vegans without a doubt.
The chow is matched with traditional beverages. They include cocktails and wines but also soft drinks for younger participants. You’ll eat in special locations known only to locals and get insider information on how to customize dishes and the right way to devour certain things. The whole thing lasts approximately three hours from start to finish. Be sure to wear comfy shoes and bring along plenty of drinking water.
Praça Martim Moniz and the Moorish Quarter
If you’re keen to do a self-guided tasting trip, a top destination for one of the best food tours in Lisbon has to be the Moorish Quarter of the city. It spreads down a very steep hillside to the north of Baixa, the main downtown, with some streets that are linked by zigzagging staircases cut straight into the rock. Just as the name implies, it’s the main hub of the Arabic community in the city, but also a top place for sampling cuisine from Portugal’s former colonies in Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
Start off by walking down Rua do Benformoso. It’s the main shopping part of the area that runs at the base of the hill. As you stroll, you’ll meet ramshackle Chinese food shops and bazaars that look plucked from the deserts of Rajasthan. The scents of Bangladeshi thali platters will twist and turn from the windows of the eateries and the aromas of chili and ginger and spice emit from the open doors.
There are some cracking restaurants to sample here if you’re into East Asian cooking. Check out Ghoroa, where tandoor kebabs mingle with balti rice and samosas. There’s also Ruposhi Bangla, which offers platters of paneer curries and dals that are great for veggies.
These days, the whole of the Moorish Quarter and the Praça Martim Moniz square that’s next door is also something of an upcoming food hub for other cuisines. You’ve now got edgy taprooms with craft beer and pub grub, Spanish tapas restaurants, and pizza places that offer wood-fired pies with real mozzarella cheese. You really can’t go wrong.
Time Out Market Lisbon
Okay, so the Time Out Market Lisbon isn’t a food tour per se. But it is one of the most iconic food halls in the whole of Europe, so we think it’s worthy of a place on this list. Basically, you cannot help but embark on a whirlwind of exotic dining when you drop into this self-proclaimed “editorially curated food and cultural market.” It hosts some of the most acclaimed artisan chefs and most eclectic food stalls in the whole city.
What’s great is that the traditional flavors of central Portugal beckon under the very same roof as ethnic eats from all around the globe. You’ll be able to score sweet pastel de nata from a hole in the wall on one side and then get stuck into crispy Romana pizzas on the other.
Here’s a look at some of the top food outlets in the Time Out Market, just to whet the appetite a touch:
- Marisqueira Azul – Maestros of Atlantic seafood offer fresh oysters and shellfish with ice-cold beer, the perfect combo.
- Henrique Sá Pessoa – Get Michelin-quality dishes of Mediterranean veg and fish from this celeb chef.
- Asian Lab – Spicy laksa and zingy Goan curries are the name of the game in this Southeast Asia-themed outlet.
- Zero Zero – Some say the pizza here is the best in all of Lisbon. We’ll let you be the judge of that.
The Time Out Market Lisbon doesn’t just do food to eat on the spot. You can also come here for all manner of food-related experiences. The complex hosts studios where artisan chefs from the stalls offer regular cooking courses. And there are culinary talks given in the main hall during major festival times.
The Feast of St Anthony
Again, the Feast of St Anthony isn’t really a dedicated food tour but it’s just as good. It takes place in mid-June each year and basically turns the whole city into one sizzling mass of sardines. Yep, it’s also known as the festival of sardines, and it’s a doozy of a time to be in town if you’re a lover of fresh seafood and fish.
The historic district of Alfama is the anchor of it all. That’s the oldest part of Lisbon, found spilling down from the stone-faced keeps of Castelo de S. Jorge to the Tagus Estuary in a jumble of colorful cottages and streets so small you can barely get a scooter through them. You’ll start to notice signs of the festival’s imminent arrival almost a week before it all kicks off – in paper-chain decorations strewn over the squares and BBQ grills set up ready for use.
Then it al gets a-going. Thousands of people flood the streets in open parties known locally as arraiais. There’s dancing, there’s drinking, and – most importantly for those on the hunt for the best food tours in Lisbon – the barbecues are fired up and sardines are being cooked on every corner. A plate won’t cos you much at all and it’s the perfect accompaniment to a chilled beer from one of the street vendors.
When the Feast of St Anthony is in full swing, we especially love heading up to the Miradouro da Graça lookout point. It’s a small plaza with sweeping views of the capital and the Tagus in the distance. During the event, it comes alive with bopping jazz bands and sellers touting samosas and sardines until the early hours.
The best food tours in Lisbon – our conclusion
There are all sorts of options when it comes to picking the best food tours in Lisbon. We’ve gone for a mix of self-guided and guided options on our list of the finest five. Some are all about showcasing the cooking of the capital itself, while others are more about Portuguese cuisine more generally. We’ve also thrown in famous sardine fests for the seafood buffs and specific neighborhoods and markets for those looking to go it alone.