This Iconic City In Portugal Is One Of The Best Foodie Destinations, Per Rick Steves

Go-to travel expert Rick Steves has a suggestion for food lovers looking for a European destination: Lisbon. On his website, Steves refers to the capital of Portugal as a "charming city proud of its tasty delicacies and heavenly wines." Lisbon is well-known for "pastéis de natan," also called "pastel de nata," egg custard tart pastries that date back to the 18th century. Monks at Jerónimos Monastery near Lisbon had an excess of egg yolks since they used the whites to help starch their clothing, and they came up with a way to put them to good use — making them into tasty tarts. 


Reportedly, you can only find the tarts made with the monks' closely guarded secret recipe in a single place in Lisbon: Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. However, Steves enjoys the tarts from Manteigaria Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata. It's the only thing it makes — any place with that level of specialty must be doing something right — and he recommends eating them as soon as you get them before they have time to cool. Lisbon itself has numerous other culinary delights to offer visitors.

Lisbon's massive food market serves a range of dishes

Along with trying Lisbon's traditional tart, Rick Steves recommends visiting the Mercado da Ribeira. "At a trendy food circus like this, eating on disposable plates and at long, noisy picnic tables is far from romantic," he said, "but the quality and prices are unbeatable." The historic food market first opened in 1892. While Steves adamantly continues to call it by its more traditional name, it's also known as Time Out Market.


In 2014, the "Time Out Lisbon" assembled what they felt were the city's best chefs, food purveyors, and culinary artisans into one place. The market now consists of a combination of a farmer's market with fresh ingredients for sale on one side, open from 6 a.m. until early afternoon, and prepared food stalls on the other, open from 10 a.m. until late. The food stalls range from fresh seafood dishes to steak to desserts. That makes it the perfect place to go no matter what type of food you enjoy — if you stay in an Airbnb or a Vrbo, you can get some ingredients and cook for yourself or pick up a ready-made meal.

Sample Portuguese alcohol and consider taking a food tour

Portugal has a long tradition of winemaking, and Rick Steves suggests going to a wine bar to taste some regional tipples while pairing them with a charcuterie spread of local meats and cheeses, great for taking on a picnic or enjoying on-site. He particularly likes the Lisbon Winery for its food, wine, and atmosphere: "Along with its quality local cuisine, this wine bar has cork walls, a 500-year-old cistern under glass flooring, and traditional fado music playing in the background; it's a perfect storm of Portuguese culture."


Portugal's alcohol extends beyond wine. The country makes "ginjinha," a sour cherry liqueur, which Steves has called a "quintessential taste of Lisbon," on his website. The city has a number of small bars dedicated to serving the sweet drink exclusively.

To get a fuller picture of the dining options in Lisbon, Steves recommends going on a food tour — he went on one with Inside Lisbon and got a chance to try some of Portugal's specialties, like "carne de porco à Alentejana" (pork, potatoes, and clams) and "bacalhau" (dry, salted cod). Food tours are also a great way to get to know the city's different neighborhoods. Whether you travel to Lisbon for the first time or the fiftieth, let Steves guide you to some of the city's best food options.