A Lisbon Food Tour & Cultural Walk with Taste of Lisboa

A Lisbon Food Tour & Cultural Walk with Taste of Lisboa

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Food, glorious food.  Food in Lisbon is amazing, and although Portuguese cuisine is not as well known as it’s Spanish neighbour, the flavours, produce and local dishes available here are good enough to rival any top foodie destination.  To learn more about the food in Portugal and where to eat the best food in Lisbon, I contacted Taste of Lisboa to see if I could join one of their cultural food tours in Lisbon.  They suggested their Downtown-Mouraria Food and Cultural Walk which was in a part of Lisbon renowned for Fado, a traditional form of music in Portugal.  I was excited to join their Lisbon food tour for lots of tasty food and to learn something at the same time!

I received a complimentary tour in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own and I maintain full editorial control over the content published.

Food in Lisbon is amazing, and although Portuguese cuisine is not as well known as it’s Spanish neighbour, the flavours, produce and local dishes available here are good enough to rival any top foodie destination.  To learn more about the food in Portugal and where to eat the best food in Lisbon, I contacted Taste of Lisboa to see if I could join one of their cultural food tours in Lisbon.  They suggested their Downtown-Mouraria Food and Cultural Walk which was in a part of Lisbon renowned for Fado, a traditional form of music in Portugal.  #Portugal #Europe #Food #FoodTour #PortugueseFood #Lisbon #LisbonFoodTour

We met our guide Catarina at the memorial in São Domingo’s Square, on a cloudy and damp afternoon in Lisbon.  I was pleasantly surprised to find I wasn’t the only solo female traveller on the tour.  For me, food tours are a great alternative to dining alone when I’m travelling solo and a lovely way to meet local people and fellow travellers as well as eating lots of tasty food!  This tour was no different, but Taste of Lisboa’s food and cultural walks differ from a ‘typical’ food tour because they include much more information about the local area, culture and community.  When we met Catarina, she explained how the tour would work, and the awful history of the square where we were.  Throughout the tour Catarina shared more information about Mouraria, Fado and the history of Lisbon, as well as taking us to some fabulous foodie stops.  

Sao Domingos Square where we met for our Cultural Food Tour in Lisbon
Sao Domingos Square where we met for our Cultural Food Tour in Lisbon

Our first stop was a foodie’s dream.  A delicatessen selling fresh fruit and vegetables from a display outside, and inside it was a treasure trove of cheeses, cured meats, pates, oils, wine and bacalhau.  Bacalhau is salted cod, most of which comes from colder seas around Iceland and Norway.  The Portuguese developed a taste for salted cod during the days of exploration across the oceans when they needed protein which would keep for months on the long voyages.  These days, cod is an obsession. 

Our Taste of Lisboa Guide Catarina explaining the cheese & meats at our first stop
Our Taste of Lisboa Guide Catarina explaining the cheese & meats at our first stop

We didn’t taste any cod here though, despite the piles of it for sale.  Instead, we tried some olive oil and pata negra cured ham.  The ham is from a certain breed of pigs, which feed on acorns to give the cured meat a special flavour.  It was melt-in-the-mouth delicious. 

Pata Negra cured ham and bread (with Olive Oil)
Pata Negra cured ham and bread (with Olive Oil)

Before I came to Portugal I hadn’t really considered that olive oil has a flavour, and that flavour can change drastically depending on the quality of the oil.  The cold pressed olive oil we tasted with fresh bread was smooth and mellow, a perfect accompaniment to the ham.  One of the other women in the group was vegetarian so we also got to try some creamy soft cheese with walnuts as well. 

A Fabulous Food Shop - The First Stop on our Lisbon Food & Cultural Walk
A Fabulous Food Shop – The First Stop on our Lisbon Food & Cultural Walk

It wasn’t long before cod made an appearance on our tasting trail though.  Our next stop was a small café which claimed to have the ‘best codfish croquettes in Lisbon’ – a bold statement indeed.  I had realised by this point that most restaurants in Portugal claimed to have the best whatever in the city, country, or even universe.  I don’t know how anyone could claim they have the best anything in the universe without going to the effort to try out of this world examples of the dish, but anyway, Catarina said that she had tried a lot of cod croquettes in Lisbon, and that these were indeed the best ones in Lisbon, that she had tried at least.  They were pretty good, but without more diligent research I can’t confirm or deny their claim!  The croquettes were served with a tomato rice side dish wish was very tasty too, and a glass of vinho verde, Portugal’s green wine.

Codfish cake and tomato rice with vinho verde
Codfish cake and tomato rice with vinho verde

We continued our food and cultural tour with another Portuguese typical dish – a bifana.  These sandwiches are made from fresh bread buns, filled with grilled meat, in most cases pork.  The little restaurant we went to used to sell charcoal in the days before electricity, then when the demand for fire-power declined in the city, they decided to use the excess coal for barbecuing.  And the tradition continues, with a menu of simple grilled meats, as well as traditional soups and cheeses which we also sampled, and other simple, delicious food.

A Bifana - A typical grilled pork sandwich
A Bifana – A typical grilled pork sandwich

We ventured into the neighbourhood known as Mouraria.  Mouraria is famous for being the home of Fado, a traditional type of Portuguese music often involving mournful singing and guitar playing.  All around Mouraria we could see the influence of Fado, from the street art portraits of famous Fado singers, to tunes playing in the bars, restaurants and homes we passed. 

Entering the Fado Quarter in Mouraria on a Lisbon Food Tour
Entering the Fado Quarter in Mouraria

Mouraria also had fabulous street art.  There was a street filled with portraits of famous Fado singers, and several colourful murals we passed portraying everything from day to day life to Fado and the challenge of immigration in Europe.  There was also a street which had photographs of the local people who lived there, including their names so you could get to know the locals even if you hadn’t met them in person!

The Queen of Fado - Street art in Mouraria Street Art in Mouraria

Continuing with the food and drink tastings, our next stop was a bar.  It wouldn’t be a real food tour if there wasn’t any booze, and although we’d had wine at most of the stops before, a shot of sour cherry liqueur was just what we needed on a chilly evening.  We ducked out of the rain into a tiny bar, where the owner serves up ginjinha – literally meaning ‘small ginja’ shots of liqueur made from cherries into plastic cups which we gladly imbibed.  Fado music drifted out of the speakers and posters from fado performances filled the walls, alongside photographs of the owner throughout the years.

Ginjinha - Sour Cherry Liqueur on our Food Tour in Lisbon
Ginjinha – Sour Cherry Liqueur

Tinned fish used to be one of Portugal’s top exports, but that fell out of favour and many of the tinning factories closed down.  In the last few years though, tinned food has been making a comeback.  There are now several restaurants in Lisbon which specialise in tinned fish and seafood.  I must admit, I was sceptical, not usually eating much tinned fish apart from tuna.  However, the delicate fish drizzled in olive oil served on crunchy toast with a tang of raw onion and herbs was much tastier than I expected!

Canned Fish is Enjoying a Renaissance in Portugal
Canned Fish is Enjoying a Renaissance in Portugal

Another dish I didn’t expect to eat on a Portuguese food tour was the samosa we tried at our next stop.  You may be wondering (as I did) what the hell a samosa is doing on a food tour in Lisbon, but Catarina explained that in Portugal’s period of empire, explorers travelled to Africa, and Mozambique was under Portuguese rule for many years.  This restaurant serves up Portuguese and Mozambican food, a fascinating blend of cuisines which is definitely delicious!  I washed down the samosa with a glass of cashew fruit juice, a taste I recognised from my time in Belize, where cashews also grow.  

A Tasty Samosa, Washed Down with Cashew Fruit Juice
A Tasty Samosa, Washed Down with Cashew Fruit Juice

We ended our cultural food tour at a popular bakery, where we had our obligatory pastel de nata.  I love these things, crisp, flaky pastry tarts filled with sweet custard and a sprinkling of powdered sugar or cinnamon on top.  I lost count of how many I’d had in Portugal, and actually, I’d popped into this bakery the day before as I’d heard their pasteis de nata were the bomb.  And that they were!  With our group, we sat upstairs, and Cristina explained the history of this famous Portuguese dessert, from the monks in Belem creating the first recipe, to the thousands of bakeries churning out millions of them every day, which are devoured by willing locals and visitors alike.

Delicious Pasteis de Nata
Delicious Pasteis de Nata

What I loved about Taste of Lisboa Food & Cultural Walks

I loved the variety of places we visited.  Each of the seven stops was unique in their own way and were mostly tiny cafés and restaurants which I never would have gone into myself.  The cultural parts of the tour were really interesting too, and it was fascinating to learn about the history of Fado in the area, and new street artists giving names and personalities to the people who live there. 

I hadn’t been to the Mouraia neighbourhood before the tour, and I suspect it often gets overlooked by visitors who stick to Barrio Alto and only come here to visit the castle.  There is so much history here – and great food! – I’d urge anyone coming to Lisbon to explore. 

A Mural in Mouraria Celebrating Fado & The Local Community
A Mural in Mouraria Celebrating Fado & The Local Community

Anything I Didn’t Like?

At first I found the tour a little slow-paced; we spend quite a long time at the meeting point, where Catarina went through all the stops we were going to visit and what we were going to eat – for me that wasn’t necessary, and kind of spoiled the surprise so I’d be happy to skip that part and just see each one as they come.  However, once we were on the move there was a better balance between walking, information and tasty food!

Would I Recommend Taste of Lisboa Tours?

Most definitely!  I’ve taken a lot of food tours around the world, and I am consistently pleased with the quality and variety of food, and with all the interesting information the guides share.  Yes, you can go for a meal by yourself, but joining a food tour is so much more rewarding!

A Bottle of Ginja Cherry Liqueur
A Bottle of Ginja Cherry Liqueur

Where to Stay in Lisbon

Hostels in Lisbon

I stayed at the fun and friendly Good Morning Hostel Lisbon which is in a great location by Restauradores underground station.  This is probably the best place to stay in Lisbon for solo travellers, with a daily happy hour including free sangria and beer, and lots of fun events and social dinners.  Rooms are clean and spacious, and the staff are all fabulous.  Read my full review of Good Morning Hostel Lisbon here or book it now.  You can also find other hostels in Lisbon on Hostelworld.

BOOK YOUR HOSTEL NOW

Hotels in Lisbon

For hotels in Lisbon, check out Casa Amora Sao Mamede Lisbon which is slightly out of the centre but very highly rated.  Casa do Barao is in Barrio Alto and also gets excellent reviews – and has a swimming pool to enjoy.  You can find other hotels in Lisbon on HotelsCombined.

FIND A HOTEL NOW

Airbnb in Lisbon

I came back to Lisbon for another few days after visiting Porto, but this time I stayed in an Airbnb in the Barrio Alto.  This area of town has TONS of bars and restaurants, and is a really popular area to stay in.  You can find all the options for Airbnb in Lisbon here, including the place I stayed which was small but perfect for one person.

If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $40 credit to use on your first trip!  Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code and my full Airbnb guide or click below for your Airbnb coupon.

GET $40 AIRBNB CREDIT

Have you taken a food tour in Lisbon?  What did you think?  Any more recommendations for where to eat in Lisbon?  I’d love to hear your tips, please leave your comments below.

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Food in Lisbon is amazing, and although Portuguese cuisine is not as well known as it’s Spanish neighbour, the flavours, produce and local dishes available here are good enough to rival any top foodie destination.  To learn more about the food in Portugal and where to eat the best food in Lisbon, I contacted Taste of Lisboa to see if I could join one of their cultural food tours in Lisbon.  They suggested their Downtown-Mouraria Food and Cultural Walk which was in a part of Lisbon renowned for Fado, a traditional form of music in Portugal.  #Portugal #Europe #Food #FoodTour #PortugueseFood #Lisbon #LisbonFoodTour #Foodie #FoodinLisbon

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Last updated: March 5, 2019
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10 thoughts on “A Lisbon Food Tour & Cultural Walk with Taste of Lisboa

  1. Taking a food tour when you’re traveling alone is a great tip to avoid dining alone! I love that Taste of Lisboa brings you in at the ground level so you really understand the culture and community in addition to the cuisine. Those bifanas look absolutely delightful!

  2. Food tour in lisbon sounds amazing, i have been to Porto but not Lisbon but I think its about time to book that flight to Lisbon, reading this and looking at the sumptuous food makes me hungry plus a great day photography finding street arts is perfect!

  3. I love these cultural food walks and I am glad you too enjoyed yours. Indeed surprising too see the samosa making an appearance here and informative to also know a bit of its history! Thanks for this informative and interesting post 🙂

  4. What else can one expect from a Lisbon food tour than absolutely delicious bites? Is it strange that the samosa and Pasteis de Nata appeals to me most? It must be because of my South African heritage where versions of these are national dishes. The street art in Mouraria looks great. And I love the idea of looking at pictures of the locals to make you feel right at home.

  5. Wow tempting dishes each. I was not aware of the Mozambique connection to samosa, they are hot fav of Indians. Those fresh bread buns look very filling. Missed out on such a good food tour while I was in Lisbon.

  6. We absolutely loved the food in Portugal. We ate our way around the cities we visited. But a food tour looks like a good idea. Especially if you want to get more information about the local culture. We loved spots with Fado music for entertainment. We were actually surprised at how little cod we ate. We tried Ginja first in Lisbon. But it was so much better when we stayed in Obidos. I need to go back! Miss the nata tarts so much.

  7. So glad you ended your food journey with Pasteis de Nata. They are the perfect ending. I ate about 10 a day when I was in Lisbon. Which bakery did you go to?

  8. Food tours are one of my favorite ways to discover cities. There’s usually a lot of history and culture tied to the traditional foods and I find that fascinating. I haven’t been to Lisbon, but I have been to Porto and the north. I think I need to do a food tour because I was not impressed with Portuguese food. I felt like all we had was rice dishes. And I could probably do without the canned fish. But I keep hear people raving about Portuguese food, so I need to give it another try.

  9. The food tour does seem to showcase a variety of flavors. However, what I think I loved was the way you have caught the street art. Some of those pieces like the black and white portrait is just awesome. Almost as if someone has pasted a photograph on the wall.

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