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Culinary Backstreets: Lisbon Eats Essentials – Lisbon, Portugal

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Blessed with some of the world’s best fish and seafood off the coast and the bounty of rich farmland inland, the Portuguese are spoilt for choice of great culinary resources. The cuisine of Lisbon, which draws from a diverse range of influences hinting at Portugal’s glorious trading past, is always based on the simple principal of supreme ingredients and a simple preparation that allows those ingredients to shine. On this half-day tour, we set out to find some of the best examples of local cuisine that Lisbon has to offer.

Our walk will begin at Lisbon’s greatest market, the Mercado da Ribeira, with a crash course in the building blocks of Portuguese cuisine. Visiting some of the market’s old-time fishmongers, produce sellers and butchers, we will explore the roots of Portuguese cuisine and then, in the market’s bustling central hall, sample some of the “fruits” of these ingredients, tasting rustic cheeses, top quality cured ham made from acorn-fed black hoofed pigs unique to the Iberian Peninsula, artisanal breads and local olive oils.

We’ll then set out to visit some of the time-honored establishments in the neighborhoods around the market. We’ll go for traditional savory pastries on the rooftop canteen of a nunnery. We’ll stop into an old, family-run grocery to try some top shelf tinned sardines – unlike any canned seafood you may have had before, this is superb – accompanied by a glass of vinho verde, the unique effervescent white wine from Northern Portugal.

At our next stop, the reincarnation of an old neighborhood institution that Lisboetas – as Lisbon’s residents are known – have been flocking to for generations, we’ll try the restaurant’s locally renowned cod fritters along with other meaty house specialties, paired with the distinct red wine from Alentejo. From there we will end the day on a sweet note, stopping in a local pastelaria for traditional pastries, before finishing with a few sips of ginjinha, a sour cherry liqueur beloved by locals and whose sweet flavor is yet another essential element that defines Lisbon’s culinary identity.

In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – more than half a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price.  A limited selection of alcohol is served on the walks and is included in the price.

  • Price: $95 US/person; $110 US/person on weekends. Fee includes everything consumed on the walk
  • Group Size: 2-7
  • Start/End: 10:30am-2:00pm; 5:00pm-8:30pm Sundays
  • Duration: about 3.5 hours

More Info & Reservations

Culinary Backstreets offers additional tours in Lisbon, as well as tours in many other cities around the world.

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One Response to Culinary Backstreets: Lisbon Eats Essentials – Lisbon, Portugal

  1. Food Tour Finder October 4, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    Célia Pedrosa, who organizes these tours, is a food writer and author of the book Eat Portugal. Needless to say, she’s a great authority on Portuguese cuisine! This tour begins at the Ribeira Market, which is actually divided into a traditional market and the Time Out Market, home to prepared food stalls. I did the tour on a Sunday evening, when the traditional market was closed, so we began with a cornucopia of tastes from the Time Out stalls, which are mostly operated by chefs and vendors with a long history in Lisbon. Célia sat our group at a table and fetched all sorts of goodies, including acorn-fed Iberian ham, amazing fresh sardine sushi, tempura green beans, and chorizo wrapped in sweet potato bread – all washed down with vinho verde wine. Then we headed out to taste a Portuguese specialty, canned fish (but better than you’ve ever had), and afterwards made our way to a trendy cafe operated by local food phenom José Avillez. We had a couple of his creative riffs on traditional Lisbon foods, including a delicious, Instagram-worthy beef-filled pastry. Then we headed off to another restaurant (tucked into an ancient building with a vaulted ceiling) for cod with chickpeas, shrimp in garlic butter and octopus salad. Célia decided we hadn’t had enough to eat so ordered seconds of the tasty cod dish! We washed it down with a bottle of muscat. We visited a bakery that makes only the famous Lisbon mini custard pies called pasteis de nata, and Célia explained the preparation process as we watched the bakers in action. Finally, we ended up at a wine bar, where we tasted two different wines, accompanied by amazing local cheese and olives. Tour stops vary, depending on time of day and day of the week – but rest assured that you’ll have a great tour with Célia (this was my second time touring with her). Highly recommended!

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