Taste of Lisboa review
As you might have seen in our travel guides and blog posts - we care a whole lot about what we eat during our trips. Actually, our food experiences are the most important ingredients to our holidays! We’ve often found that no matter how much restaurant research you do before a trip it’s difficult to find the hidden, local bars and restaurants that aren’t swarmed with tourists. That’s why we love food tours. The concept of the kind of food tours we love is to take you to more local eateries and let you taste the local specialities in places and neighborhoods that you probably wouldn’t have found yourself in. The Taste of Lisboa did just that, and instantly reached our top two of the best food tours we've been to.
We met with our Portuguese guide Filipa in the city centre, where we would commence our 5 hour afternoon tour. We were handed a map with all of the locations that we were going to visit throughout the afternoon and evening, as well as a run-through of what we were going to be eating on the tour. Filipa is a real local. It was clear that she knew every corner of the city, as well as the entire city's history. Filipa started out by teaching us some Portuguese so that we knew the basics when going to the different stops on our tour. Filipa was really bubbly and cheerful, so we instantly knew that she would be a great guide. We truly felt that she loved to show us around in her city to make sure that we would start loving it as much as she did. We had chosen to go on the Mouraria tour, which took us around to Filipa’s favorite eateries in the very local and upcoming Mouraria neighborhood. The tour had six stops with a special story, history and delicious bite and drink to go with each of them. Let us take you through our experience.
1st Stop - Manteigaria Silva
What we had: olive oil, traditional corn bread, Pata Negra ham and red wine.
Just amazing. At this old grocery store, you can find an array of delicacies, including bacalhau, different meats and the genuine Portuguese cheese “Serra da Estrela”, seasoned according to tradition by the owner Mr. José Branco. We were absolutely delighted to start off our tour with some of the best Pata Negra we've ever had, a few glasses of fantastic red wine and delicious corn bread with great quality olive oil. Even though we were given a very generous tasting, we gladly ate every last piece of ham outside the store and had a tremendous time as Filipa taught us about the food culture of Portugal, the origin of Pata Negra as well as many other interesting historical facts about Lisboa and Portugal.
pitstop - GARRAFEIRA NACIONAL
Founded in 1927, this decades-old shop on Rua de Santa Justa is a true wine specialist, and a treasure for any enthusiast. It offers a variety of rare bottles, all of the finest quality. We were told the history behind the store, and demonstrated some very old bottles from the 1700s, as well as some other recent vintages. There are choices for all tastes and budgets, all carefully selected, including Port and Madeira wines. A great little pitstop where we were given a taste of Portuguese winemaking.
2nd Stop - O Buraco Snack BAR
What we had: Codfish cake and Vinho Verde (Green Wine)
The Portuguese love cod (or bacalhau as they call it), and one of the multiple ways to prepare it is in the form of codfish cakes. It's basically a delicious mix of potatoes, cod, spices deep friend to make a perfect crispy outer shell. We were happily surprised by the taste - simple but delicious - and washed it down with a glass of refreshing Vinho Verde. The name literally means "green wine," but translates as "young wine". It may be red, white or rosé, stems from the far north Minho province and is usually consumed soon after bottling. O Buraco Snack Bar, is as local as it gets. It doesn't look like much, but that's kind of the whole deal with a place like this. The locals, who probably go there everyday, meet for some gossip and a simple snack. Filipa introduced us to the owner and the staff, and within five minutes we all felt like locals. Having a native like our guide with you is a game changer, as you really get to understand the culture and the way of life in Lisbon.
3rd Stop - Zé Dos Cornos
What we had: Bifana sandwich, 3 local cheeses and quince paste
We realize we've used the word 'local' like a million times through this review already, but really, this was in all seriousness the most local place we went to! Filipa gave us an intricate story about the history of the establishment (quite funny), the food was spectacular and there were no other tourists in sight. It was really interesting to learn about the different variants of Portuguese cheeses and the by locals (there we have it again) beloved Bifana sandwich. Remember to add plenty of mustard and the red chili sauce on your Bifana sandwich - so yummy!
4th Stop - Tasca os Amigos da Severa
What we had: Ginjinha
This tiny bar is literally a hole in the wall that we would never have found ourselves. Even the walk there was fascinating, as Filipa took us through the Fado area - the place where most fado singers have been brought up. She shared the sad but enchanting history of fado, and took us through a narrow "Fado lane" which beautifully painted portraits of fado singers decorating the facades, until we reached Tasca os Amigos da Serva. This extremely low key, and utterly - sorry, here it is again - local place had the perfect atmosphere for a drink - small, dimly lit and fado music playing in the background. We were introduced to the owner and had a glass of the infamous Ginjinha (cherry brandy) - like having an injection of sweet, promising warmth running through your body. Do not miss this!
5th Stop - Cantinho do Aziz
What we had: Samosas and beer
This stop was as surprising as its food was delicious. The owners are from Mozambique and serve up food that you probably wouldn’t typically have on a trip to Portugal. However, there was a super interesting twist and reason to why Filipa took us to a Mozambiquan food on a Portugese food tour, and it really added that extra spice to the tour. We met the really friendly staff and sat in their backyard, lit up by colorful lightbulbs and had the best samosa of our lives, which we washed down with an ice cold beer and incredible mango juice. Our guide told us about the story of the neighborhood and it’s multicultural inhabitants, which gave us a much better idea of the history of the streets we were walking.
6th and final stop - Confeitaria Nacional
What we had: Pastel de Nata and coffee
You can’t go to Lisbon and not have a Pastel de Nata. We ended up having surely 10 each during our brief stay! These small treats are unbelievably tasty and it’s almost impossible to just have one (remember to sprinkle cinnamon on top). Confeitaria Nacional is an old, classic bakery and serves up some of the best Pastels de Nata in town. The interior and staff's attire makes you feel like you've stepped back in time. Our guide told us about the origins of the Pastel de Nata and why it had become such a big thing in Lisbon. We loved this stop extra much since Oliver got an extra pastel, with candles to blow out for his 29th birthday! Filippas wish to go the extra miles for her guests was really outstanding!
And that was that! And as you probably understand, we ended up very full and content. If you’re going to Lisbon and you love food then Taste of Lisboa should really be #1 on your list of things to do. Our guide, Filippa, made the city come alive for us by telling tales of its history and its inhabitants, and after the tour we saw the city and its people in a rather different light. Sure, you can walk around Lisbon and try all of the things on TripAdvisor and Yelp, but this tour takes you around to places where you get a glimpse into how the locals live. Finally our guide gave us a lot of other recommendations on what to eat around Lisbon for the rest of our trip (incredible tips). We’re sure that you’re going to enjoy this as much as we did. Secure your spots on Taste of Lisboa's website. Happy eating!