What should we eat in Portugal?

Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 07:22 AM
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What should we eat in Portugal?

We will be visiting Portugal in March, primarily Lisbon and Madeira. We know not a word of Portugese. I usually don't have too much of a problem with a menu in German and Italian restaurants, but I am clueless when it comes to Portugese food. What are some of the best dishes to try.....or something you didn't like? What will be seasonal at that time of year?

I did buy a Portugese cookbook so I could become familiar with some of the terms and dishes. And apparently there is a Portugese menu translator App, but I haven't found a handy dandy small menu translator paperback book.
wrenwood is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 07:48 AM
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Frango is the word for chicken. We had the most delicious chicken from a hole-in-the-wall place in Tavira (Algarve).

Paella made with Portuguese sausage is also delicious.

At the bakery, my husband would just point at what he wanted...we never were disappointed by what we ate!

Have a wonderful trip!
seetheworld is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 08:06 AM
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Espetada (grilled beef on a skewer) in Madeira!
iowamom is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 08:15 AM
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You will find that most menus are both in English and Portuguese. All the waiters we had spoke good English in Lisbon and Funchal.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 08:57 AM
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We ate a lot of seafood, delicious soups. Two narional dishes we enjoyed are Cataplana (we had pork and clam), it's actually tne name of the pan it's cooked in and also Shrimp Açorda.
Vinho Verde is a white wine, very inexpensive, nice with seafood.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 09:02 AM
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The only thing on my "must eat" list is fresh grilled fish. It is typically served with simple vegetables and some boiled potatoes. The potatoes in Portugal are fresh and tasty, not like the stuff we get in bags in the supermarket. But the fish -- oh my, whole fish, salted and grilled, it's the best. Whether it's dourada, roballo, emperador, etc. you can get a small one for one person or share. Nothing like it.
lreynold1 is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 09:15 AM
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Pasteis de Nata.....if you are in Lisbon get them at the Pasteis de Belem by the Jeronimos monastery. The perfect blend of sweet, smooth and rich with the cripiest crust....heaven.
denisea is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 09:15 AM
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Another vote for Cataplana. Also, grilled spiced chicken is a specialty afterall its the place where piri piri originates.
stevelyon is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 09:27 AM
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Grilled sardines served with a fresh green salad and boiled potatoes - food of the gods, especially on Madeira.

Meat-eaters will enjoy Espetada - large skewers of seasoned beef steak.

If you need any specific recs for Madeira restaurants I can help (been there over 10 times).
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Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 01:17 PM
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Vinho Verde can also be red.

There is a great place for chicken in Lisbon called Bom Jardim. If you can find it there is a traditional Jewish sausage made of chicken in Portugal called alheira. It is wonderful.

I also enjoyed all the grilled sardines and grilled horse mackerel plus steamed and grilled octopus that are served in no-name places all over Lisbon. I enjoyed eating at seafood restaurants with Mozambiquan cuisine. (There is an upscale one called Ibo near Cais do Sodre in Lisbon).

I also really enjoyed bacalhau a bras but it is not to everybody's taste.

I found bread to be just wonderful from bakeries and I also liked a big watery yellow melon that is often offered as dessert. I don't know the name and it might not be available in March.

I thought coffee was okay but some people love it. Beer is okay and port wine and port cocktails can be fantastic as can a great many wines. I didn't care much for the cherry liqueur served around town

I was meh about Pastels da Nata. One was enough -- but again others love them and they are almost symbolic of Portugal. I somehow managed not to get a single bowl of caldo verde soup but you might be luckier in March than I was in summertime.

Be aware that bread and spreads of cheese or fish that are brought to your table along with the menu will appear on your bill if you eat them. If you don't touch them or ask to have them taken away the cost will not be there. Up to you.
sandralist is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 02:36 PM
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octopus is amazing in portugal - "polvo"
salted cod - "bacalau|

stay away from auga dente "fire water"

pork in portugal is also quite good. if you can find black pig, it is phenomenal.

i also vote for cataplana, but this more of a southern dish.

you can't go wrong with the fish. it's what portugal is known for
JErinPereira is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 03:07 PM
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My husband and I found Portuguese food to be salty, and we also decided about halfway through a 2 week trip that one entree tended to be just about right for both of us.

He fell in love with picanha. I liked just about every version of bacalhau I met.
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Old Aug 24th, 2014, 04:59 AM
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Gordon_R and others, I would love restaurant suggestions, our apartment is on Rua Garrett in the Chiado section

Thanks for all of your comments, I plug them into Google for images, or web for information or recipes.

Is the bacalhau a bras a dinner dish?

The meat dishes all look great, and we love fish.........but my sister-in-law and I aren't crazy about dead fish eyeballs looking at us (doesn't bother my husband of course!) How is it usually served, or what words on the menu would indicate that it is whole?
wrenwood is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2014, 07:13 AM
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I ate bacalhau a bras for lunch but would assume it still would have been on the menu at dinner. I ate it after visiting the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga on the lovely mimosa-shaded terrace of the York House but I think they have a seasonal menu so no guarantees. ( I notice that currently it isn't on the menu but alheira is).


Very near rua Garrett is Bom Jardim for split roasted chicken (10 minute walk)


Also quite near rua Garrett is Restaurante da Calçada (the address is Calcada do Carmo, 35) for abundant and excellent sardine and octopus dishes plus clam soups and other very down home treats at thrillingly low prices (5 minute walk)


Ibo for Mozambique fish dishes at higher prices and a charming riverside location near Cais do Sodre (15 minute walk)



Two websites that are really helpful in planning a trip to Lisbon are GoLisbon and LisbonLux

Sardines and other such smaller fish are usually grilled whole and served head on but you can ask to have the heads removed. Large fish like tuna and swordfish are available as steaks and filets. You will probably be able to recognize on the menu which is which. If you are really concerned then use Google translate before you go to print out a little card you can show to waiters asking to have fish heads removed and asking which fish dishes are filets or steaks. The difficulty with Portuguese for me is not reading it but guessing at the pronunciation when trying to speak it. The words on paper very much resemble french or spanish or italian but they are not pronounced like any of those languages so it is very hard to be understood if you are totally mangling the language (like I was doing).
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