Petiscos: All the Best Food in Lisbon to Eat Like a Local
If you want to truly eat like a local in Lisbon, you need to dive into the delicious world of petiscos. But what exactly are they, and which ones are the tastiest? Let’s jump in and explore the best food in Lisbon, one small dish at a time!
What are petiscos?
One can compare petiscos to tapas in that they are both small plates of food that are meant to be shared. Both are snacks, or food that you can eat and split with a group. However, the Portuguese will quickly remind you that petiscos and tapas are not the same. Just as important as the food itself is the way that the food is enjoyed and consumed.
Petiscos comes from the verb petiscar: to snack, or to savor. Each bite is meant to be a special moment to savor and enjoy in good company. It gets even better when you throw in a glass of fine, Portuguese wine and a table of friends and family to share it all with. Here are 7 petiscos that are among the best food in Lisbon that you just have to try for yourself!
The word pica pau translates to woodpecker in Portuguese, since you eat this dish by using small, wooden toothpicks. Little bits of beef in a bath of garlicky gravy, then topped off with pickles and and chili, make for a delicious bite. Make sure to ask for some fresh, crusty bread so that you can sop up all the tasty juices left behind by the meat!
Salada de polvo
One of the most popular dishes in town and definitely among the best food in Lisbon is salada de polvo. You’ll swoon when you bite into this salad of octopus, onion, cilantro and olive oil. It’s so simple, but it’s so light, refreshing, and delicious, too. Additionally, potatoes and tomatoes might make an appearance in this dish.
Want to add a little excitement to your table? Order up some chouriço assado! This savory Portuguese sausage comes out of the kitchen in a little clay pot, is set on the table, and then set on fire. The flames make the outside of the sausage nice and crispy while the inside stays tender. This is a favorite petisco at fado bars, so you can enjoy dinner and a show!
Peixinhos da horta
This one goes out to all the veggie lovers out there. Even though peixinhos means little fish in Portuguese, it only has this name for its resemblance to small, fried fish. Peixinhos da horta are battered and fried green beans that were a favorite of Portuguese sailors back in the 16th-century. They introduced this dish to the Japanese, which inspired them to develop tempura. It’s some of the best food in Lisbon to share with a group since it’s so easy to eat and share at a table.
Fresh seafood is a must in Lisbon, and sardinhas are some of the very best things to try from the sea. These fresh sardines, grilled over an open flame and sprinkled with sea salt, are simple and tasty. Since they are easy to eat and pass around the table, they make for a perfect petisco. Sardinhas are so popular in Portugal that there are even festivals dedicated to them in the summertime!
Green eggs, can it be? Yes! While the name and appearance of this dish may seem strange, ovos verdes are a Portuguese delicacy. It’s similar to a Scotch egg, but without the meat, and a deviled egg combined. It gets its name from the parsley that’s mixed with the egg yolk and turns it green. For a fun, tasty dish that’s unique to Portugal, you need to try this petisco.
If you’ve never tried snails then now is the time. Caracóis are a must when they’re in season in the summer. Even though they can be an acquired taste, they’re worth it to try just once if you really want to eat like a local in Lisbon. The snails simmer in white wine and garlic until tender and are usually eaten with toothpicks.
If you want to experience the best food in Lisbon, join Food Lover Tour and come eat where the locals go!