Europe might not sound like the most affordable destination, but Portugal proves surprisingly affordable. Historically, travelers have overlooked Portugal. However, I am happy to notice that Portugal welcomes more and more visitors each year.
You can easily get to Lisbon — Portugal’s capital — from anywhere else in Europe. There are plenty of routes on travel sites like GoEuro that can help you find the best way to get to Lisbon – Portugal’s capital. Depending on where you are traveling from in Europe, consider booking low-cost flights or buses online. It’s the best way to save money and gain convenience.
Once you get to Lisbon, there are many things to keep you entertained depending on your preferences. There’s once thing all travelers have in common and that is the need to eat. Luckily for you, Lisbon is a gastronomic delight, and there are many delicious foods you can try without having to splurge.
These are the best cheap eats in Lisbon:
Prato do Dia
While there are many budget friendly restaurants all around Lisbon, no deal can beat “Prato do Dia.” These are the daily specials served during lunch hours. Most small and medium-sized eateries serve daily specials, with a selection of soups of the day as well as several meat and fish dishes. Use these inexpensive daily specials to sample the local cuisine. Unfortunately, most restaurants don’t serve vegetarian options.
To find good “Prato do Dia,” stay away from restaurants that are obvious tourist traps. How can you tell the difference? It’s very easy! Avoid businesses with menus translated into several languages and those with waiters who stand outside, eager to invite you in to have a seat.
Prato dos Dia tend to offer traditional Portuguese food that may include dishes such as octopus rice, feijoada (bean stew), cozido (Portuguese meats stew), and simpler fresh dishes like roasted meat or charcoal-grilled fish with veggies.
Pastry shops, locally known as pastelarias, are where Lisbon locals like to enjoy a coffee and a sweet bite, but they also serve as no-frills establishments where you can enjoy a quick meal.
If you are not particularly hungry or you are on a really tight budget, you can opt for “mini prato,” which are available at some pastelarias. They’re a smaller portion of the daily special that rarely cost more than five euros.
Apart from daily specials, pastelarias also serve simple meals such as soups, savory pies, and hot sandwiches. If you’d like to try something a local would eat, order a prego: a steak sandwich cooked on the spot, usually served in a juicy bun smothered with butter and mustard. You will not spend more than a couple of euros and, if you’d like to wash it all down like a Lisboeta would, add in another euro or two and pair your prego with a cold beer or even a glass of wine!
Frango Para Levar
Take-away food culture in Lisbon might not be as prominent as in other capital cities. However, there is one item that Portuguese people do love to take home and eat, and that is barbecue chicken! It is locally known as “frango no churrasco” or, for those who speak English, peri-peri chicken. While you may come across many take-away shops offering “frango para levar,” I’d like to recommend Frangasqueira Nacional, which is my absolute favorite barbecue chicken joint in Lisbon!
Pão Com Chouriço & Caldo Verde
While it’s easy to survive on restaurants and pastelarias during the day, those always end up closing at a certain time of the night. If you go out and about, but you are one of those people who needs to have a bite before going to sleep, fear not! Along one of Lisbon’s main avenues, Avenida 24 de Julho, there are several late-night joints specializing in freshly baked bread stuffed with Portuguese sausage, known as chouriço. As you walk down the street, you won’t be able to ignore the enticing smell of those meaty buns as food service workers bake them in wood ovens. Pão com chouriço, as the buns are known, are traditionally served with steamy bowls of caldo verde, the most quintessential of Portuguese soups, which is made with potatoes and kale. It might sound like an odd combination for a foreigner, particularly in the late hours. However, all the Lisbon party-goers who make a pilgrimage to eat these weekend after weekend can’t be wrong!
Lisbon is a beautiful and exciting capital city. It is also affordable by European standards, and it serves tasty cuisine too. There’s no reason you should miss out on it when you plan your next trip to Western Europe!