We still have taverns in Lisbon!
Lisbon’s taverns, popular places to have a meal at attractive prices, are rapidly disappearing. Now, in the season of the Portuguese escargot (snails) and grilled sardines, they are a mandatory visit.
But taverns are much more than just modest and cheap restaurants, they are tourist sites representing the Portuguese spirit, demonstrating how they welcome all kinds of people as if they were neighbours or long time acquaintances.
Many employees or taverns owners like to chat and listen to customers, while they reveal their own human weaknesses and serve wine as if they were at home.
The top 3 tavern dishes representing Portuguese cuisine are: snails, one of the most original Portuguese snacks, the Portuguese escargot, smaller and tastier; sardines, grilled over coal and accompanied by a grilled peppers salad and house wine; and “Cozido à Portuguesa”, a substantial stew including various sausages, meats and vegetables.
Some taverns are like sanctuaries or non-official museums for football teams such as Benfica, Sporting or even Porto, because football is the favourite subject for many tavern employees. The décor is a mix of themes, not just football scarves, but also altars for patron saints; the famous pottery “Zé Povinho” created by Bordallo Pinheiro, put there as warning for anyone thinking about not paying; and naughty calendars.
Lisbon’s taverns first started as charcoal stores, owned by Galician natives in the 20th century, which usually had a place to serve snacks and drink wine. When charcoal stopped being used as an energy source, these businesses had to adjust, so many of them shifted to the food industry.
Every neighbourhood in Lisbon, such as Alcântara, Algés, Avenidas Novas, Bairro Alto, Baixa, Mouraria, São José, Pampulha, Campo de Ourique, Benfica and Lumiar still has a hidden tavern.
Aliança Velha, a spririts drink served in every tavern, joined Tiago Cruz and Marco Dias to create a tavern guide, resulting in a bilingual book about the most popular taverns for the authors, published by Oficina Do Livro.
Some of them are very well known, such as “Modesta da Pampulha” with “the best codfish cakes in Lisbon”; “Tasca do Esteves” for the Portuguese escargot; “Central das Avenidas” to have a “bifana” (pork sandwich) and pig’s ear salad; “Bota Feijão” in Olivais for roasted suckling pig, popular all over Portugal and “Parreirinha de Algés” for the sardines.
But there are also others which you won’t find in any guide, such as “A Licorista”, where Fernando Pessoa, poet and writer, supposedly said: “Caught in the act” making a word pun with the Portuguese word delito (crime), misspelling it as “delitro” (de-litre), in reference to the amount of alcohol he was drinking; “Adega do Rossio”; “Alcobaça”, next to Largo do Carmo, with excellent sardines; and many others to discover.
Discover this popular and still authentic sites within our city with Best Experience Lisbon.