Here are some things that you should taken into consideration when eating in Portugal.
- The little snacks, breads, cheeses, olives that you didn’t order and are put on the table after you sit down are not free.
Good restaurants will inform you that these extras are not included and will have the prices on the menu, some wont and will charge you ridiculously high prices for them. Even though most of them taste very good, make sure you check prices before touching them. We once went with a group of 8 foreigners to an medium expensive restaurant that put a lot of delicious snacks on our table, the moment we sat down. Our friends where very shocked when on bill turned out to be 3 times as much as expected. Most North Europeans are not used to this they expect, especially in a none tourist, expensive restaurant that if they are offered something, it’s the extra attention they get for eating in an expensive restaurant. They felt ripped off, so did we.
- Traditional Portuguese lunches and dinners consist of 3 courses, wine, water, olives and bread. The meal starts with soup, generally thats where you’ll find the veg, main course fish, meat accompanied by fries or boiled potato, very often also with rice and in a little bit more modern restaurants with some seasonal vegetable. Desserts are sweet, mostly home made and the pride of most chefs. Lisbon is an international city with a lot of foreign influence but you will still find many restaurants that serve 100% traditional.
- In some restaurants you may want to check prices of anything you order before you order it.
Portuguese people are not by nature dishonest and most restaurants are very up front and will do anything to make you stay a favourable one, in fact generally your likely to get more than you bargained for.
Some tourist restaurants may however abuse your tourist position by charging unexpected high prices, if an unclear menu allows it, if you have become a victim of such practices please contact Go Eat Lisboa and we will follow up your complaint. Of all the countries we’ve travelled to Portugal is the least likely place to get ripped off that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen and on a few occasions it has.
- Watch out for the little fish snacks, sometimes they are put on tables again and again if nobody eats them, on warm days this can, obviously, be quite dangerous.
- Lisbonetas eat lunch between 12.00 and 15.00 (like most of Portugal) and diner after 19.00 a lot of restaurants do not serve meals outside of these hours! check this site first or contact the restaurant to avoid disappointment
- Restaurant prices are low in Portugal, so are wages and most waiters do rely, for a large part, on your tips.
A 10% tip is normal. Many waiters will go out off their way to make your dinner a very pleasant one obviously tipping more than 10% will be well appreciated! Until now, We’ve never had food poisoning of any kind in Portugal. The Portuguese are critical eaters and most restaurants have proud cooks that will only cook what’s good and fresh. However we have had a complaint from a person travelling in Portugal (once!) about a tourist restaurant, we take this very serious!
- Lisbon likes innovation and there are many fine, good and even exceptional restaurants, generally for lower prices than any other country in Europe.
- If you’re on a budget, take the ‘diario’ (de-arioo) many restaurants offer a full 3 course meal for anything between 6 to 10 euro, including drinks, soups, bread, olives and dessert!