I’m studying abroad in Spain this semester, and since I’ve never been closer, I hopped over to our western neighbor for a weekend! I got the chance to explore Portugal’s rich culinary and cultural scene and try a plethora of traditional foods (margherita pizzas and avocado toast not pictured). Now, I’m going to take you with me!

Pastéis de nata – Portuguese custard tarts

Sidney Eigeman

These delicious pastries are a Portuguese classic! They’re a type of egg custard tart, and they’re sold almost on every corner in Lisbon. They’re made of a flaky dough crust, sugar syrup, and a custard base made primarily from milk, vanilla, and egg yolks. These sweet treats have a long history dating back to before the 18th century, when they were created by Catholic monks. They’re super creamy and perfectly sweet, and they go great with a bica, or a strong espresso coffee!

Ginjinha – Cherry liqueur

Best consumed in the iconic tiny chocolate shot glass of a small town called Óbidos in Portugal, ginjinha is a liqueur made by infusing ginja berries (a sour cherry) with alcohol, sugar, and often cloves or cinnamon. Usually you can find them for only one euro apiece– for the best experience, take half the shot, then pop the chocolate cup in your mouth with the remaining ginjinha!

Bolinhos de bacalhau – Salt cod fritters

The first cod dish (of many) of the weekend was these delectable fried cakes made of white fish, potatoes, eggs, parsley, and onions, sometimes even filled with melty cheese. They’re super similar to croquettes, which may sound French, but you can find different types all over Portugal and Spain too! They’re perfectly crispy on the outside, and creamy and rich on the inside. They’re an amazing appetizer– but you might only be able to eat one!

Prego – Steak sandwich

Sidney Eigeman

As simple as it may seem, the Portuguese prego is a traditional sandwich, consisting of a small beef patty on bread, prepared with mustard or a barbecue-like sauce. It’s often sold with a side of fries, egg, or salad. The quality of the roll and meat was top-notch– one of the benefits of such a minimalistic dish!

Arroz de enchidos – Rice with sausage

A simple staple in this region, arroz de enchidos is filling and rich and includes sausage– a testament to pork’s significance in Portugal’s culinary world. A lot of variations will include different kinds of sausage, and you can also find similar rice dishes that also have duck or rooster.

Sidney Eigeman

Bacalhau com natas – Baked cod

This typical casserole is made with salted cod, onions, cream (like a bechamel), and fried potatoes, all layered and baked in the oven. Rich, creamy, and perfectly savory, this was one of my favorite dishes of the entire trip! Although its origin is unclear, it was likely created in the 1930s by the famous chef João Ribeiro and is a Portuguese staple to this day.

Lasanha de Espinafres – Spinach lasagna

Fairly similar to your standard lasagna, a lasanha de espinafres has layered noodles, fresh cheeses like mozzarella and parmesan, a creamy bechamel sauce, and spinach sauteed with garlic and onions. This was also a favorite of mine and an excellent, warming comfort food!

Sidney Eigeman

Caldeirada de lulas – Calamari stew

Seafood is a staple of Portuguese cuisine because of the country’s proximity to the Atlantic, and cod doesn’t get all the love! This is a brothy stew with potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and onions, as well as squid. Caldeirada de lulas is unique because none of these veggies are sauteed prior to cooking, unlike many other typical dishes.

Camarões grelhados com ervas e manteiga – Grilled shrimp with garlic butter

Sidney Eigeman

Shellfish are also popular in this coastal city, so we had to try this grilled shrimp dish! It was fresh and flavorful, and was cooked simply. You can also find similar dishes to this one across the pond in Brazil!

Lascas de batata, mayonnaise de alho – Potato skin chips with garlic mayo

Sidney Eigeman

We’ve already tried so many forms of potato this trip– including cubed patatas bravas, French-fried patatas fritas, spiraled “tornado” potatoes, potato croquettes, tortillas de patata/potato omelettes– what’s one more? These were like potato chips but with a little more oomph. Aeoli, mayo’s boujee counterpart, just brings it up a notch!

Robalo escalado – Grilled sea bass

Sidney Eigeman

We took a brief intermission from the cod to try another white fish! I personally liked this better than the grilled cod we got from the same restaurant– as sea bass is a thinner cut of fish than cod– especially garnished with just a dash of lemon juice.

Bacalhau assado – Grilled cod

Sidney Eigeman

Last cod, I promise! Of everything we tried on this trip, this was probably one of the most characteristic of the region: cod, potatoes, vegetables. All you could want and more! A true taste of Portugal, I would never get tired of the freshness of the food here. Definitely worth adding to your foodie bucket list!