When researching Lisbon and what to do, my research kept going to the food. You see, Lisbon is a beachside town. It is wonderful Mediterranean climate (though on the Atlantic Ocean) shapes it is cuisine, and that means a lot of amazing, fresh, succulent seafood. After watching YouTube video of the food in Portugal, I started looking for a food tour that would work for our group of six. I found The 10 Tastings of Lisbon with WithLocals. We found a tour that takes us all through Lisbon, teaching us history, the culture, and feeding us some of the best food along the way. Come along as we eat with our host, Diogo from WithLocals, and experience Lisbon and its food culture as one should.
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We were a group of six, two seniors, two adults, and two tweens/teens. We wanted something that would work for everyone. A private tour allowed our group to move at a pace that worked for us without worrying about keeping back others in the group. After some research, we found the tour that would work and had availability was The 10 Tastings of Lisbon. What was nice that with WithLocals you can actually choose your tour guide. There are a number of guides that had great bios. We choose to go with Diogo because we loved his bio, and the fact that he was from Portugal. Communication through the system was easy, and we set up a meeting place and time to start the tour.
Diogo set up the meeting spot at a central location, Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. We sent my mom, stepfather, and daughter in the taxi, while my husband, son and I tried to take the tram. We ended up missing it and essentially having to walk the whole way, up the hill. Do not recommend. But once we were all able to meet up, Diogo did his introduction, and was able to start the tour. Here we got a good view of the city, and he pointed out other locations where we could get scenic views. Then we were off to our first stop.
Flor do Mundo
We walked from Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara to Flor do Mundo, where we had a reserved table in the back. Diogo says that here we would taste three dishes, and he always asks for them to provide what is fresh for the day. On the day we went, it was octopus salad, Bacalhau à Brás, and sardines. I found the octopus to be the most tender I have ever eaten. My husband and stepdad devoured the sardines. And everyone loved the bacalhau cooked in a way none of us had tried. We also got some wine to go with the food (not included) before we headed off.
A short walk away was O Trevo, across the street from Praça Luís de Camões. We found some benches while Diogo went in and ordered for us. He came out with the Bifanas sandwich, a marinated pork sandwich with a spicy mustard on a delicious bread. We had that with a beer, as he told us the history of the plaza, and Anthony Bourdin visiting the shop and putting it on the map.
Just a block away was the factory for Manteigaria. We had done a pastel de nata experiment while in Lisbon, testing all we could find, but vising the factory was a real treat. There we could watch them being made, and had Diogo give us the history of how they are made and why they are the national treat. Then, we each got one fresh out of the oven, with powdered sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top (as is customary). Nothing is better than a pastel de nata fresh out of the oven
We continued on our way and walked past A Brasileira. This is a coffee shop built in the 1920s, that brought the coffee culture to Portugal from Brazil. We walked inside to see the art deco design, and the original clock, and news and cigarette stand inside the shop. But we did not sit and eat because there were more places to go.
Basilica de Nossa Senhora dos Martires
One of the nice things about a private tour is that it can be tailored to your interests. My mother and stepfather are very religious, so we made a stop in this gorgeous church in the Chiado neighborhood. Beautiful paintings and title work, but one of the amazing things about the church is the pipe organ. If you visit, be sure to walk to the alter, then turn around to admire the grandiose pipe organ, and imagine the hall filled with its music.
This small unassuming book shop in the Chiado neighborhood, the oldest running bookshop in the world, is a must stop if you have readers in the family. Opened in 1732, Livaria Bertrand still operates as a book shop. They have a small selection of English books. I told the kids if they could pick out a book in 5 minutes, I would buy it. They each did, and we not only bought the books, but got it stamped inside that it was purchased at this famous shop.
Next up was a classic for Portugal, Gingina! It is a cherry liquor that was made by the monks but is now a staple for the country. We visited one of the two oldest classic Gingina spots, Eduardino Gingina. All of us had a small glass and toasted to our amazing trip.
Casa do Alentejo
The last stop was truly a unique one. Casa do Alentejo is was created as a place to promote and preserve the Alentejo culture, a region of Portugal in the south of the country. After desert and liquor, we went back to heavy food, with an amazing pork dish that was sautéed and seasoned to be divine. It was served with a mashed corn dish that the kids just wanted to devour. And of course, bread with butter and sardine paste. We could barely finish our food it was so heavy, but also so good. Then it was time to say goodbye to Diogo and head on to the rest of our day.
I love walking tours; they are a great way to see the city and explore the place. And I love food tours because food is always such an important part of the culture. Combining the two as we did here was the best of both worlds. We got to learn the history of Lisbon and Portugal. We got to experience the culture through the food. We got to learn the best places to eat. And we got to do it all at a pace that worked for us. I cannot say enough about this experience and how wonderful it was.
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