“Ooooh, you’re going to Lisbon? You absolutely MUST eat here, here, here and here. Oh, and don’t miss here!”
This is what almost everyone told me when I said I was off to Lisbon for the weekend. Or, at least, some variation of it. In fact, the more I planned what I wanted to do in my 48 short hours in Portugal’s pretty capital city the more I realised everything involved food. Or drink. Or both.
But as Portugal isn’t known for its plant-based delicacies (think peri-peri chicken, fresh fish and delectable custard tarts) I was a little worried I’d spend most of my time “settling” for whatever vegan food I could find. Or not eat vegan at all. Neither one the most exciting option.
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In fact, I forgot to request a vegan meal on my flight, mostly because I’m used to never getting a meal, so when we got a delicious cheese sandwich (and chocolate pudding)....well, I’m not gonna lie, I ate them both with gusto. But vegan, they weren’t…
I opted to stay at the 1908 Lisboa Hotel in beautiful Intendente, which was a speedy 30-minute ride on two trains from the airport costing €2. You could also get a cab for around €15 but, quite honestly, I prefer to save my pennies for all the delicious food.
Although some of the traditional Portuguese fare is animal-product heavy, there are also some “accidentally” vegan foods you can happily quaff alongside your fellow carnivores. Particularly helpful if you are travelling with a meat-eater, as I was.
Ginjinha, a traditional cherry liqueur drunk as a morning pick-me-up as well as Port, the famed dessert wine are both, quite obviously, vegan.
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I’m pregnant so didn’t enjoy these in the quantities my husband did but….it was enjoyable to watch the locals partake while chatting, eating the cherry at the bottom of the glass before spitting the stones into the gutter.
You could luxe this experience up by drinking your Ginjinha in a chocolate cup.
Vegan cafes and restaurants in Lisbon
There were a surprising amount of new and old plant-based-centric food in Lisbon. We stumbled across places on the way to finding spots we’d been recommended as well as the many search results on Happy Cow.
Below are my recommendations...
Hipster plant-based eatery
On our short walk from the metro stop to the hotel we passed the supremely hipster plant-based eatery O Gambuzino. Incidentally this was also recommended to us by our amazing Sandemans walking tour guide Ricardo Diaz, a vegan environmentalist himself.
Brand new, the restaurant has a small but perfectly formed menu of mouth-watering vegan and vegetarian food, like Indonesian Gado Gado, pumpkin toastie sandwiches and the BEST sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten.
O Gambuzino: Rua dos Anjos Loja 5A, 1150-032 Lisbon
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Delicious plant-based buffet
Located in the Bairro Alto district of Lisbon, DaTerra serves up a delicious plant-based buffet. According to the Portugalist Blog author James, Da Terra is a must-visit. He says, “it has a wide choice of colourful and creative dishes that make good use of fruit and vegetables, rather than relying on pasta and other carbs.
Even if you're not a vegetarian or vegan, you'll probably find yourself craving at least one healthy meal while you're travelling so this is definitely a good place to go and stock up on those essential vitamins!”
DaTerra : Rua Afonso Cordeiro, 71, Matosinhos, Lisbon
Tasty vegan custard tarts
It wouldn’t be an eating guide to Lisbon without giving you a vegan version of the famous
pastéis de nata. I thought this was WAY too big an ask but, as it happens, Zarzuela not only makes tasty vegan custard tarts (as good as the non-vegan version) but you can chow down on a variety of Portuguese desserts here too.
Zarzuela: R. Bernardino Costa 21-23, 1200-052 Lisboa
Lentil and beetroot burgers
In the Chiado area, the ‘vegan food project’ aka Ao 26 serves up delicious Portuguese food with an emphasis on plants. You’ll find hearty lentil and beetroot burgers alongside traditional pate starters and raw cakes for dessert. Great for lunch or dinner, this is the perfect stop amidst your Lisbon wanderings.
Ao 26: R. Vítor Cordon 26, 1200-484 Lisboa
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Where Michelin starred chefs source their ingredients
Also known as the Mercado de Ribeira, the Time Out Market in Cais do Sodre run by, you guessed it, Time Out Magazine Lisboa. It’s a bustling, busy yet slick market of delicious restaurants. It’s said that only the ‘Creme de la Creme’ get in so you’ll find Michelin starred chefs serving up Lisbon’s finest fare alongside a hustling, bustling array of more casual spots to eat. Although there isn’t a dedicated plant-based stall, I found a few options at various stalls and it’s perfect if you’re travelling with a group of people as you can all grab what you like and eat together at one of the big, communal tables.
Time Out Magazine Lisboa: Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479 Lisboa
Words: Lucy Lucraft
Lucy is a vegan blogger and podcaster. Find out more more tips on her blog.