Just 15 minutes away on a tram ride, west from downtown Lisbon is the Campo de Ourique neighborhood. This area is known to locals as a foodie neighborhood, where new food concepts are tested and launched.
Most visitors to Lisbon will rarely make it to this area. It is a charming “city within Lisbon” and a foodie paradise. It is a place to taste Lisbon like nowhere else… “because if it works in Campo de Ourique, it will work everywhere in Lisbon”.
To help us navigate this neighborhood, we teamed up with Taste of Lisboa food tours to learn about local Portuguese cuisine in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods.
After all, the best way to learn about a new culture is through food, and there is no better way than to do with a local.
Discover this off the beaten path Taste of Lisboa food tours and their Campo de Ourique food and cultural tour.
Starting the Taste of Lisboa Food Tours at the Cemetery of “Pleasure”
The food tour started promptly at 10:30 am. Guiding us was Madalena, who is Portuguese and lives in Estrela, the neighborhood right next to Campo de Ourique.
The group was small and intimate, with a couple from Australia, a French lady and the both of us. The perfect size for a personalized experience.
The meeting point was Cemitério dos Prazeres, also known as the cemetary of pleasure, where the most important and famous Portuguese personalities are buried. This includes writers, painters, actors, and singers.
Created in the 1800’s to handle the thousands of victims of the cholera epidemic, it is filled with amazing sculptures and beautiful mausoleums.
The Best Chocolate Cake in the World on a Taste of Lisboa Food Tours
Our first tasting stop was a surprising start. Our guide, Madalena, took us to discover the “best chocolate cake in the world” at MBCM.
This tiny store is located at the back of the Mercado Campo de Ourique. And there are only a handful of tables to sit and enjoy this famous chocolate cake.
You have the choice between the traditional cake which is made with milk chocolate cake or the dark chocolate cake, made with about 70% cacao. Both cakes are made of a light chocolate meringue combined with a rich chocolate mousse.
At the first bite, you get an infusion of rich chocolate. The chocolate is refined and delicious with the mousse melting in the mouth. The meringue adds crispness and lightness to the cake.
To accompany the cake, we enjoyed a traditional Portuguese coffee called bica. This espresso coffee helps cut the sugary taste of the cake.
To digest our first stop of the day, we walked to the historic Igreja do Santo Condestável for a bite of history before heading to our next stop on the tour.
Canned Portuguese Fish Mercado Campo de Ourique – Parceria das Conserva
Canned fish is an important part of Portugal’s culinary heritage, from as far back as 1853, when the first commercial canning factory, Ramirez, was set up.
At Mercado Campo de Ourique, the main local market in the neighborhood, we made a stop at the Parceria das Conserva stall to sample a variety of Portuguese canned fish.
We sampled mackerel in curry sauce, tuna intomato sauce, sardines in olive oil and a fish roe salad. These little bites were accompanied with a delicious Portuguese rosé wine from Lisbon.
The canned fish were surprisingly delicious. Both the mackerel and tuna were thick and fleshy. The curry sauce and mackerel was our absolute favorite. A hint of spice and the perfect combination of flavors.
Mercado Campo de Ourique, recently renovated has been transformed into a modern and hip market. You can find fruits and vegetables alongside stalls serving sophisticated Portuguese cuisine, wines, meats, Portuguese tapas and more.
A wonderful and historic place to taste Portugal’s flavors in a relaxed environment.
Pork the Portuguese Way at Pigmeu
Pork is a consistent element in Portuguese cuisine. At Pigmeu, everything is prepared and cooked with pork.
To get a taste of the cuisine, we were presented with a trio of their specialties. First, a “croqueta”, which is a fried bowl filled with pork cheek, with a mustard sauce. Then, we had a bruschetta made of “chicharron” or fried pork fat with tomatoes on top. And finally, a smoked ham sandwich.
The sandwich was delicious, while the bruschetta had interesting flavors. The croqueta was our least favorite. To accompany these bites, we had a juicy red wine from the Douro valley.
Surprising Portuguese Mussels and Beer
When it comes to beer and mussels, you may think of Belgium and certainly not Lisbon for traditional mussels and beer. At the reinvented Moules & Beer restaurant, we got a chance savor local Portuguese mussels as well and craft beer from Lisbon.
Two buckets of Portuguese Mussels were presented to us prepared with a typical Portuguese sauce called Bulhão Pato. The sauce gets its name from a famous Lisbon poet from the 19th Century. The sauce is made of white wine, cilantro, garlic, and olive oil, a good representation of the traditional Portuguese cooking ingredients.
In addition to the Portuguese mussels, we tasted the local craft beer Vadia. This brewery was created in 2007, at the beginning of the new craft beer movement in Portugal. The Vadia we tasted was a lager, easy to drink and light in taste.
A Taste of Portuguese Culture at Flagrante Delitro Restaurant
The history and culture of Portugal was very much a part of the food tour experience. This stop for Portuguese traditional cuisine took place at restaurant, Flagrante Delitro, of Casa Fernando Pessoa.
The traditional tasting at this stop was for pataniscas or codfish fritters with a baked beans soupy rice. This was accompanied by a glass of vinho verde or “green wine” from the rolling hills of northern Portugal.
RELATED Read more about Portuguese wines in our article Fall in Love with Douro Valley and the Best Wines in Portugal
Despite being fried, the codfish fritters were not oily and full of flavors. The soupy rice with baked beans was the perfect dish for a cool day and the lively Vinho Verde was the perfect compliment to the tasting.
Traditional Dessert from the Nuns at the Cantina De Estrela
To finish on a sweet note, we headed to Cantina da Estrela, housed within the historic Condes de Paraty Palace. This restaurant, part of the Hotel da Estrela, is modern and stylish, overlooking the beautiful garden. The perfect setting for an afternoon snack and drink.
The local specialty here is the famous and very traditional Pão de Ló or Portuguese sponge cake. This sponge cake was traditionally made by the nuns from the convent of Cós. It is said that Pão de Ló was born from a mistake in the 19th century during the visit of the King.
As the story goes, the King was visiting and in a hurry to serve him, the sponge cake was removed out of the oven too early. Everyone praised the taste of the cake, which turned out moist and filled with a delicious egg cream.
Since then, the way to make this cake has been preserved.
On the Taste of Lisboa food tours, we found the taste to be as described. The texture of a sponge cake was soft and sweet. A delightful cake to enjoy with tea or coffee.
Food is one of the best ways to truly understand a culture. Taking a food tour with a local guide gives you rich insights and perspectives that you otherwise would not have.
If it had not been for the Taste of Lisboa food tours, we probably would not have visited the Campo de Ourique neighborhood and discovered the rich food culture.
Our expert guide, Madalena, not only covered the traditional Portuguese delicacies but also took us to the up and coming restaurants that are reinventing Portuguese cuisine.
The discovery of the “best chocolate cake in the world” contrasted by the nun’s pão de ló covered a wide spectrum of the Portuguese desserts. From canned fish to mussels and codfish fritters we enjoyed a wide sampling of Portugal’s favorite food.
The Campo de Ourique Taste of Lisboa Food Tours is a great way to discover a foodie neighborhood and learn about Portuguese cuisine. Taking the Taste of Lisboa food tours with a local gives you incredibly rich cultural insights.
If your travels take you to Lisbon, be sure to book the Campo de Ourique Taste of Lisboa Food Tours for a delicious discovery of Portugal.
How To Book Your Taste of Lisboa Food Tours
Created by a Lisbon native, the Taste of Lisboa food tours offers a variety of gastronomy tours with a blend of history, culture, architecture in different neighborhoods.
The particular tour was 4-hours in length with seven food stops including a number of cultural stops.
Go with an open and curious mind and eat only a small or light breakfast. And, be prepared for a fascinating discovery.
With the Taste of Lisboa Food Tours, you can expect “Real People, Real Food!”
Where to Stay in Lisbon for Food Lovers
Sunny Lisbon is the perfect place to visit all year round offering almost 300 sunny days every year. For the most part, the city is relatively safe, especially in the popular and touristic areas.
Each barrio or neighborhood has its own unique character and charm. And in each barrio, you’ll find amazing places to stay as well as local restaurants local establishments serving the very best Portuguese specialties.
To help you get the most out of your trip, we’ve written a detailed guide with the best areas to stay in Lisbon for food lovers.
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Special thanks to Taste of Lisboa for having us on this tour. All views and opinions expressed are our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too!
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Curious by nature, Rosemary loves exploring new flavors and connecting with locals. She shares her insights and culinary finds from her travels to inspire people to connect local through food.