Having done my research ahead of time, I understood that traditional Portuguese cuisine consisted heavily of meat and seafood. Vegetarian travelers will not go hungry, however. Most restaurants, I found, offer some sort of egg omelet, and a number of traditional Portuguese soups are naturally vegetarian. I had the traditional pumpkin soup twice, including a small appetizer-size version (pictured below) at Open Brasserie Mediterranica, the restaurant at my eco-friendly hotel, Inspira Santa Marta. This restaurant was very sensitive to diners' dietary restrictions and offered several other vegetarian and vegan items, which were clearly identified on the menu.
|Traditional Portuguese pumpkin soup|
|Open Brasserie Mediterranica's menu clearly identifies vegetarian and vegan items|
Portuguese wine bars also are a great way to experience traditional cuisine. Although these places don't usually serve hot meals, they offer enough meat-free wine pairing snacks to fill you up. My feast at Winebar do Castelo is pictured below. It included various cheeses, olives, jams, olive oils, bread, and even gluten-free crackers for my travel partner with the wheat allergy. The atmosphere, service, location (next to the castle), and, of course, the wine were all fabulous!
|Wine, olive oils, jams, cheese, olives, bread, and gluten-free crackers at Winebar do Castelo|
And no visit to Lisbon is complete without trying the city's signature pasteis de nata, which are vanilla-flavored egg custard pastry tarts. The original and most famous version of these is served at Pasteis de Belem in charming Belem (be prepared to wait in line), but I also found equally delicious ones closer to downtown at Manteigaria in Chiado.
|Lisbon's famous are pasteis de nata (vanilla-flavored egg custard pastry tarts) are vegetarian but not vegan, and are not to be missed if you can eat them. TIP: sprinkle some cinnamon on them to make them extra delicious!|
Finally, like most big cities, Lisbon has a number of vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Although these restaurants may not provide the same traditional Portuguese experience as some other places, they are a good option for travelers who plan to spend more than few days in Lisbon and tire of eggs, soup, cheese, bread, and pastries. I really enjoyed my tropical salad, chock full of protein-rich beans and fresh fruit, at the international-themed, veg-friendly (and somewhat divey) The Green Room. The chef also was very accommodating of my travel partner's food allergies.
|This tropical salad at The Green Room was very satisfying, as it was full of chickpeas, black beans, and fresh fruit and greens.|