Lisbon Local Custom Tips by rsilva
Lisbon Local Customs: 150 reviews and 208 photos
Autumn and winter in Portugal would not be the same without the roasted chestnuts.
As soon as the weather starts getting colder, you will see many vendors on the streets, which you will be able to recognize by the scent and the smoke.
You must make sure you buy a dozen "Castanhas assadas" (Portuguese for Roasted Chestnuts) as they are usually quite delicious. They are served in a cone made out of newspaper/phone-book (English fish and chips style).
Coffee is quite popular in Portugal and most people drink it in the morning, during the day and specially after meals.
However, there are different kinds and if you are not used to the names, it can be confusing to know which one is which.
If you just ask for a coffee (or café in Portuguese), you will get a very small cup half full with strong coffee, which is known as "bica" here in Lisbon. If you ever had a coffee in Italy it is very similar.
- Bica. The abovementioned "standard" coffee that you will get unless you don't specifically ask for a different kind.
- Bica cheia. "Full coffee", meaning you get the same cup, just that it is completely full with the same amount of coffe, just some more water.
- Café duplo. Just a "double" coffee, two servings of coffee in the same cup (you will be charged two coffees).
- Italiana. Same cup, less water, more concentrated coffee. This is just one or two sips of the drink.
- Café com cheirinho. Literally, "coffe with a scent" it is a bica with some "Aguardente" or "Bagaço" (similar to brandy) added.
- Carioca. Coffee topped with hot water. (Different from "bica cheia" as it is usually served in a larger cup).
- Galão. Tall glass of (hot) milk with some coffee (more milk, however).
- Garoto. Coffee topped with milk.
- Descafeínado. Decaffeinated coffee, like a bica
You can also get Capuccino's in some places, but they are not very traditional.
Don't expect "American style", huge cups of coffee anywhere (unless maybee in a hotel or so).
I think that pretty much covers it. I would just like to add that "Portuguese coffee" is considered to be one of the best.
Açorda de Marisco
In Portugal, prices on the menu include VAT and service.
In almost all restaurants, you will be given bread and butter/paté and other things such as olives, smoked ham, cheese. These things are NOT free.
If you know you do not want them, just send them back. Let's say you don't eat olives, just tell the waiter you don't want them and they will be removed from the table.
When you get the bill, just check that you weren't charged any starters you did not eat. It happens to me all the time... But, if you eat one olive, you will pay for the whole serving, same goes for sliced cheese etc.
Some places will charge only the pieces of bread, butter, etc that you actually eat, but that is not always the case.
If one or more people at the table are not eating, you might be charged a "couvert", usually in the form of bread or starters.
Tipping is customary, but not absolutely necessary, specially if service is not good.
Ginja is a cherry-like fruit, I don't know the name in English.
Ginjinha is the liquor made from this fruit and is a very famous Portuguese drink. Although it might not be a delicacy it is one of those traditions that are dying as young people seem not to enjoy it very much.
In the Rossio area there are still a few Ginjinha bars open (like the one on the photo in the Rua das Portas de S. Antão) and it is nice to walk in and see all the old men having their glass of the drink (which is usually served with a piece of fruit inside).
The most famous place is probably "Ginjinha do Rossio" (Largo S. Domingos, 8).
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