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Lisbon Local Customs: 157 reviews and 230 photos

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Yummy Frango no churrasco waiting for us - Lisbon

Yummy Frango no churrasco waiting for us

Chicken piri-piri Food and drink Review

Chicken piri-piri is a typical dish selling in Portugal which you can find virtually everywhere. We simply call it Frango no churrasco (barbecued chicken). It is quite common for us to eat this either at home (we can buy it readily made almost everywhere) or in restaurants.
Piri-piri peppers (small and bright red, belonging to "capsicum" family) are native to Brazil, but were taken to Angola and Mozambique by Portuguese explorers and became such a part of the local cuisine that they eventually came to be known as Angolan peppers. Piri-piri is a Swahili word meaning “pepper-pepper” and the dish's African origins are clearly seen in its name but the dish became so popular in Portugal that it is regarded as a “Portuguese dish”. Actually many Portuguese keep a bottle of piri-piri sauce on the table and sprinkle it liberally on everything from fried potatoes to shellfish. The sauce should and must be quite hot, but it does not have to be unbearably hot.
Eventually the dish also became popular in Goa, India, another former Portuguese colony, and in South Africa, where there are many Portuguese workers. One of these, Fernando of its name, started a chain of food stores -Nando’s- that became quite popular all over the world, from London to Kuala Lumpur. He also chose for its logo another popular Portuguese item –the cockerel of Barcelos (see my Portugal General tip).

This is how I make the sauce at home. I don’t use to measure the quantities (everything “by eye”) and you also can try at your own. Trial and error is my best “recipe” in the kitchen.
Stem the peppers and coarsely chop (include the seeds); place in a shaker jar along with a dash of olive oil, sea salt (half of the peppers volume), and whisky enough to cover the all mixture twice. Cover tight, shake well, then store at room temperature and don’t use it for 1 month. Then you can use the sauce for about half a year. Shake the sauce every time you use it, and once you use most of the liquid part you can add more salt and whiskey.

But the piri-piri sauce is not all the story about the chicken piri-piri. The process of marinate the chicken is very important, namely the use of an acidic liquid (usually lemon or lime juice, or vinegar, or possibly wine or liquor) which adds a tang and tenderizes the chicken. Also the power of the grill is important, and the particularly aromatic wood chip to add smoke in the barbecue. In general, the amount of piri-piri that is used before grilling will determine flavor as most of it will fall into the coals or the grill pan and creates smoke that will lend a nice, smoky taste to the meat. The amount put on afterward will give it the extra punch and determine the level of spicy heat.

The marinade I prefer is a mixture (no quantities again) of oil + butter + lemon juice + red wine vinegar + crushed garlic (generous) + salt + paprika or cayenne pepper + laurel (grind). I prepare the marinade mixing all of the ingredients in a glass bowl. Let the marinade "age" for a while to allow the flavor to develop.
Then I cut a cleaned whole chicken down the center to allow it to lie flat (without cutting it into two pieces), then flatten it (usually people say “like a book” or like a “butterfly”). Then I rub the chicken all over with the marinade and allow the chicken to marinate for at least some hours, overnight if possible

I place the chicken on an outdoor grill over direct heat and grill for 15 minutes, turning frequently. Then move the chicken to the indirect side of the charcoal grill, turning the chicken every couple of minutes to prevent the skin from burning. Baste frequently with the rest of the marinade where, meanwhile, I add extra oil and piri-piri sauce. Remove from the grill when it’s done (depending on taste you can overcook or not). Then it’s time for the extra piri-piri sauce –a matter of taste again.
Serve with additional fried potatoes, a simple salad, and maybe some rice, and accompanying with olives and maybe some pickled vegetables. But people use to bring this king of chicken cut into pieces to picnics and just accompanying with bread.

Frango da Guia is a good restaurant chain (franchising company) that will be spotted in different shopping malls and tourist areas in major towns. In Lisbon area one of the best restaurants known for its frango do churrasco, which can be served with or without piri-piri, is a Churrasqueira do Campo Grande (actually is one of the best restaurants in the city for a grill meal, not just for chicken and one of my local favorites is grilled cod fish with punched potatoes, olive oil and lots of garlic). Just across the metro station in Campo Grande (green and yellow lines), Campo Grande 402/410, phone 217590131.

Note: You will find very cheap ready piri-piri sauce to sell in the supermarkets. Nevertheless, has nothing to do with the one I use to prepare at home.
If you want to buy some when in Portugal try this brand "Margão". They come grounded -you only have to add the salt and whiskey.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Apr 3, 2009
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two beers or not two beers - Lisbon

two beers or not two beers

Local beers Food and drink Review

Portuguese beers are not as famous as the ones from northern and central European countries (Belgium, Czech, German, Ireland, etc.). Nevertheless, pale lager beers are quite popular mostly among young people (the elders prefer the wine).

The 2 most spread and well known trade marks are Superbock and Sagres.
Superbock ( is the most popular beer in Portugal and also well known in other countries of the world. It is brewed by the Unicer brewery (, which is located in Leça do Balio in the north of Portugal.
Sagres ( is brewed by the Central de Cervejas brewery (CentralCer, in Vialonga. Since 2007 it’s owned by a consortium between Scottish & Newcastle, Carlsberg, and Heineken (which means that they also produce Carlsberg and Heineken here in Portugal).

Both companies have quite different labels from lager to pils, dunkel, stout or alcohol free, and some fancy labels (with lemon, etc.)
I personally enjoy very much some dark ones, especially the old recipes Abadia Rubi and Abadia Gold (from Superbock, and Bohemia (from Sagres,
Cintra ( brewed in Aveiras close to Santarém, and Coral ( brewed in Madeira are other companies with less market, and in my opinion, the beers they trade are not so good... but of course it is a matter of taste.

Generally speaking in Portugal you can get a 33cl beer for 0.7€ on the supermarket, 1.2€ in most of common restaurants, 2-2.5€ at bars and upper class restaurants, 5€ in more fancy places. A nice website to compare the prices over the world

Unicer and CentralCer welcome visits to their factories. In that case email them directly and you can visit the factory and enjoy their products at the bar at the end.

Note: most of these pages are in Portuguese and according to the law these companies have a question to let you in their pages -"Are you over 18?" (or 16). In that case answer "SIM" on their webpage

A blog related to Portuguese and Spanish beers



Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Mar 6, 2009
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Portuguese Custard Tarts - Lisbon

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Portuguese Custard Tarts - Pasteis de Nata Food and drink Review

These are the famous Custard Tarts as you can find almost everywhere in Portugal.
Of course there are small variations among the different "pastelarias" (pastry houses) throughout the country. The most well known are the Pasteis de Belém, but like everything else ...when they start to be famous... sometimes the quality fades... unfortunately this was the case (although they are still quite good). I prefer the ones from small pastry houses out, unfortunately "off the touristy trail" ("Espiga Sol" in Telheiras, a neighborhood in Lisbon, for instance).

Pastry to line the containers:
• 500 g flour
• 300 g water
• 10 g salt
• 400 g margarine (for pastries)

Work the flour with water and salt, make a ball, cut it in the shape of a cross until its middle, pull the 4 sides outwards (forming a 4 point star), place the margarine in the centre and grab the points upwards (mix the margarine); with a pastry roller extend the mixture till up to 40×15 cm, fold 1×3 (simple fold) wait 10 minutes and fold again, fold 1×4 (book fold) wait 10 minutes. Extend the mixture until it gets a thickness of + or - 4 mm, sprinkle with water in all its extension. Roll it like a tort and with a diameter of + or - 4 cm, cut it in round slices 1 cm thick and place them in the containers (8 cm diameter but you can use other shapes). Wait 10 minutes.
Wet your thumb with water, press the centre of the round slice and push the mixture
to the top of the container.

Custard cream:
• 0,5 l skim milk
• 70 g flour (no raising powder)
• 5 g corn flour or cornstarch (aka Maizena)
• 0,5 L sugar syrup 32º Baumé
• 5 egg yolks
• 1 egg
• Vanilla (a bit)
To prepare the sugar syrup: 1 kg sugar, 0,5 L boiling water = 32º bumé.
Dissolve the flour and the corn flour in part of the milk, approx. 1 dL, boile the remaining of the milk, pour it over the four and mix energetically so that it does not crumble.
Add the sugar syrup bit by bit, always stirring. Add the yolks and the egg.
Cook at approx. 180º C (350º F) for about 8 minutes, not more.


Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Aug 28, 2007
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