Congratulations – you’ve made it to Lisbon: a foodie’s paradise! You want to try a Portuguese prego sandwich but your travel buddy wants grilled fish and your other friends are just dying to sample Portuguese wine and beer. Maybe your kids won’t stop whining until they have one more pastel de nata. You might be starting to wonder if, next time, you should just come on your own. There aren’t enough meals in the day to satisfy everyone’s wishes. Fortunately for you, Mercado da Ribeira will save the day… and perhaps even your vacation.
This food market began in 1892. Nowadays, the mornings still function like a typical farmer’s market where you can buy fresh produce (if you’re staying at a rental apartment, why not get some fresh ingredients here to cook at home?). Think fresh bread, dried cod, charcuterie, cheeses, fruit and vegetables, as well as flowers and stationery.
In 2014, TimeOut Lisbon magazine took over the management and gave the market a revamp by adding new stalls. You can now have lunch or dinner or everything in between (lanche please) here. Different restaurant/cafe/shops line the four walls of the market. In the center, you’ll find drinks stands and full bars. There’s a gin bar, a port bar and a champagne bar, and plenty more. Seating is communal and you just sit down where you find a seat. This brings me to my first top tip…
Top tip #1: Avoid busy times (1-2:30 pm and 7-9:30 pm) because it does get very busy and you may find yourself with a tray in your hand and nowhere to sit and eat. Or you may struggle to get a larger party to sit together – and that’s no fun!
So what kind of food can you eat there? Almost everything you can think of! Specialty burgers from Honorato, pizza by the slice, and even sushi. Of course, there are plenty of traditional Portuguese food stalls as well: Portuguese steaks, traditional caco sandwiches, seafood, soups, charcuterie, and even mini versions of restaurants by known Portuguese chefs. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you’re in luck because Mercado da Ribeira has some great options: Arcádia chocolates, Santini ice creams, and enough cakes and tarts that will leave you wanting to come back again.
Top tip #2: If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you can pick up some treats to go! (Do this)
Because there’s something for everybody at Mercado da Ribeira, everybody is happy. Vacation disaster averted! Good job, you!
Address: 481, Av. 24 de Julho, 1200 Lisboa