A big part of experiencing Lisbon is eating the local cuisine; “bacalhau” (codfish), petiscos (Portuguese version of tapas), choco (cuttlefish) and much more. If you are not a big fan of sitting in a restaurant on your own, Lisbon offers a couple of great places to eat really nice food in a casual way.
Mercado da Ribeira
The Mercado da Ribeira is Lisbons most famous and popular food market. Located close to the river Tejo and Cais do Sodre (metro, train and boat hub), the beautiful old building with dome is a must visit for most people who come to Lisbon.
In 2014 Time Out created this foodie hangout place that offers tourists and Lisboetas the chance to taste authentic Portuguese food from several restaurants and retailers in the city. Although it started with mostly Portuguese restaurants, now you can also find sushi and other international options. Besides lunch and dinner, you can also try other Portuguese delicacies like Portuguese wine, ginja (cherry licor), olive oil and pastel de nata. Prices vary per restaurant, but it is not cheap. It is the kind of place where you get to taste quality food, but portions are small.
What makes this place attractive for solo travellers are the long tables. No formal dining, everyone orders their food and sits down at one of the tables. The walking around of people looking for food and drinks makes this place a little bit chaotic in a fun way. It definitely lowers the boundaries to talk to each other and for those who just want to focus on their amazing food, it is a great way to disappear in the crowd.
English spoken (many understand Spanish and/ or French as well)
Location: central and safe
Meeting people: 😃
Opening hours: Sun-Wed 10.00–00.00, Thurs-Sun 10.00–02.00.
Mercado de Campo Ourique
Mercado de Campo Ourique has a pretty similar concept to Mercado da Ribeira, but since it is located in a residential neighbourhood it is a lot less touristy.
In the weekends you will find Portuguese families having lunch and on Friday and Saturday evenings it is buzzing with 30+ Portuguese meeting their friends and enjoying a meal. If your Portuguese does not go any further than “ola” and “obrigada”, do not worry. Even though there are not so many tourists at this market, it won’t be hard to find people that speak English. Join some people at a table, ask them what they can recommend and guaranteed you will have a nice chat with a local person as Portuguese are proud of their food and love talking about it.
Although I prefer this market to Mercado da Ribeira, because it is less touristy, it is a bit harder to get in contact with other people for the introverts amongst us. Portuguese are very friendly and willing to chat, but if you are looking for a partner to explore the nightlife afterwards, chances are higher in Mercado da Ribeira. Also because of its location.
Location: outside the touristy area (tram 28 will take you there), safe,
Meeting people: 😊
Opening hours: Sun -Wed 10.00–00.00, Mon-Tue 10.00–23.00, Thur-Sat 10.00–13.00
Mercado de Fusão
Praça Martim Moniz is a multicultural square in the centre of Lisbon. Not very long ago Martim Moniz was not such a safe place to go, but in 2012 the project of Mercado Fusão changed that and now it has 10 kiosks with food from different countries of the world! Every kiosk has a couple of tables and umbrellas to protect you from the sun (or rain).
The restaurants are always there and sometimes food trucks are added to the square because of a multiculural event. Check their facebook page for events. Although the atmosphere is very laid back and relaxed, meeting people here demands a little bit more effort from your side than in the mercados. It is a great place though for some people watching and experiencing another side of Lisbon.
Not everyone speaks English, but most menus are offered in English
Location: centre and relatively safe
Meeting people: 😐
Opening hours: Sun-Thur 11.00–22.00, Frid-Sat 11.00–00.00