So, you’re going to Europe and you want to eat vegetarian only? The guidebooks say: ha! But while most European country’s staple dishes involve meat (looking at you, Spain), I was pleasantly surprised at how many options there were in Portugal for vegetarian eaters. Here in Winnipeg, there are very few actual “vegetarian” restaurants. Usually, we find ourselves going to grab Thai or Indian food since those types of cuisines tend to have the most options.
And while I am not vegetarian myself, after researching some menus in Lisbon and Porto, it became obvious that it would be much easier to dine with my veg boyfriend if we marked down some of these specialty eateries prior to takeoff. Here are just a few restaurants that I tried while in Portugal…
Restaurante Vegetariano Psi
Alameda Santo António dos Capuchos, 1150 Lisboa, Portugal
The uber ride to Restaurante Vegetariano Psi was well worth it. I’m not afraid to venture a little outside my home base when travelling, especially if good food is on the line. Psi had a rather large fusion-style menu; with options such as Shakshouka, veggie burgers, and red thai curry all on the same page. While there was a playground right next door, the restaurant itself maintained a relaxed, sophisticated vibe with indoor (tent) and outdoor seating by candlelight. We both agreed: this was the best place we ate in Portugal!
Rua de Santa Catarina 17, Lisbon 1200-401, Portugal
R. de São João da Praça 93-95, 1100-521 Lisboa, Portugal
We marked Pois, Cafe on our maps as we set out to explore the old part of Lisbon: the Alfama. The space itself was easy, breezy and welcoming, with eclectic decor that mirrored the historic neighbourhood while also presenting something entirely fresh. I should mention that if you (outrageously) aren’t a fan of sandwiches, Portugal probably isn’t the destination for you. Toasts, sandwiches, breads…it’s always on the menu in Portugal, and Pois,Cafe was no exception. And like many other sandwich shops in Lisbon, there were plenty of veg-friendly options on the menu!
387, R. da Rosa 14, 1200-387 Lisboa, Portugal
Roaming through the Bairro Alto in the evening, we were looking for a spot to grab some appetizers and drinks, and just soak in the atmosphere of this lively area of the city. Luckily, we had marked TascaMastai on our map. The restaurant was small, artsy and hip – like so many others in Lisbon – but this one definitely stood out to me. You could tell by how the bartender (and owner, I believe) interacted with patrons that it was indeed, a beloved neighbourhood staple. It checked off everything on our list for the evening as we sipped on ciders and beers and tried a variety of different bruschetta.
Time Out Market
Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-109 Lisboa, Portugal
While not exactly a restaurant, the Time Out Market is a must-visit while in Lisbon. With our Airbnb located quite close to the market, we visited several times to try the different vendors and foods available. For vegetarians, there are plenty of options for lunch or dinner – pizza, croquettes, tarts, you name it! It was also my first introduction to the mouth-watering pastel de nata (custard tarts) which became a bit of an obsession for me on the trip. The crowds got a little insane in the evening, so I would definitely recommend it as a lunch spot if you want to count on finding a place to sit.
Duas de Letra
Passeio de São Lázaro 48, 4000-175 Porto, Portugal
Moving onto the hip and quaint city of Porto, we once again found many dining options to pick from. One close to our Airbnb was Duas de Letra, a cute little cafe featuring brick walls, specialty coffees, desserts and of course…sandwiches! You can expect a fantastic menu of the day; which featured chickpea stew on the day we visited.
R. de Mouzinho da Silveira 249, 4000 Porto, Portugal
One culinary trend that I desperately want to make its way to Canada is vegetarian buffets. We went to several in Portugal and loved the creativity of options and of course, the buffet-style eating that called for heaping plates and several trips back in line. daTERRA was clearly a very popular spot in the city as it was bustling when we arrived. It was however, easy enough to get a seat and the dishes were replenished often.
Cultura dos Sabores
R. de Ceuta 80, Porto, Portugal
While it’s quite difficult to choose, I think this was my favourite vegetarian buffet in Portugal; partly for design, partly for food. The interior was bright and sunny, located at the top of a hill. There were swinging benches to sit on (or normal seats, if you’re boring like us) and a short but delicious row of food to choose from. It was quite empty when we arrived, making for ease of going back and forth to try nearly everything. One dish that stood out to me was the fried bananas; again, not something you would find easily here in Winnipeg.
While it’s possible to eat vegetarian nearly anywhere you go in Portugal, I recommend making a list prior to your departure and marking the restaurants on an app like Tripcipe so that you never find yourself in a bind! Take it from me: hangry should never be part of a vacation.