1. In the restaurants, as a couvert, bread or rolls with butter (sometimes with olives, cream cheese, hard cheese, tuna, some paste or pie) are automatically placed on your table. As a general rule, you only pay for what you eat. If you eat - let us say - half the cream cheese only, you still have to pay for all the portions. If you don't want an extra charge, don't touch the couvert at all. Couverts in mid-range restaurants should cost no more than two Euros per person and in high-range restaurants not more than five Euros.
2. Fish dishes:
We recommend you choose sea bass (robalo) or sole (linguado). These have good taste and easy-to-handle bones. Prefer fishes that are grilled over charcoal (na brasa). Caution: If you order small fishes (like Sardines), your role is to remove the bitter-tasting innards.
3. Side dishes:
The most common side dishes are rice or potatoes, e.g., French fries. Vegetables are seldom offered as a side dish. These are almost exclusively served in soups. An exception could be the boiled cabbage leaves served to the codfish (bacalhau) and - as a Portuguese peculiarity - pickled vegetables to steaks.
“In terms of calorie intake, a holiday in an all-inclusive Turkish hotel is a weight-loss boot camp compared to a week spent in Portugal. In addition to eggs, bacon, and sandwiches, they offer irresistible pastries in sweet and savory versions. As well as cheeses. Divine cheeses! Creamy, camembert-like, spoonable, white wonders, and slices of soft and hard cheeses in all shades from pale yellow to deep orange. Until now, I thought France was the cheese superpower, but in the supermarket, I realized how wrong I was. In several rows, towers of tastefully packaged, rounded disks and neat little boxes of cheese. The same was true of the various salamis and sausages as well. The best known of these is chorizo, which is made from world-famous Portuguese pork.
The latter products come largely from the central part of the country, Alentejo, where hungry black pigs gorge themselves on acorns. It is said that this is what gives the pigs there their wonderful taste.
In restaurants, there are always a few slices of bread or rolls on the table, as well as a small tub of butter, and these can be eaten as appetizers while we wait for our order, or even for soups, which the Portuguese seem fond of. Some popular varieties include ‘stone soup’ which includes a bit of everything, cabbage soup, and – especially in Alentejo – coriander soup. They also eat cooked food for lunch and dinner, usually including several dishes, accompanied by wine, with concentrated, sweet milk cakes as a dessert. Although largely healthy things are on the plates – fish, olive oil, olives, salads, fruit – the end of the meal always worsens the WHO statistics, as meals usually end with strong coffee and cigarettes, even at 11 in the evening if dinner stretches on long enough. Portuguese people are passionate about espresso coffee, of which they consume 4-5 cups a day.” (Gerda, 2014)
“Wherever we went, we couldn’t find any typical Portuguese dishes other than seafood and steak. As a matter of fact, the steak with fried eggs, French fries, and salad is not really typical, and since it was relatively expensive (€ 9-10), we preferred not to try it. As far as fish is concerned, they are prepared similarly in all southern and Mediterranean countries. Maybe there were more kinds of sweets and cakes you wouldn’t get at home like the pasta de nata offered on most tourist sites, and other similar cakes filled with vanilla/cream. The only local dish was a sandwich filled with roast beef called a bifana. It costs an average of €1 and is very delicious, perfect for warding off starvation – for an hour or two at least. The other thing I can recommend is the cheeses. We got local cheese as an appetizer in a restaurant, it was superb, with delicious herbs!
As far as drinks are concerned, there is no typical Portuguese national drink, except for Porto wine, although in fact, it is an invention of the English. The local and ubiquitous beer is, according to my partner, horrible (I don’t drink beer). Beer drinkers are at a disadvantage here. As I wrote above, good coffee has a great culture here, and really very, very delicious coffee is sold everywhere. For those who make coffee more than just a revivifying drink, there are plenty of great aromas to choose from. For starters, an espresso, complemented by some local cake, is a perfect choice, and it’s a great feeling to sit on the terrace of a cafe, sipping coffee and watching the life of the city.” (2017)