Dining Out In Portugal

Whether you’re just visiting or planning to live in Portugal, learning some food vocabulary is going to be pretty important! 😆
Let’s start with comer fora going out to eat

Breakfast & Coffee

There are cafés cafés, coffee shops and pastelarias bakeries, which are often part of the same establishment, for snacks and light meals. This is where you’ll go for um pequeno-almoço a breakfast or um lanche a snack.

Perhaps you’ll ask for um café a coffee and the world-famous pastel de nata custard tart. Note: A pastel is usually a small tart or cake, which can be sweet, like the pastel de nata, or savoury, like the pastel de bacalhau codfish cake.

Unfortunately for those who like protein-rich breakfasts, it’s less common to find ovos eggs on the traditional Portuguese breakfast menu.

There are many different typical coffee beverages in Portugal. If you just order um café a coffee you will receive an espresso, unless you specify otherwise. Some of the most common options are um galão, which has more milk than coffee and is served in a tall glass; uma meia de leite, which has half milk and half coffee and is served in a cup; and um abatanado, which is espresso with extra water and is, at most cafés, the closest you will get to a full cup of drip coffee. If you want this last one with milk just ask for um abatanado pingado american with a “drop" of milk. To further complicate things, not all places in Portugal use the term abatanado, so you can also just try asking for um americano.

Tip: If you simply ask for café, don’t be surprised when you receive an espresso by default. And also don’t be surprised if you get a funny look when you order coffee before a meal instead of after, or when you ask for cream (natas) with your coffee! These practices are not common in Portugal. #estrangeiroproblems.

Lunch & Dinner

For almoço lunch and jantar dinner, you might go out to um restaurante a restaurant.

If you’re looking to fill up on grease, “fast food” is a phrase common to hear in Portuguese conversation. You might also hear its Portuguese equivalent, comida rápida.

Tip: Just in case you’re on a tight schedule, beware that meal time can be rather sacred for the Portuguese, as they often like to enjoy it without rushing!

Shopping

For those who prefer home-cooked meals, you can find your ingredientes ingredients at mercearias grocery stores and mercados markets, which are for smaller, everyday purchases, wheras supermercados supermarkets and hipermercados hypermarkets are better for buying in bulk or finding international products. These are often found in larger shopping areas and tend to carry a wider variety and quantity of products.

Tip: In Portugal, 24-hour convenience stores (aside from gas station shops 🤢) are not really a thing, so just make sure you’ve got everything you need before the stores close (around 9:30pm, at least in Lisbon).

Differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese

If you’ve learned some Brazilian Portuguese in the past, keep in mind that there are many vocabulary differences when it comes to food. Here are a few common ones:

English European Portuguese Brazilian Portuguese
breakfast pequeno-almoço café da manhã
café, coffee shop café cafeteria
butcher shop talho açougue
ice cream gelado sorvete
juice sumo suco
draught beer, draft beer imperial, fino chope
pasta massa macarrão
pineapple ananás abacaxi

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