Salat mit Walnüssen, Tomaten, Radieschen und Schafskäse in Há Tapas no Mercado, Lissabon by Marco Verch via Flickr Creative Commons

Eating is among the favorite pastimes of the Portuguese. The nation’s signature dish, dried cod called bacalhau, can be cooked a different way for every day of the year. Most traditional Portuguese meals start with olives, freshly baked bread, and a green soup called caldo verde and include grilled meats. Forks are often necessary for fish soup, while rice is the most commonly served side dish. Main courses include roast baby goat, a shrimp stew called açorda de mariscos or fried pork with clam sauce. The national dessert is a delicious and much coveted custard tart called pastel de nata. Several of the spices used in today’s cooking were originally imported during the country's explorations of Asian, and many salads are sprinkled with salt. Among Portugal’s tastier treats are roasted chestnuts sold from street stalls in the fall. Although the cuisine is not especially vegetarian-friendly, many meat-free options are available at popular choose-five-items salad bars and growing numbers of international restaurants.

Bars and Pubbing in Portugal

Portugal’s nightlife begins and ends notoriously late. Many clubs don't open until 1 or 2 a.m., and close well after sunrise. Lisbon’s bars close comparatively early at 2:00 a.m. during the week and 3:00 a.m. on weekends.

One of Lisbon’s trendiest clubs is Silk (Rua da Misericórdia 14, Lisbon), a black and fuschia building whose sixth floor boasts a candlelit outdoor deck with 270 degree views and whose plush couches have probably seen more action than anywhere else in the capital. Another hotspot is CINCO Lounge (Rua Ruben A. Leitão 17A, Lisbon), whose cocktail menu contains no fewer than 100 drink choices. No visit to Lisbon would be complete without a relaxing night at one of the city’s famous fado clubs, one of the oldest of which is Adega Machado (Rua do Norte 91, Lisbon), which has hosted Portugal’s most famous performers since 1937.

One of Porto’s best watering holes is Solar Vinho do Porto (Rua de Entre-Quintas 220, Porto), a serene villa where visitors can relax with a glass of the region's finest port wine and cheese. Livelier nightlife can be found in the Ribeira district, where Prioridade (Rua da Lada 76/78, 4050) serves up some of the city’s cheapest beer. The area is also a popular place to pregame and start the night before heading to Porto’s trendier dance clubs like POP (Rua Padre Luis Cabral 1090, Porto) or Twins (Rua do Passeio Alegre 1000, Porto).

Portugal’s liveliest nightlife outside the major cities is found around the Algarve beach resorts. Two of Albufeira’s most popular watering holes are the comfortable and unpretentious Classic Bar (Rua Cândido dos Reis 8, Albufeira) and the more upbeat Fastnet Bar (Rua Cândido dos Reis 10, Albufeira), a favorite dance spot.

Dining and Cuisine in Portugal

Soft piano music plays as dinner is served at Clara Restaurante (Campo dos Mártires da Pátria 49, Lisbon), one of Lisbon’s most elegant fine dining restaurants. Gambrinus (Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 23, Lisbon) serves up some of the capital's most exotic seafood and finest dry white port wine alongside a stand-up shellfish bar. The warm fireplaces at Casa da Comida (Travessa de Amoreiras 1, Lisbon) are among the most romantic dining spots during Portugal’s cool foggy nights.

One of Porto’s most elegant restaurants is Churrascão do Mar (Rua João Grave 134, Porto), which serves grilled seafood and Brazilian cuisine inside a restored 19th century Belle Époque manor. Countless celebrities have dined at Don Tonho, (Cais de Ribeira 13-15, Porto), but its freshly caught seafood remain affordable for visitors from all walks of life. Contemporary artwork hangs throughout Aqua Douro (Praça de Ribeira 1, Porto), a modern restaurant overlooking the Douro River.

Albufeira is home to many of the Portugal’s finest dining spots, including Alfredo (Rua do 5 de Outubro 9-11, Albufeira), located on the second floor of a 100-year-old building steps from the bustling market square. O Cabaz da Praia (Praça Miguel Bombarda 7, Albufeira), whose name means "the beach basket," serves tasty seafood inside a former seaside fishermen’s cottage.

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