Portuguese cuisine tends towards the solid and not particularly cheap in tourist areas, but pick the right place in one of Portugal’s more sophisticated areas, such as Lisbon’s Bairro Alto or the Algarve’s Lagos, and you can have an excellent, interesting meal for a reasonable price.
Seafood is particularly impressive and sardines are the best value. Bacalhau – salted cod – is the national dish and is served in a thousand different ways, many of them edible.
Away from Lisbon and the Algarve food is much better value; good value snacks are commonly available, including filling soups for lunch – though soup is not normally served alone.
One of the Portugal’s most unique customs is the almost obligatory cover charge for bread, butter, olives and some kind of paste.
Coffees are wonderful and house wines are drinkable by all but connoisseurs. Try a glass of cold white port too. Local beers are OK, and the black/stout beers are better than OK.
Portugal’s unique approach to a cover charge usually includes bread, butter, olives, paste (sardine/tuna etc. ). You can try to send it back, though you may be met by some resistance, so the best option is to factor it into your menu or appetite decision, enjoy the olives and paste and be happy to fork out a couple of € for the pleasure.
If you don’t touch it you will probably still be charged for it so if you really don’t want it and don’t mind about your relationship with the waiter, send it back.
Grilled sardines are the cheapest fish available. This meal, from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, including two glasses of wine, cost about €8 in 2004.
Breakfast is the most disappointing meal of the day, usually consisting of unnatural orange juice, bread roll, jam and coffee or tea.
Portuguese is similar to Spanish in many ways, though they are not over-fond of their Spanish neighbours so English is in some ways better to use than good Spanish. Or start with English and switch to Spanish if necessary?
Whatever, at least learn Bom Dia, Boa Tarde, Desculpe, Por Favor, Obrigado and Adeus/Chao.