Lisbon is a wonderful city, full of rich history featuring a diverse cast of characters who have undeniably left their mark on Portugal’s capital. One of the things that makes Portugal a great food city is their access to fresh ingredients, whether it’s the farm-fresh fruits and vegetables coming in from the fertile farmland nearby, the fish coming from the oceans and rivers within a few miles of Lisbon, or the meat coming from small family farms on the outskirts of the city.
Oh, and the wine, of course. You can’t forget the wine. Portuguese wine is both tasty and cheap, which begs the question, why don’t you find more of it abroad (the answer, according to two separate Portuguese locals we interacted with, is “so there’s more for us to drink”).
We spent a week in total walking and eating our way through Lisbon, and have some thoughts on where to go to get great gluten free food. In this guide to eating gluten free in Lisbon, Portugal, we’ll take you through some of the things to watch out for, our favorite dedicated gluten free restaurants in Lisbon, some other restaurants that can accommodate people with Celiac Disease, and where to shop for groceries if you’re planning to cook for yourself.
Planning a trip to Portugal? Don’t miss our other Portugal travel guides, which we’ve written to help you plan the perfect trip to Portugal.
- 3 Days in Lisbon: How to Plan the Perfect Lisbon Itinerary
- Where to Stay in Lisbon: A Complete Guide to 4 Amazing Areas to Stay
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would never recommend something to you that I don’t stand behind 100%.
Things to Know Before Traveling to Lisbon Gluten Free
Before heading to Lisbon, here are a few things you should know when it comes to gluten free eating in Portugal.
The Portuguese Celiac Association (Associação Portuguesa de Celíacos) was very helpful as I was planning my trip and scouring Lisbon for safe places to eat. They have a list of certified restaurants (which you can find here), and general tips for visiting Portugal as a Celiac. I’d recommend that you read both. Most of the spots below are certified by the APC.
In grocery stores, look for a red gluten free symbol that looks like the one below. It is mandatory in Portugal and most of the EU to bold any allergens that are found in the product, including wheat, barley, rye, and even oats! That means that most of the hidden gluten that you might come across in the United States isn’t as hard to decipher, which is honestly a way better way of doing things (where you at, FDA?).
There are a ton of naturally gluten free dishes in Portugal, whose cuisine has a lot of grilled fish and meat alongside boiled potatoes, rice, and vegetables. However, there is still going to be a risk of cross-contamination at most restaurants. Here are some things to watch out for.
- Shared fryers: French fries, for example, can often be prepared in fryers that also fry things with gluten. As a rule, I generally avoid all fried foods when traveling unless I’m 100% confident that it’s a dedicated fryer. You’ll have to ask about the fryer in most cases.
- Bouillon in rice: Some rice is prepared using bouillon cubes, which almost always contain wheat. You’ll have to ask.
- Grilled fish served on bread: A lot of places in Portugal will happily make you some sort of grilled fish – cod, sardines, etc. – but it’s often served either on top of bread, or bread is somewhere on the plate. Make sure to communicate that you don’t want bread!
- Alheira: I found out about this type of sausage on our walking tour in Lisbon – in the 1500’s, Jewish people were persecuted in Portugal and forced to convert to Christianity. Many of them made sausage out of meats other than pork to hang from the ceiling as a way of avoiding the ire of Christians and the Inquisition and signalling “we’re Christians, we swear!”. For texture, they added bread crumbs, which of course is a problem for us Celiacs. Avoid all Alheira sausage, and ask about any sausages that aren’t explicitly defined on a menu.
My friend Jodi over at Legal Nomads has a fantastic guide to what is and isn’t usually gluten free in Portugal, which you can read here.
As always, make sure to communicate your needs to your server. Get specific. If you don’t speak Portuguese…
Invest in a Good Gluten Free Restaurant Card
I always travel with a gluten free restaurant card. And while I can get by in French, Spanish, and occasionally Italian, I quickly learned that Portuguese isn’t my thing.
The first time I tried to speak Portuguese, I tried to say “I would like a single espresso, please” and the woman started laughing. Both of my brothers, who were with us for most of the Lisbon leg, joined in.
Later in the trip when we made it up to Porto, I tried to ask if the server spoke English. She responded with “Excuse me, what?!” Which again drew laughs from Alysha and my brother.
All this is to say that Portuguese is a tough language to master even if you speak other romance languages. There’s something vaguely eastern European happening, which addled my brain and made me completely unable to communicate.
Luckily, most people we encountered spoke good English – especially when you compare their English to my Portuguese! – but there were a couple times where communication was tough.
For those times, I highly recommend investing in a gluten free restaurant card that has a detailed description of what you need – including cross-contamination, which is something that most cards fail to address. The free cards are fine, but they completely neglect cross-contamination, which as you probably know is roughly 92% of the battle to begin with.
I love the cards that Jodi at Legal Nomads has put together. They’re comprehensive, tailored to the specific country (for example, the Portuguese card calls out Alheira as unsafe), and translated by a local Celiac for accuracy. It’ll cost you $9 for peace of mind on your trip, which is completely worth it for me. You can either print it out in advance (that’s what I usually do) or pull it up on your phone whenever you need it.
Gluten Free Lisbon: A Complete Guide to the Best Gluten Free Restaurants in Lisbon
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, onwards to where to find gluten free food in Lisbon.
This is not every single place that could potentially serve you a gluten free meal. Instead, it’s a collection of our favorite spots in Lisbon, with notes on what to order and expect.
As always, it goes without saying that things change in restaurants ALL THE TIME. You need to confirm with the restaurant – preferably in advance, if possible (I love Instagram DM’s for that) that they can serve you a safe meal.
Eating out gluten free always comes with a risk. My philosophy is about minimizing that risk as much as possible. Your needs, preferences, and risk tolerance may be different from mine. Here are a couple of rules I follow to give you a baseline for what my needs and risk tolerance look like to help you evaluate the places below:
- I do not eat food made in a shared fryer. In fact, I almost always avoid fried food unless I can 100% confirm the fryer is not used to fry something with gluten (spoiler: it usually is).
- I don’t do gluten free pizza in places that aren’t dedicated gluten free UNLESS I am 100% certain that they aren’t cooking and preparing things in the same areas without precautions.
- I always check with the restaurant ahead of time, if possible, to confirm that they can serve me a safe meal. Sometimes, they’re up front about it and say that they can’t. And that’s totally fine – I appreciate the honesty. But that does mean that they won’t be on the list below.
With that out of the way, off we go!
If you’re short on time, here are the five gluten free dishes / items that I think you should eat while you’re in Lisbon.
- Gluten free pastéis de nata at Zarzuela (their other gluten free pastries are also pretty solid).
- The pao de queijo at the Food for Real, which were the #1 pick by my two brothers, neither of whom need to eat gluten free.
- Take your pick of any pastry or tart at Despensa N. 6. We had a mango passionfruit tart and a salted almond cacao tart, both were fantastic.
- Basically any gelato that comes out of Grom. Everything is gluten free, even the cones.
- Canned fish from Miss Can, served over some Schar bread you pick up at the grocery store.
The Best Dedicated Gluten Free Restaurants in Lisbon
There are four dedicated gluten free spots in Lisbon that I was able to find. Three of them are restaurants or bakeries, the other one is a gelato shop.
You should absolutely prioritize these spots over the course of your time in Lisbon, if you can.
The Food for Real
The Food for Real was the consensus pick for our favorite gluten free meal in Lisbon. Plus, they’re accredited by the APC (the Portuguese Celiac Association)! They have two locations in Lisbon – one by the LX Factory, and one up north outside of the historical center. We ended up at the location near LX Factory for an early lunch, and had our pick of the litter when it came to their cakes and pastries. They have a bunch of vegan options, and the entire facility is gluten free.
The restaurant’s menu rotates seasonally, but it always includes the pao de queijo, which is a Brazilian cheese bread made with tapioca that we often make at home, and is downright delicious. Theirs is obviously about a hundred times better than anything we’ve ever made for ourselves, and they even have a vegan version! It’s gooey, cheesy, a little salty, and everything else we love about food.
In addition to the outstanding pao de queijo, we also tried a couple of their cakes (10:30 am is the perfect time for cake, obviously). The chocolate/vanilla/coconut cake was fantastic. It reminded us of a German chocolate cake, but that’s not how they described it. The carrot cake was a brilliant orange color, and was topped with a chocolate frosting. The texture was great, but it wasn’t quite what we were expecting from a carrot cake based on our experience back home. Still good, but different.
The last thing we tried were their empadas, which are NOT the same thing as empanadas. The closest thing I can think of to compare them to is a quiche, except they aren’t made with eggs. We tried the cheese and vegan options, and were split down the middle in terms of which was better between the four of us (three of whom, again, are not gluten free by necessity). The cheese was…cheesy. The vegan option was full of garlic, spinach, and a variety of other veggies. The crust on both was good – it held up and didn’t immediately crumble, which is always the problem with gluten free crusts.
Dois Três Três
This place was a treat. It wasn’t flashy – they have a small rotating menu of home cooked gluten free dishes – but it was hearty, satisfying, and well worth the visit. I’d go for lunch, if you can, and get the set menu that comes with a soup, a main dish, and dessert.
We had the feijoada, which was something that was on my list to try while we were in Portugal, and did not disappoint. It’s a stew that comes from northern Portugal (though it’s usually associated with Brazil, which I learned isn’t quite accurate) consisting of beans and various forms of pork cooked at a low heat for hours and hours until all the flavors meld together and create a savory symphony in your mouth. It’s hearty and delicious.
We also had grilled tuna steak, which was surprisingly good. When in Rome, right? Or in this case, when in Portugal, you eat fish. It was garlicky with the exact right amount of citrus squeezed on top. Served, as many fish dishes are, alongside boiled potatoes.
If you’re looking for a nice lunch spot in Lisbon, I recommend it. And sit out on the back patio! The only downside is that it’s a bit out of the way, but Uber is cheap and plentiful in Lisbon.
Despensa N.6 is a 100% gluten free bakery that is focused primarily on pastries, and it’s pretty far out of the way. But again, Uber is relatively cheap, and I would 100% recommend making it up north to try one of their tarts.
It’s an unassuming location on a residential street about 15-20 minutes north of the historic center of Lisbon. They focus on “healthy pastries,” which means they avoid refined sugars, corn, refined oils, or other artificial ingredients. Most importantly, they don’t use gluten. At all.
The menu is a combination of sweet and savory brunch-y options, like crepes, toasts, and eggs, and pastries of all kinds. When we were there, they had sweet tarts, cheesecake, brownies, and more. We opted for a mango-passionfruit-peach tart, which turned out to be spectacular, and a salted almond cacao tart, which reminded me of a more salty version of a peanut butter cup, but better.
The other thing we ordered was a crepe, which turned out to be massive – plenty of food for two people to share (especially if you get a pastry or seven alongside it). We got the hummus crepe, which was basically a salad topped with hummus folded into the soft, slightly warm embrace of a french-style gluten free crepe.
I first discovered Grom, a 100% gluten free gelato shop (even the cones) in Rome. Now, they’ve basically built a gluten free gelato empire with locations in New York City, a bunch of places in Italy, Lisbon, and even Los Angeles. And I, for one, am completely on board with our new gelato overlords.
There’s not much to say here, since it’s gelato which automatically means it’s fantastic. The flavors are all gluten free (we’re fans of pistachio, hazelnut, and straticatella), and the cones are also gluten free. They have cones dipped in chocolate, different toppings to choose from, and more.
Other Restaurants with Gluten Free Options in Lisbon
Here are the places in Lisbon that we found where you can get a gluten free meal. These places are not dedicated gluten free, which means there is a higher risk of cross-contact with gluten in their kitchens than those places above. Do your own due diligence and make sure you feel comfortable that each place below can meet your needs and expectations.
Go to Zarzuela for the gluten free pastéis de nata, Portugal’s national pastry (ish), stay for the other great gluten free pastries.
While they’re not 100% gluten free, they are APC certified, and have plenty of gluten and lactose free options, and several vegan options too.
There’s a full menu alongside the pastries – think burgers and pizza – but the highlight is definitely the pastries. Specifically, the pastéis de nata, which are a kind of egg custard tart that are a delicacy in Portugal. Nearly every bakery and coffee shop in Lisbon serves them, and it’s always at the top of every “must eat in Lisbon” list I’ve ever seen.
I believe this is the only place in Lisbon where you can find a gluten free pastel de nata.
As you walk in, there are several signs about allergens, and a guide to telling the server about your needs in six different languages. You’ll walk up to the counter and see the wide range of pastries, from croissants and pain au chocolat, to a bunch of other pastries of all shapes and sizes.
We had the pastel de nata and pain au chocolat. Having done a mini pastel de nata crawl with my two brothers to find the best in the city (not gluten free), Alysha’s review was that the custard taste and texture was pretty good, but the crust wasn’t as flaky or crunchy as the non-gluten free options. Which makes sense given what I know about baking with gluten free flours.
I would say similar things about the pain au chocolat. The texture wasn’t exactly what I expect from a croissant, which, again, makes sense given what I know about gluten free flours. But it was still delightful.
Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau
Pastel de bacalhau are, essentially, fried potatoes and cod filled with cheese. In other words, pretty delicious. Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau is a chain with several locations in Lisbon (and a bunch in Porto, too), including one near the Time Out Market and one near the Santa Justa Elevator.
They serve one thing and one thing only: pastel de bacalhau. They are made using a traditional method that includes cod, potato, egg, parsley and oil, and were able to confirm that there are no gluten-containing ingredients in the kitchen. However, as other Celiacs before me have noted, they were not able to confirm whether the little rice wafer that goes on top is gluten free, so I would ask for it without the wafer.
My brother, who isn’t into “fishy” flavors, wasn’t super into them. They do have a distinct fish flavor, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you should expect it going in. They are also filled with cheese – you have to ask for it with cheese, by the way, which you definitely should – so that’s definitely a plus.
Technically, they serve two things, the second being port, a sweet Portuguese wine from northern Portugal that is downright dangerous. It’s super drinkable, relatively high in alcohol, and sugary. No less than four Portuguese people told us to “be careful with port” over the course of our time in Portugal.
The port here isn’t great, but it’s worth trying if you’re not going to make it up to Porto.
Miss Can is a small shop in Alfama that basically sells one thing: canned fish. When you think of canned fish, you’re probably thinking about gross canned tuna that you’ll find in the US. This is not that. Not even close.
Canned fish in Portugal is a delicacy, and they take it very, very seriously. Portugal is at the top of the list of countries that eat the most fish per capita, and for good reason: some of the best fish in the world is found in the waters in and around Portugal. At its core, Portugal’s history and culture is intertwined with the sea, and said sea contains a bounty of fresh fish that rivals any other place in the world.
Miss Can makes fantastic canned fish using wild caught fish to protect the resources of our oceans and use them sustainably. You’ll find everything from sardines, tuna, and cod, to stuffed squid. There are a variety of sauces – we liked the spicy olive oil and the garlic olive oil the best – double check that any sauce you choose is gluten free (at the time we visited, all were).
You can eat there – the only thing in the shop that contains gluten is the bread – or get them to go and take them back to your apartment / hotel to enjoy over a slice of gluten free bread from the store. The latter would be our recommendation – you really need the bread to soak up the delicious sauces!
La Trattoria is a nice Italian restaurant that is just northwest of the city center. We didn’t end up making it out there – we ran out of time – but they have an entire gluten free menu and are accredited by the Portuguese Celiac Association. From focaccia to start, to pasta dishes like carbonara and linguine al pomodoro, you’ll have a pretty wide range of choices.
You can’t get gluten free pizza, however, which I actually think is a good thing. I’m very skeptical of gluten free pizza in general, particularly when it’s prepared and cooked in the same places as regular pizza. After you make pizza dough, the whole area generally looks like a flour truck exploded in the kitchen. Which, when that flour is not gluten free, is a cross-contamination nightmare. The fact that they don’t offer gluten free pizza (despite the fact that it’s on their regular menu) makes me think that they’re aware of the cross contamination risk and do their best to mitigate it.
Again, we didn’t make it to Rice Me on our first trip (we have another trip to Lisbon coming up – we fly home out of Lisbon), but it’s at the top of our list. They focus on rice, which means most of the menu is going to be naturally gluten free. The menu is clearly marked with allergens, and gluten only shows up a couple of times. At the time of writing, the only thing I found on the menu that DOES contain gluten is gyoza.
You can get everything from risotto, an Italian rice-based delicacy from northern Italy, to arroz de pato, a traditional Portuguese dish that is simple, hearty, and delicious. They are also APC certified.
Another place at the top of our list, we tried to go here for lunch on one of our days in Lisbon and they were closed despite the signage on the door saying that they should be open. They specialize in tapioca crepes of all kinds. If you’ve never had a tapioca crepe before, they’re a treat. They start with little balls of tapioca spread out in a pan, and as you cook them they merge together and form what looks and feels like a crepe (ish), which you can then fold over and fill with whatever your heart desires. It’s a little crunchy, a little chewy, and well worth trying.
This place has a clearly marked menu, which is why we chose it, and only a few fillings contain gluten so risk of cross contamination is relatively low.
Although I was never a huge fan of McDonalds even pre-diagnosis (except their Oreo McFlurry, which I remember being life changing), you can get a safe gluten free meal at McDonalds in Portugal. So I had to try it. For science, of course.
Honestly, it was better than I expected. The easiest way to order is through the electronic kiosks, which have an entire gluten free section where you can order one of several burger options (the hamburger, cheeseburger, and double cheeseburger appeared to be APC certified, while the others – including the Big Mac – were not), fries, and more.
The fries in Portugal are also gluten free. The best discovery of the trip to McDonalds was their curry sauce, which is absolutely fantastic for dipping fries.
Now that we’ve done gluten free McDonalds, I think Portugal should do Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme next!
I want to start this one out with some transparency – Chutnify told me that they could not guarantee a meal completely free from cross-contamination because they have a small kitchen that cooks items that contain gluten like naan and samosas. Most of their menu is naturally gluten free – and clearly marked on the menu, I might add – including dosa and curries.
I took that information and made the decision to stick to curries and rice, which I know to be generally safe (especially when they’re marked gluten free on the menu, like they are here). You may feel differently about the risk, so I wanted to give you that piece of information so you can make the right decision for yourself.
All that being said, the curries were fantastic. The butter chicken, which I love but also recognize is not exactly a traditional Indian dish, was among the best I’ve ever had, and my brothers agreed that it’s right up there with our favorite restaurant in Seattle. The palak paneer was also a standout.
Their location in Principe Real is a hole in the wall, but it’s in a great neighborhood with tons of restaurants, bars, and cafes to choose from.
Grocery Stores with Gluten Free Options in Lisbon
When we land in a new city, my first stop is almost always a grocery store to pick up a few staples to cook breakfast for ourselves, and pack some snacks for long days of sightseeing. Then, whenever we pass a new grocery store, I almost always detour to go in and check out their gluten free selection, which sometimes drives Alysha crazy.
There are several spots in Lisbon to get gluten free groceries – here’s our take on where to go.
Pingo Doce is, by far, our top pick. Both in terms of number of locations, and in terms of gluten free selection. They have a dedicated gluten free section with several products from Schar like bread and knockoff gluten free Oreos, though that’s about it.
Contiente is another option, but it’s not as easy to find, at least in Baixa, where we stayed. The selection is roughly similar, and the shopping experience is about the same as Pingo Doce.
Go Natural is a great option with a much wider array of gluten free products, all helpfully arranged in their own section of the store. They have pasta, bread, crackers, and more, all displayed together in their own section. The downside is that there are only a few locations – though there is one in Chiado near Convento do Carmo – and the prices are higher than other places.
BioMercado is in Lisbon’s financial district (at least that was our impression), and focuses on exclusively organic products. They have a small selection of gluten free items, including bread, baguettes, and focaccia from Schnitzer, a German brand. But the selection was fairly poor, and the prices were fairly high. Plus, if you only have a couple of days in Lisbon, you probably won’t be making it that far north.
Planning a trip to Portugal? Here are our other Portugal travel guides to help you plan an incredible trip (even if you have to eat gluten free!). If there’s no link below, it means we’re still working on it – long, in-depth guides take time! We’re working on it, though, we promise.
- 10 Days in Portugal: Planning the Perfect Portugal Itinerary
- Where to Stay in Lisbon: Our Guide to 4 Amazing Places to Stay
- 3 Days in Lisbon: How to Plan the Perfect Lisbon Itinerary
- The Best Coffee in Lisbon: 9 Amazing Lisbon Coffee Shops to Add to Your List
- Gluten Free Porto, Portugal: A Complete Guide for Celiacs
- 3 Days in Porto: Planning the Perfect Porto Itinerary
- Where to Stay in Porto, Portugal: The 3 Best Places to Stay
- A Complete Guide to Planning an Algarve Road Trip (3-7 Days)
- How to Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail: Complete Trail Guide
If you liked this guide, we’ve got some other gluten free travel guides to help you plan your trip, discover something new, and have an incredible time – all 100% gluten free.