Gluten Free Lisbon

Thank you to my lovely friend and fellow gluten free traveller, Sofia Morais, for writing this article on living gluten free in Portugal, and in particular Lisbon, where she currently lives. I am yet to explore the beautiful country of Portugal but meeting her and hearing about living gluten free in Lisbon makes me eager to visit!

At Open Brasserie

GF Options at Open Brasserie



What I love most about my country is the generally warm and sunny climate, the beautiful beaches and the food. I adore simple delights such as eating fresh grilled fish on a terrace overlooking the sea.  Finding a relaxing place to recharge is not difficult in Portugal.

If you are considering planning a trip to discover what Portugal had to offer, don’t let the challenges which come with being coeliac or being restricted to a gluten free diet make you have second thoughts. I have been living gluten free in Lisbon for over a year now and through my experience I can safely say that whilst travelling gluten free in Portugal may not be the easiest of tasks, it’s definitely possible if you come prepared and know the right places to look for safe and delicious food.

Don’t expect your average Portuguese man or woman to know what coeliac disease is or what the word gluten means. They probably won’t. Someone in his 20’s/30’s may have a vague understanding of what it is but is unlikely to know which foods contain it unless someone close to him is coeliac or gluten intolerant. In saying this, during the past year I have seen a variety of new products with clear gluten free labelling arrive on the market. I have also seen more restaurants which include gluten free options on their menus. I have even had a few people tell me stories about friends or relatives who have a similar issue with gluten. Often you are not aware of how your city caters for a group of people until you become that group of people so now that I can’t eat gluten, I’m slowly learning how Portugal caters for locals and visitors who can’t eat gluten either.

The most popular supermarket chains around the country have gluten free sections and these stores can be found in many cities throughout Portugal including Lisbon. These large supermarket chains provide gluten free sections..

Unfortunately there aren’t too many options when it comes to having a meal out or finding a bakery with gluten free options. Your choice is to eat at one of the few coeliac friendly places or explain your situation and what you can and cannot eat to any restaurant that takes your fancy and make the decision yourself on whether or not you can trust them to keep you safe.

These are my favorite restaurants if you find yourself in Lisbon looking for somewhere delicious and gluten free to eat…

  • La Trattoria which is located on Rua de Artilharia 1 in the centre of Lisbon has a gluten free menu which includes various pasta dishes for around 12-14 Euros. Since the only gluten free dish they do is pasta this is what I always order but I make sure to vary my choice of sauce each time.
  • Open Brasserie Mediterrânica on Rua de Santa Marta 48, also in the centre of Lisbon, has a gluten and lactose free menu. I’ve only eaten here once but I loved it. I had fish and vegetables for my main course followed by a dessert made with melon. It even came with a little heart design on it. :)
  • Telepizza is a chain with various locations in and around Lisbon as well as in other cities across Portugal. Their gluten free pizza menu is varied and suitable for coeliacs. Their website includes information on how they prepare their gluten free pizzas to avoid cross contamination and to keep customers safe.

Pretty dessert

The staff in these restaurants seem to understand the basics regarding coeliac disease and gluten free dieting. Whenever I ask questions that they aren’t completely sure about such as how they prevent cross contamination they ask the chef and report back to me.

There are a few more gluten free restaurants in Lisbon which I have noticed but which I haven’t yet tried. There really aren’t a lot of coeliac friendly places to eat considering the size of the city but there are some. As a celiac travelling to Lisbon you won’t find yourself going hungry.
Have you travelled gluten free in Lisbon or in Portugal? Share your experiences in the comments below…
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Comments

  • Wow this is wonderful! I’m hoping to get to Portugal sometime soon thanks for the info guest blogger!

  • Portugal has been a favourite travel destination for me and my family. We have had very little problems eating in Portugal. The food is mostly wholesome and home made therefore there is little processed food and you can request no Farinha or flour. Everyone seems to understand and knows what is in the food as it is usually made on site.
    When in doubt ask but when they say there is no flour in it it is good to go!
    We have traveled to the north and south of Lisbon and have not had a problem any where. YOu can’t go wrong with a grilled fish, potatoes and vegie!

    Boa Viagens!

  • My family will be in Portugal (Lisbon, Fatima, Sintra, Estoril, and Albufera) at the end of July. My daughter has Celiac Disease. I was pleased to see the three recommended restaurants, and the name of grocery stores with GF food. I am wondering if Sofia or anyone else has any other recommendations of safe places to eat in any of these cities. Obrigada!

  • Heading to Portugal on a 2-week bike trip in October. Glad to hear about the supermarkets – might stock up on gf goodies in Lisbon, before we head into the countryside. Breakfast sounds like it might be the most problematic, as mostly continental? Would welcome any advice…

  • Sofia Morais

    Jul 25th, 2012

    Hi Laurie and Lanette,

    Continente, Jumbo and Celeiro Dieta are all over the country and they all provide a gluten free section. So, you’ll be able to find any of these in the cities you’ll be visiting. You may go to their websites and find its location if you wish.

    Breakfasts may be the most difficult meal, yes. We usually have continental breakfasts with bread and cereals. Have you tried asking for a special gluten free breakfast on the hotel? Most hotels won’t provide it, but it’s worth asking :) Otherwise, my advice is to buy lots of bread in any of supermarkets above for breakfast.

    You can also check out portuguese coeliacs association website:
    http://www.celiacos.org.pt/tourism.html

    Have great vacations!
    Sofia

  • Carla Horta

    Aug 2nd, 2012

    Dear all, i would like to add that the chain supermarket called “PINGO DOCE” has also a variety of products to offer. When going to a shopping mall there’s a nutrition store called “celeiro” which has products although a little pricey. Other good news is that now is Summer time and all of us like enjoying an ice cream, the brand “OLA” found anywhere has a board menu where is signed which ones are gluten free( ‘isento de gluten’ in Portuguese). I would not recommend “telepizza” as their pizzas are frozen and microwaved , it takes 2h30m to cook it(wondering why) and most of the time they are burned and tasteless,not to mention pricey, you better off at some nice ocean view restaurant with some fresh grilled fish or meat, healthier and cheaper. When ordering you can always request ‘ no farinha’ ( flour) and no ‘caldo knorr’( broth) pay attention because in soups or even rice some people use it ! Other than this you won’t have any problems since Portuguese cooking is mostly healthy without any processing additives :-) Enjoy Portugal ! Boa viagem e boas ferias !

  • David Gakhar

    Sep 24th, 2012

    I am a coeliac and visit Portugal regularly. I find it very easy to eat, the staple diet seems to be freshly grilled fish with salad and rice! However, there is a restaurant called Nelitos in Almancil (Algarve) who cater for Coeliacs (bread, pasta, deserts – even GF tiramisu) and also a supermarket called Appolonia which caters and has a great GF section.

  • Good to see and read the comments on Ceoliac in Portugal. Very helpfull. I am going to Portugal in June with my daughter and her partner, who is Portugese.
    I will be looking for gf food as we are going self catering in a lovely cottage.
    We are really looking forward to it.

  • My husband and I will be visiting Porto next weekend – so I was very excited to read this story, as well as the comments. If anyone has suggestions for restaurants in and around Porto, I would love to hear them. Thank you!!

  • Hi, where going to algarve in two weeks and just wonder where to find bread for breakfast because my mom is gluten intolerance.

  • Hi there.
    I agree strongly with those who point out that in a country like Portugal where food is made from scratch there’s little point hunting down gluten-free pizzas. The grills used for grilling fish (and now is peak grilled-sardine season!) or meat won’t have had any bread or flour on them. Boiled potatoes and veg are the norm. If there is a salad, the olive oil and vinegar usually come on the side, but it is worth saying ‘sem molho’ (SEN MOLYO). In answer to Pontus’s question – the stores mentioned (e.g. Continente and health-food chain Celeiro) should have some gluten-free bread, though it may be cornbread.
    In the case of Continente – the biggest supermarket chain – its own-brand ‘Area Viva’ health-food products usually has a small separate section, where the gluten-free stuff is kept.
    On this webpage
    http://www.celiacos.org.pt/imprensa/noticias/item/gama-sem-gluten-da-area-viva-disponivel-nas-lojas-continente.html
    click on the link where it says ‘aqui’ in blue and you can open/save a file where the various Area Viva gluten-free products are displayed, in Portuguese but with pictures.

  • John Weinbach

    Sep 12th, 2013

    Will be on aRoad Scholar 9 day tour of Portugal in early Nov. but on our own in Lisbon for 1 1/2 day before tour.
    Want to go to Gulbenkian Museum and Oceanario Aquarium on our own. Is there gluten free food in their restaurants?

  • As a coeliac, I can definitely recommend eating at Brasserie Mediterranica, Rua de Santa Marta 48 in Lisbon. They have a clearly marked selection of gluten-free dishes on their menu, and the staff were very clued up and aware. They even baked special GF bread for me to have pre-dinner. Excellent friendly knowledgeable service, and lovely food.
    Also, anyone looking for gluten free food items while in Lisbon can find a good selection at El Corte Ingles supermarket attached to their store. I don’t know the exact address but it’s at the S. Sebastiao Metro Station.

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