Bread is such a staple in our diet here in Portugal that a table feels almost naked without a basket of carcaças or a few slices of a homemade loaf.
For a while, bread was a mass-produced commodity sold by cafes and supermarkets in addition to neighborhood shops. Today, however, there are more artisanal bakeries in Lisbon than ever before. They’re more diverse, more creative, laser-focused on the quality of their products, and above all, respectful of the patience required to bake the perfect bread.
If that sounds like the stuff dreams are made of, head to one of these bakeries in Lisbon for bread you’ll remember for years to come.
If the interior décor of this bakery feels Scandinavian, that might be the influence of the founder and owner, who lived in Sweden for a few years. Paulo Sebastião was a computer consultant by day and an aspiring baker by night. That love of bread could only mean one thing: eventually opening his own bakery back home in Portugal.
At Isco, customers can see how the bread is made while waiting in line or while eating one of their sandwiches for lunch (made, of course, with the house goods).
Insider’s tip: This is the place to be if you’re craving a typical Swedish cinnamon bun, known as kanelbulla.
Papo-Seco is the new and improved name of a local chain of bakeries that’s been in business since 1925. But among the 27 stores, only one bears the new name and look for now. The employees and the bread recipes, however, remain the same.
The pinewood furniture, art deco lettering, and painting on the window pay tribute to the bakery’s history and transport us to mornings of warm, crisp, bread with strawberry jam. Unless, of course, you’ve already been lured in by the smell of freshly baked papo-secos (the type of Portuguese bread that the bakery is named after) and the chitchat of regular customers.
Insider’s tip: Go for the bread; stay for their signature pastry, fofos.
3. Micro Padaria
Is good bread just about science after all?
Well, maybe not entirely, but it probably helps to know a thing or two about how molecules behave. Micro Padaria was founded by a former scientist, whose story is similar to that of the many other Portuguese who lived abroad and decided to open their own business upon returning to their homeland.
Micro in size, this bakery is also micro in production. The process is slow—the dough rests for 24 hours—but the final product is well worth the wait. The selection is also simple, with just five kinds of bread to choose from ranging from the classic wheat to the signature wheat and polenta.
Insider’s tip: The place is small, but there’s always room to sit down and enjoy one of their famous toasts.
4. Terra Pão
Lisbon food markets are slowly returning to locals’ lives as the one-stop shop for weekly groceries. Not only does this way of shopping help support small, local producers, but it’s also ensures high quality ingredients. And that includes good bread.
Terra Pão is not only an artisanal bakery in Mercado de Arroios, which calls one of Lisbon’s most culturally diverse neighborhoods home. It’s also a bread lab, which means at any given time you may be given the not-so-painful task of testing a new product.
Insider’s tip: If you’re not adventurous when it comes to your baked goods, just ask for the house bread.
5. Pão com Calma
In good old Lisbon fashion, there’s a staircase in the Estefânia neighborhood that leads to a bakery of artisanal bread.
Pão com Calma is not a well-kept secret, despite its seemingly secluded location in an unassuming corner, and it’s the place to come for German-style bread.
Of the three options to choose from, their rye is the biggest standout. Dark, dense, and enriched with seeds, it’s perfect on its own or as the base for a sandwich.
Insider’s tip: Don’t miss their warm, fresh-from-the-oven pretzels, either!