Lisbon – food shopping part 2 – tinned seafood

Conservas (tinned seafoods) are much more highly valued in the Iberian peninsula than in the UK. Portugal and Spain have a long history of preserving cooked seafood in cans as soon as it’s caught. Popular choices are tuna, mackerel and sardines but octopus, eel, bream and and an assortment of bivalves can also be found, usually tinned in oil, or in a variety of brines and sauces.

The oblong, pocket-sized tins can be beautifully decorated with eye-catching designs, some over a century old, which makes them highly collectable and the perfect gift to take home.

Below are four of my favourite tinned seafood shops (conserveiras) in Lisbon, the first two definitely shouldn’t be missed. You’ll find them all marked on my Google map.

Sol e Pesca, 44 Rua Nova do Carvalho,

This is a fun place to start as it’s actually a bar that doubles as a shop, so you can taste before you buy (unlike anywhere else). There’s quite an extensive display of different brands inside so you can compare and contrast.

The location is a popular spot on touristy Pink Street where you can sit outside and people watch.

I’ve been twice and have thoroughly enjoyed the food and general vibe.

There are lots of fun references to the bar’s previous existence as a fishing shop, like the menus attached to fishing rods.

Some of the online reviews do mention tourists being given short shrift by members of staff, and it’s true I was spoken to quite harshly when I tried to sit inside on one occasion. (I never knew why but I guess they prefer to fill the outside tables before a certain time). But following that, a different member of staff gave me really great service, so I guess how you are treated can be a bit of a lottery. Regardless, it’s definitely worth going.

Just down the road is another favourite…

Loja das Conservas, 130 Rua do Arsenal,

Inside this is a bright, modern shop with an extensive selection of over 300 kinds of canned sealife. The knowledgable staff can talk at length about everything on sale and help you match purchases to personal predelictions.

They are the official shop of the National Association of Canned Fish Manufacturers, so a wide variety of brands are represented, from the north to the south Portugal, as well as the islands. The tins of Cantara, Lucas, Minerva, and Nuri have particularly eye-catching designs.

The ethos has been described as ‘fish for sale in an art gallery’.

Not too far away is a more down-to-earth shop…

Conserveira de Lisboa, 34 Rua dos Bacalhoeiros,

A much older, plainer shop but with more soul than any of the others. The guy in here was very helpful and actually got me to downsize my order so it was more suitable for one.

And just over the road…

Comur, 117 Rua dos Bacalhoeiros,

This is one branch of a chain of conserveiras with branches all over the country. There’s at least two in central Lisbon and a couple in Madeira and perhaps most airports. It’s a much slicker, more-gimmicky (tins like gold bars or with your year of birth on), tourist-oriented operation but you can’t argue with the variety of their selection, and in my experience the staff have always been very friendly and informative.

Wines and spirits next!

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