November 30, 2017 by O Vadio
From the Restaurant to Your Door: Meal Delivery in Lisbon
If you’re used to getting food delivered to your home, be warned: it isn’t as much of a “thing” in Lisbon as it is in, say, New York or London. Lisbon startups have made attempts, but the big players on the scene are UberEATS and Glovo, and there is still no Just Eat Lisboa.
To be fair, food delivery in Portugal is a centuries-long tradition. In villages, and on certain streets of Lisbon, you’ll often see waiters walking across the street with a bowl of soup and a basket of bread, trays be damned. Ask your local tasca and they’ll likely at least bring food to your door.
For those of you more used to anonymous people delivering your dinner, UberEATS took a long time coming to Lisbon, but it’s here, and it’s good. Unlike its competitors, UberEATS says it will deliver from most restaurants — if you’re somewhat central — within about 30-45 minutes. On our attempt to test that theory, Jose, the Uber driver who came to the door, was 1 minute ahead of schedule. The sushi, from Tasca Japonesa, was what you’d expect from most run-of-the-mill Japanese restaurants in Lisbon, but the sashimi was particularly luscious (we hope they keep up appearances after the first day of the service!).
Uber’s delivery app has a good smattering of restaurants all over Lisbon, covering the standard home delivery fare such as pizza and sushi, but there’s a good selection of Portuguese restaurants and more exotic cuisines, including one of our favorites, the Hawaiian poke (which you can also get at the food court in Amoreiras shopping mall). Because Uber is a U.S.-founded company, everything is in English, if that’s your preference, you can pay with the “foreign” Visa or Mastercard attached to your Uber account, and they charge 2.90€ for delivery, or at least in our case.
But UberEATs has some local competitors that have been around far longer. NoMenu, contrary to the English meaning of the site’s name, does have menus. Not many, although, thanks to enterprising immigrants from China, Nepal, and India, the list is growing. Their options are also rather expensive compared to what you’d pay in a tasca down the street, but not bad at all if you mostly eat at hotels. NoMenu also charges a delivery fee, however, currently set between 3.9€ and 11€, and can take up to 1 hr 15 minutes to get the food to you. If we were to recommend one restaurant from their short list, it would have to be Himchuli, which we reviewed here. The site is in Portuguese.
Comer em Casa is similar to NoMenu — it offers a handful of restaurants, with an emphasis on Indian ones, takes around an hour, and charges 3.50€ for delivery from one restaurant or 5.50€ from two. You can only pay with a bank transfer or with a Portuguese Multibanco card. Also only in Portuguese.
Central Menu has been around 2008 and has a good selection of restaurants. As with its local competitors, it takes up to 1 hr 15 mins to get your food and you pay between 2.50€ and 5€ for delivery. You can only pay with Multibanco. And yes, it’s only in Portuguese.
A few restaurants deliver without being part of these networks, but their geographic ranges tend to be restricted to the nearby neighborhoods. Ask your favorite local eatery if they’d do you a favor and you may be surprised. And TimeOut recently compiled a short list of restaurants that deliver, although… Is it us, or does waiting 70 minutes or whatever for sushi seem a bit… courageous? Anyway. Zomato has a good selection of pizza and sushi delivery places too, as does NiT.
A Side Note on Lisbon’s Pizza Delivery
If you don’t care about the kind of pizza you eat, the ubiquitous Telepizza is your go-to — they even have bacalhau (cod) pizza! Yummm! My New York friends will kill me, but Domino’s or Pizza Hut are probably a step up, while Mad Pizza is certainly our favorite as it doesn’t taste like a cardboard box. Some younger Lisboetas have fallen for Mr. Pizza too. We’re freaked out by the weird spider creature in its logo.
But why bother with the pizza chains when there’s a plethora of good smaller pizzerias in Lisbon, and many of them do deliver — just ask next time you find a slice or pie that you relish. If you’re near Alcântara, give or take 3 km, we highly recommend Florentino’s pizza — and their delivery is free.
Tips on Payment
If you have a non-Portuguese credit card, and the restaurant or service in question actually accepts it (fat chance!), expect your first purchase to be blocked by your credit card provider, or for the website to deny it outright. Fear not: some will accept debit cards or payment on delivery.
Tips on Tips
Since most places in Portugal will charge you for delivery, it’s understood there’s no tipping. Some places even prohibit their drivers from accepting tips. But you do you.