Time for round two of bifanas! Yes, this is my second bifana post and I’m not at all hesitant to introduce you to another local spot where you can enjoy these traditional Portuguese sandwiches. This time, we’re talking about O Trevo in the Bairro Alto neighbourhood of Lisbon.
In my first bifana post, I visited As Bifanas do Afonso in the Baixa district. This place is very well-loved by locals, the bifanas are cheap, and you bet they’re delicious. With that being my only bifana experience, the bar had been set high.
O Trevo was also on my food radar as a bifana hot spot. This is the place that’s known by most travellers because it featured in Anthony Bourdain’s Lisbon episode of No Reservations (season 8, episode 4). You know what it’s like, everyone wants to eat where Bourdain ate, and for good reason too… He had excellent taste! He’s the OG of food adventuring and long may his legacy live on.
Bourdain visited Lisbon in late 2011, before the city became a mainstream travel destination. At the time, O Trevo was only known to locals, and Bourdain’s popularity unsurprisingly put it on the map. It’s only at the very end of the episode that he orders and enjoys a bifana. As narrated by Bourdain, “Greasy pork – the greasier the better – low rent mustard, a touch of chili oil and a bun. Totally awesome.” Really, that’s all there is to a bifana at O Trevo, but damn it is good.
Lisbon’s Bairro Alto neighbourhood is a lively hub of shops, cafés, restaurants, street performers, and night life. O Trevo is located in a corner of Praça Luís de Camões, the main square in Bairro Alto a.k.a. prime real estate! I stepped into O Trevo in the late afternoon looking for a snack. The place was pleasantly buzzing with patrons, most of whom appeared to be locals. Perhaps during the lunch rush or in the peak summer season, this place rides a wave of tourists. But during my April visit, the pace of tourism here was manageable.
When you enter, you’ll want to place your order at the counter, where you’ll likely see others enjoying a bifana and a beer. The customary order here seems to be just that: bifana e cerveja. There wasn’t much table space available inside and the interior lighting wasn’t ideal for the photos I planned on taking, so I opted to get my bifana to take away. The guy who makes your bifana there and then (yes, you can watch it being made) is swift. He’s clearly survived many a bifana lunch rush! The thin slices of pork, which have been cooked in seasoned lard (that’s what makes the flavour so good!) await to be quickly grilled and layered into a fresh bun. Your bifana maker will ask if you want mustard and chilli oil on it, the customary condiments. Go for what your heart desires (but really, get both).
Coming in at less than €2.50, this is a steal! Cheap, flavourful, and local – what more can you want from an afternoon bite? I took my bifana to Praça Luís de Camões to soak up the sun. In the centre of the square, there is a statue where people can sit on the steps and watch the world go by. It was here that I eagerly unwrapped my bifana, photographed it (to the curiosity and perhaps confusion of some onlookers), and enjoyed this simple creation. The pork was tender, juicy, and balanced by the tangy mustard, and the bread was wonderfully fresh and soft. In the words of Bourdain, “That’s fucking good.”
My advice for you is to enjoy a bifana at O Trevo (sit in or take away), to enjoy the energy at Praça Luís de Camões, and then to meander down the street to Manteigaria to cap off your meal with some of the best pastéis de nata in town! Now that, my friends, is an exceptional way to spend your time in beautiful Lisbon.
Address: Praça Luís de Camões 48
Hours: 7am – 10pm