Rick Steves refers to Lisbon as the San Francisco of Europe, and in some ways that's a great comparison with the hilly streets filled with cable cars and it's beautiful suspension bridge...I'd also add in the AMAZING seafood, and great desserts :).
I ate a ton of wonderful foods in Lisbon, so much seafood, from oysters and clams to a variety of fishes, both cooked and an a variety of raw forms- sushi, ceviche, tartare, I love it all!
Sea Me was a quick walk from where we were staying, and after an amazing dinner there, I went back to have the exact same thing for lunch a few days later!
We loved the vibe and the view of The Insolito, and it was conveniently located on the roof of our hotel!
When we got tired of fish, we had steak at La Brassarie de l'Endrecôte.
While I realize this probably not the most authentic cultural representation of the city, the Time Out Market is a great way to experience a whole lot of what Lisbon has to offer in just a couple of hours. This was great for Jason and a lot of the crew on the shoot, who were working the majority of the time they were there. We went one night for dinner and everyone ran around to different stalls ordering a little bit of everything which left us with a spread of food to sample that included everything you could think of- from squid ink to gelato :)
The Pastel de Nata is probably the most famous Portuguese pastry, but there are a whole wide variety of amazing things to try at bakeries all around the city. While wandering one day, I happened on Zarzuela, a cute little bakery that makes them gluten and dairy free!
We stayed at two different hotels and would recommend both, depending on the type of hotel you're looking for. Both hotels are centrally located in the Barrio Alto neighborhood, the perfect place to be able to walk to so much of the city.
If you are looking for something with a great old school Portuguese feel that's looks like it's been decorated by Wes Anderson with tons of quirk and charm*, check out The Independente- which has beautiful suites and also has a very inexpensive hostel option! If my recommendation isn't enough, The New York Times agrees. I really enjoyed having a bit more space in a hotel room and having my own sitting room with a beautiful balcony looking out on the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara and an incredible view of the city.
(*the downside to "quirk and charm" is sometimes it also means having to cram all of your suitcases in a tiny elevator and then you get to your floor and still have to walk down and up a half flight of stairs to get to your room...not a deal breaker for me, but obviously not ideal for everyone.)
Taking guided tours or bus rides isn't my prefered method to experience a city, instead I spent most of my time wandering and eating and doing a little bit of Googling of things that I found interesting. Rambling down alleys and side streets lead me to amazing tile buildings and colorful street art. The city was super walkable, and if it ever became too much, taxis or trolleys are readily available.
Lisbon was a beautiful city and since this is getting long, I'll pause here and share more later.