One of the customs when dining throughout Portugal is that a plate of appetizers will be put on your table without you asking for them. Often it will simply consist of bread or olives, but can be more complex codfish croquettes, seafood salad or another regional specialty.
Picture Source: FoodfromPortugal.com
In other countries if something is provided which you haven’t ordered you presume that it is free. Not so in Portugal as he bottom-line is that you are charged for anything you eat in a restaurant, you will be charged. This practice is common and is not just done to tourists.
Usually plates of olives and bread are quite cheap, a few euros per person. However seafood and cured hams (presunto) are not cheap and it pays to ask the price.
So when presented with these un-ordered tasties you have to ask yourself whether or not you want to pay for these items?
1 Either you refuse them or you can just leave it uneaten and they will eventually take it away and the restaurant should not charge you. But if anyone at your table takes one bite of any of these plates you’ll all be charged. It is sometimes better to refuse them as they are set down or to politely as the waiter to take them away – this avoids all potential confusion when the bill is presented.
Or 2 you eat and enjoy them
Just don’t expect them to be be free!