Porto, in Portugal, enchanted me in many ways. One of these was definitely its amazing food tradition. As I love Mediterranean flavours, I was hooked up to Porto food from the first bite, and here I am sharing my foodie experience. Hope you enjoy it!
Here a few dishes you have to try if you visit Porto:
The Bifana is a typical Portuguese sandwich filled with pork steak. The meat is super tender and gives the bread a boost of flavour. It is usually eaten for lunch and you can find it in the most typical little restaurants around town.
Lately, lots of foodie and gourmet version of the Bifana have been created from Portuguese chefs and restaurants. I introduce you to a sandwich you’ll never forget: the Congregados Sandwich. Created by the small restaurant Flor dos Congregados, it is the ultimate slow cooked sandwich, filled with a spiced, aromatic pork and ham roast that marinates for 20 hours and cooks for more than 4 hours. The result is just amazing, I’ve never had a sandwich like this in my whole life. The flavor is fantastico and the meat is so tender and juicy. Just try it.
I’ve already told you something about Porto, the typical Portuguese sweet wine and its three version: White Porto, Porto Ruby and Porto Tawny. Now I want to tell you something that will make you fell a bit like a local: go to a bar – possibly the Café Majestic, lovely art déco place, and order a Porto Sour. It is an amazing and refreshing alcoholic drink made of White Porto, tonic water, lemon and ice. It’s what the locals drink.
I Pastéis de Chaves
Chaves is a small town North of Porto, where these amazing Pastéis were born. Do not mistake them with Pastéis de Nata, they’re pretty different. It is some kind of delicious puff pastry filled with meat or fish, served hot. Lately, some gourmet version of Pastéis de Chaves have kicked in, like the ones you can have at A Loja Dos Pasteis de Chaves.
George e Vanessa, the owners, are from Chaves and committed to bring the original recipe around Portugal. There are a lot of flavors to try, not just plain fish or meat but also chicken and chili, custard cream and dark chocolate. Have them for breakfast, lunch or snack. So delicious!
I know they don’t sound like Portuguese, but here you will find yummy croissant in almost every bakery. The recipe is not the French buttery one but it is more similar to the italian Cornetto one. Really good for breakfast!
I Bolos de Arroz
Wine and ‘petiscos’
‘Petiscos’ is the name of Portuguese tapas and they’re perfect when served together with some delicious local wine. I recommend you Taberna Do Largo, for some very good tapas, superbe organic wine and nice atmosphere.
In the past centuries, nuns were using egg whites to starch priests’ vests. They use to throw away the egg yolks or give them to the pigs, since one day they found out they were delicious when combined with the sugar that came in large quantities from Madeira and Brasil. They started baking some little sweets for the priests, they were known as Convent Caked and had funny names like Fat from Heaven or Nun Belly. You can find them in almost any patisserie.
I tried Pudim de Abade de Priscos and it was really good, even if a bit too heavy for me.
Lanche is a kind of bread filled with meat and smoked ham, a snack that locals have for lunch or snack. You’ll find it in any bar/café around the city.
It is a kind of a small muffin, moist but not too soft. You find it plain or filled with cheese, ham, carrots etc.
After croissant another French-sounding food: Eclairs! Well, people from Porto are pretty proud of THEIR Eclair recipes. They come in many different flavors and are filled with cream.
The best place to eat Eclairs in Porto is definitely the Leitaria da Qta do Paco, where you can taste the classic version with chocolate and cream but also some other variations like passion fruit, banana, vanilla and some Sneclair, savoury Eclairs filled with cheese and salmon, cottage cheese and herbs and other amazing flavours.
Take two slices of soft, white bread. Fill them with smoked ham, pork meat and sausage. Roll this sandwich in melted cheese, cover with beer sauce and serve it on a bed of french fries. 2500 calories on average and a strong, very good flavour. I ate a whole Francesinha, but probably I won’t feel the need of another one in a very long time.
Pastéis de Nata
Nothing to do with the originals, the Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, but the Pastéis you can find in any café in Porto (and in Portugal in general) are very good as well. When I was in Portugal, I ate at least one a day. Irresistable!
Even if you don’t like sardines you’ll end up buying a few tins, just for their amazing packaging design. We had the best ones in Bolhao Market, but you find sardines served in most restaurants and bars.
This is a must see. So typical, so authentic, a jewel in Porto’s food scene. Too bad the government is not doing enough to preserve it, although it is a Monument of Cultural Interest. Here you find Bolhao Wine House, a small corner of the market to have a break from food shopping and taste some great Moscatel wine and sardines.
It is a place that shows how little stalls can make a big difference, and it was such a nice stop during our food tour.
What’s Cimbalino? Well, it’s a coffee! It is called like this because it is made with italian coffee machine Cimbali. Porto has really good coffe, and some great coffee mix including barley and chicory.
I didn’t try tripes, another authentic Porto dish, but it was a bit too much for me as I’m not a fan of this kind of food.
Cod (and bacalhau)
You’ll have fried cod, boiled cod, and dried and salted cod (bacalhau). Expect to eat it in any way as a national dish.
Taste Porto Food Tours
I wouldn’t have discovered as much of Portuguese food if it wasn’t for André, from Taste Porto Food Tours.
He likes to call what he offers ‘a walk with a Porto friend’ and it really feels like that. André is like a friend who takes you to the nicest foodie spots in Porto and has always something to tell you about the making, the history and the tradition of what you’re eating and seeing around you.
I truly recommend his tour, and be it the first thing you do when you arrive in Porto because you’ll get so many insights about Porto life, about culinary traditions and history of the city. Plus, you’ll get many tips and addresses, and you’ll just want to try them all!