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The coastal city of Porto in northern Portugal is a food lovers paradise with an abundance of delicious fresh seafood and heaps of fantastic local dishes. It is also famous for its numerous port wine cellars and you can enjoy sunny afternoons drinking world class port in beautiful surroundings by the Douro River.
We spent a few weeks eating and drinking our way around the city and have found all the best local Portuguese foods, desserts and drinks you must try on your trip to Porto.
Here is our guide to the best foods and drinks to try when visiting Porto, and also recommendations on where to find them for all budgets!
Best foods and drink to try in Porto
1. Cachorrinhos (Porto style hot dogs)
The Porto-style hotdog is a must try food when visiting Porto and is the perfect snack to eat in a bar paired with an ice cold Super Bock beer and maybe a side of fries!
This comfort food is made from a stick of thin crusty baguette filled with sausage and cheese, which is then brushed with a spicy sauce. The baguette is toasted until the cheese melts inside and it is then cut into small crispy bite sized pieces.
You can also find versions of cachorrinhos in Porto called ‘cachorro especial’ that come coated in melted cheese and served with Porto’s famous francesinha sauce (a rich sauce made from broth, beer, port, tomato and peri-peri spices!). Dirty but delicious!
Where to eat Cachorrinhos in Porto
You’ll find cachorrinho available all over Porto, but you must try the Cachorrinhos at Cervejaria Gazela bar in central Porto. They have been serving Cachorrinhos for more than 50 years, and the late Anthony Bourdain visited in 2017 to try this beloved snack for his ‘Parts Unknown‘ TV series.
This place can get very busy and only has a handful of bar stools around a central counter, so we recommend visiting when it is a bit quieter, usually around mid afternoon. They also have outdoor seating too if inside is too busy.
Other recommended places in Porto where you can eat cachorrinhos are República dos Cachorros, Casa Guedes or Café Santiago.
2. Francesinha (most famous food in Porto)
The francesinha is a unique and iconic dish that is a local specialty in the Porto region and is probably the most famous sandwich in Portugal! It was created in the 1950s by a Portuguese man who was living in France and was apparently inspired by the French Croque Monsieur dish.
The francesinha is essentially a large multi-layered sandwich that consists of three pieces of bread layered with ridiculous amount of meats (usually ham, sausages and beef steak), which is then covered with melted cheese and drenched in a thick francesinha sauce. It is sometimes topped with a fried egg and is typically surrounded by French fries! The francesinha sauce as mentioned above is a rich and tangy savoury sauce made from beer, port, tomato and peri-peri spices – yum!
Many restaurants have their own special recipes for the beer sauce and a lot will claim to have the best francesinha in town! This sandwich requires a big appetite and is not something that can be eaten everyday as it is pretty calorific and carb heavy, however it is definitely a food worth trying at least once on your trip to Porto (and is also a great hangover cure!). We always shared a francesinha dish as our appetites were never big enough to devour a whole one each!
Where to eat Francesinha in Porto
One of the most highly rated places in Porto to try Francesinha is the restaurant Brasão Aliados (there are two locations in the city). Here they serve a traditional oven baked version and also a vegetarian version, plus if you don’t have a huge appetite you can order a half portion size. This restaurant is a very popular spot in town so we recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment.
Other great places to try Francesinha are Cafe Santiago, Restaurante O Afonso, Yuko Tavern, Bufete Fase and Barcarola Café,
3. Bolinhos de Bacalhau (fried codfish cakes)
Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for dried, salted cod and Bolinhos de Bacalhau is a traditional Portuguese snack also known as a codfish cake or salt cod fritters.
They are typically made from a mix of bacalhau, mashed potatoes, eggs, parsley, onion and spices, which are then shaped into a small elliptical shape and deep fried until they are crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. They can be eaten either hot or cold (we think they are tastier when warm) and are served as an appetiser or as part of a main dish with rice and vegetables.
Where to eat Bolinhos de Bacalhau in Porto
There is a popular touristy spot by the river called Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau which sells a version that is filled with Serra da Estrela Portuguese cheese for €4 euros each. However you can get yummy codfish cakes at many bakeries in town such as Confeitaria do Bolhão for a much cheaper price!
4. Bifana (traditional Portuguese pork sandwich)
The bifana is Portugal’s national sandwich and is a very popular and cheap street food snack. It comprises of a crusty bread roll that is filled with juicy, dripping grilled or stewed pork that has been cooked all day long in a sauce made with ingredients such as garlic, spices, bay leaves, piri-piri sauce and white wine vinegar (every cafe and restaurant will have its own recipe).
You’ll find Portuguese people eating them throughout the day, however it is one of the best Porto foods to eat as a late-night snack, paired with a cold Super Bock beer. The bifana is so adored by Portuguese people that McDonald’s in Portugal sell a McBifana!
Where to eat Bifana in Porto
Conga Casa das Bifanas is one of the most popular snack-bars in Porto to try this dish and have the most famous “Bifanas” in town with a secret family sauce! If you visit expect to queue to get in.
Other great places to try Bifana in Porto are Taxca and Rei das Bifanas.
5. Alheira Sausages
The Alheira is a lightly smoked sausage that was created by Jewish people in Northern Portugal who wanted to eat a low-cost pork-free version of a sausage. It is made from a mixture of bread, garlic, paprika and game meat (either chicken, turkey, partridge, quail, veal or rabbit).
The sausages can be found in many Porto food restaurants and are often fried or baked and are typically served with french fries, rice and a runny fried egg. They are usually cheap to order and are a delicious snack to eat for lunch. Nowadays you can order alheira sausages made from a mixture of pork and bread.
Where to eat Alheira sausage in Porto
Alheira sausages can be found in many restaurants across Porto. Head to Mercado do Bolhão where you can find many meat stalls.
6. Sandes de pernil (roast pork sandwiches)
Another popular sandwich in Porto is the Sandes de pernil – a simple lightly toasted bread roll filled with slices of slow-cooked pork leg or pork shoulder.
We recommend upgrading your classic sandwich and ordering a ‘pernil com queijo de ovelha’ which comes with a melted soft and creamy Serra da Estrela sheep’s milk cheese which completely elevates the dish!
Where to eat Sandes de pernil in Porto
The best place to eat Sandes de pernil in Porto is at the famous Casa Guedes cafe where they have been serving the dish since 1987.
A simple roasted pork sandwich is priced at €3.90 or you can order a combination sandwich (roast pork with sheep’s cheese, sausage, ham, onion or pineapple) for €5.90. If you want to go all out you can order a ‘Chef Guedes’ for €6.50 which it stuffed with pork, brie, onion in port wine and rocket!
Casa Guedes can get really busy so arrive early or be prepared to queue!
7. Bacalhau A Bras (salted Portuguese codfish, eggs and potatoes)
Bacalhau à Brás is a rich and creamy Portuguese comfort snack made from salted cod, onions and crispy fried potato sticks, mixed together with creamy scrambled eggs and then garnished with black olives and fresh parsley. The dish originates from Lisbon but is a food loved by many Portuguese people across the whole country and found in many places in Porto.
Where to eat Bacalhau A Bras in Porto
We tried a delicious version of the Porto food Bacalhau A Bras in Cantina 32 restaurant. Other recommended spots in town include Abadia do Porto and Caldeireiros.
8. Caldo Verde (Porto green soup)
Caldo Verde is one of the best soups to try in Porto and is a traditional comfort dish whose literal translation is ‘green broth’. It can be found everywhere from high-end restaurants to simple cafes and is made from finely sliced collard greens or kale, potatoes, onions, olive oil and garlic. Most bowls include a couple of slices of chouriço cured sausage to add a smokey flavour.
Caldo verde originates from north west Portugal but can be found all over the country. It is typically eaten during Portuguese celebrations such as weddings and birthdays and can be eaten as an appetiser or a light meal.
Where to eat Caldo Verde in Porto
Many typical Portuguese cafes serve the Porto food Caldo Verde. We first tried a delicious version of this Porto food in a restaurant called Republica dos Cachorros. Other great spots to try caldo verde are at Casa Guedes, Cafe Santiago and O Astro Cervejaria Petisqueira.
9. Prego no Pão (Portuguese sandwich)
Similar to a Bifana, a Prego no Pão is a simple but classic Portuguese sandwich found all over the country. The meat inside the sandwich is usually sirloin steak which is tender and marinaded with garlic, herbs and spices. The outer layer is usually a crusty white roll or slices of bread,
Where to eat Prego no Pão in Porto
We tried Porto food Prego no Pão in a restaurant called Venham Mais 5, but we have heard great things about the pregos served at Lareira.
10. Pastéis de Nata (Portugese egg tarts – famous Porto food)
Possibly one of the most famous Porto foods – the Pastéis de Nata is an iconic pastry and most neighbourhoods in Porto will have a pastelerias selling them.
The Pastéis de Nata is a creamy egg-based custard tart made from large quantities of egg yolks and sugar and is surrounded with delicate and buttery pastry. It is best enjoyed fresh out of the oven when it has crispy pastry on the outside and a crème brûlée-like topping. We recommend sprinkling the egg tart with a hint of cinnamon powder.
They were these supposedly created back in the 18th century by monks in the Lisbon town of Belém, who needed to find a way to use up leftover egg yolks (egg whites were used to starch clothing).
Where to eat Pastéis de Nata in Porto
Fábrica da Nata and Manteigaria were our regular go-to places in Porto to get tasty freshly baked egg custard tarts. Other recommended Porto food spots include Nata Lisboa, Natas D’Ouro, Padaria Ribeiro, Confeitaria do Bolhão and Padaria Ribeiro.
11. Grilled Porto Sardines
Sardines are a very popular Porto food during the summer months and are extremely fresh due to the country’s location next to the Atlantic Ocean.
The sardines are seasoned with coarse salt and grilled on both sides until the skin is slightly toasted, and are usually served whole on top of a slice of bread to soak up all the oils and juices. Alternatively they can be served alongside salad, roasted potatoes, peppers or rice, and many locals will add lemon juice, chopped garlic, olive oil or paprika to the fish.
Sardines can find them on many Porto restaurant menus, and you also find them sold in cans which can be purchased in many tourist shops in town. Portuguese sardine season is usually between the months of March and August.
There is a local festival called St. John held every June where sardines are the traditional food and are served barbecued on open charcoal fire grills.
Where to eat sardines in Porto
The best place in Porto to eat Sardines is the coastal town of Matashinos, just a 30 minute drive from downtown Porto. You’ll find many seafood restaurants grilling freshly caught sardines on hot BBQ coals in front of you.
12. Prego no Prato (Portuguese garlic nailed steak and chips)
In Portuguese the word Prego means ‘nail’ and refers to the cloves of garlic that are pounded (or nailed) into the steak before cooking. Prego no Prato is a Porto food that centres around a thin fried or grilled steak that has been pounded with garlic, and typically served with rice or french fries and topped with a fried egg! It is considered to be the “low carb” version of the Prego no Pão steak sandwich.
Where to eat Prego no Prato in Porto
You’ll find this dish in a handful of restaurants in Porto, but we ate a yummy version at República Dos Cachorros.
If you happen to be also visiting Lisbon, the best Prego no Prato we have ever tried was from a restaurant called Rui dos Pregos.
13. Tremoços (Porto snack food)
Tremoços (or lupini beans) are a delicious salty Porto food and can be found in many bars as the perfect accompaniment to an ice cold beer or a glass of vinho verde.
They are small crunchy bite-size treats with a slightly buttery taste and are a great source of protein that is low in calories. The thick translucent skin needs to be taken off and the bean inside needs to be squeezed out before being eaten.
14. Tripas à Moda do Porto
This hearty Portuguese stew is an iconic dish that is packed with flavour and its main ingredient is tripe (beef stomach) .
The dish originated in the 14th century in Porto when most of the city’s clean meat was shipped to Africa to feed Portuguese troops, leaving only the innards of the animals for the local residents. The people of Porto invented a way to cook tripe which earned them the nickname ‘tripeiros’ (tripe eaters). Every family in Porto has its own recipe which is passed down from generation to generation.
Aside from its main ingredient, Tripas à Moda do Porto also contains other cuts of meat such as veal shank, plus white beans, smoked sausage and carrots which is then seasoned with spices such as paprika and cumin, black pepper, bay leaves and garlic. It is typically served with rice.
Where to eat Tripas à Moda in Porto
Tripas à Moda is a staple Porto food in many local traditional restaurants such as Restaurante Loureiro, Taberna Santo António, A Cozinha do Manel and Abadia do Porto.
15. Portuguese canned fish
In many countries tinned fish is a cheap staple that isn’t something to rave about, but in Portugal fish in a can is a big deal and can be found in many gourmet shops! Canned fish is a staple of the Portuguese diet and the country has a long tradition of preserving fish. In 1853 the first commercial cannery was founded and they specialised in selling sardines preserved in olive oil.
Nowadays you can purchase tins filled with anchovies, mackerel, eels, octopus, tuna, codfish, squid and much more, all of which can be enjoyed eaten on top of a slice of bread and drizzled with some olive oil. Canned fish is actually rather healthy and can be a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
The tins are usually beautifully decorated and you can even find shops dedicated to just selling canned fish to buy as souvenirs!
Where to eat Portuguese tinned fish in Porto
Taberna do Largo and Loja das Conservas are great spots in town to enjoy tinned fish alongside other tapas dishes.
If you are looking to buy some canned fish as a souvenir then stop by Mercado do Bolhão, or head to the very touristy and colourful gift shop O Mundo Fantástico das Sardinhas Portuguesas.
16. Porto Port Wine
Port is a rich and sweet fortified wine that has been produced in the beautiful wine-growing region of Douro Valley in northern Portugal for over 2,000 years! This wine can only be officially called port if the grapes are grown in this particular Portuguese region. The Douro Valley is just a short drive or train journey from downtown Porto and is a great place to visit for the day to try all the different varieties of Port.
Port should be served just below room temperature and is commonly enjoyed as an after-dinner drink (but we enjoy drinking it any time of day!). It comes in several different varieties – Red, White, Rosé and an aged Tawny (10 year+), and pairs wonderfully with cheeses and chocolate flavoured desserts. All port wine spends around two to three years aging in wooden vats, and the best tasting port wines are Tawny which have aged in the bottle for 10 to 50 years!
No trip to Porto is complete without sampling some of the finest Port wines the country has to offer!
Where to drink port in Porto
Take a day trip out of Porto to the Douro Valley to work your way around some of the finest port houses and cellars. The region has many hotels so you can choose to spend a few days relaxing here.
BOOK IT: From Porto: Douro Valley with Boat Tour, Wine Tasting and Lunch >
Alternatively, head to the south side of the river in downtown Porto and you’ll find port cellars which offer port tastings and cellar tours such as Sandeman, Churchill’s Lodge and Graham’s. There are also many riverside bars near Mercado Beira Rio which offer 5 small tastings of Port for just 5 euros.
17. Porto Seafood
Because Porto is located on the coast, there is an abundance of fresh seafood available in the city (the Portuguese have the highest seafood consumption per capita in Europe!). Many of the city’s restaurants feature a selection of seafood dishes on their menus with bacalhau and sardines being the most popular foods.
The best place to east fresh fish and seafood is the coastal suburb of Montesinho which is a 30 minute drive from downtown Porto. The town is chock full of restaurants all specialising in seafood where you can feast on charcoal grilled fish such as sardines, hake, mackerel or sea bass, plus oysters and shellfish.
Where to eat seafood in Porto
Some of the most highly rated Porto restaurants to eat seafood at include Tito 2, Marisqueira Antiga, O Gaveto and Marisqueira dos Pobres.
18. Arroz de Pato (Portuguese Style Duck Rice)
Invented in the city of Braga in northern Portugal but popular across the country, Arroz de Pato is a hearty oven-baked duck and rice dish and is a delicious Porto food.
Shredded poached duck is combined with meaty stock-infused short grain rice (similar to Italian Arborio) in a casserole dish, and topped with smoked meat and cured chouriço sausage. This is then baked in the oven until the top layer is nice and crispy.
This dish can be found on many lunch menus in traditional restaurants and is a popular Sunday family dinner dish.
Where to eat Arroz de Pato in Porto
Arroz de Pato is a staple in local traditional restaurants in Porto such as Restaurante Loureiro, and A Cozinha do Manel. We tried a tasty version from a food stall at Mercado Beira Rio.
19. Rissoles (Rissóis)
Rissoles are the Portuguese version of a croquette or an empanada, and are a popular snack in Porto. They can be eaten either hot or cold as part of a main dish with chips, rice or a side salad, or as an appetiser with drinks.
These half-moon-shaped savoury patties are coated in breadcrumbs and filled with either cheese, minced meat, fish or shrimp in a béchamel sauce, which are then baked or deep fried until they are crunchy on the outside and creamy in the middle.
Where to eat rissoles in Porto
We tried some really amazing rissoles in Brasão Aliados restaurant and recommend the Meat, Mushroom and Truffle version. Other great spots in Porto to try rissoles include Oficina dos Rissóis and Cana Verde.
20. Papas de Sarrabulho
Papas de Sarrabulho originates from the north of Portugal and is a hearty, warming stew that is traditionally served in the winter months.
The dish is made from pigs blood, chicken, smoked sausages and ham, which is then thickened with bread or corn flour, and seasoned with cumin, lemon and nutmeg. It can be served as a stew by itself, or as a side dish to rojões à moda do Minho (a Portuguese fried pork dish), and is often accompanied by a glass of vino verde (green wine).
Papas de Sarrabulho is usually more readily available in the colder months, as that is when pig slaughter commonly takes place and fresh pig’s blood is more readily available.
Where to eat Papas de Sarrabulho in Porto
It is very common to find the Porto food dish Papas de Sarrabulho on menus in northern Portugal restaurants, but one of the most popular places to try the dish is Casa Expresso restaurant.
21. Vino Verde (Green Wine)
Vino Verde translates as “green wine”, and is a light, sparkly and crisp wine which is commonly served chilled in the summer months. The drink isn’t actually green in colour but the name refers to the Vinho Verde wine regions in north Portugal where the wine originates, and can be produced as a red, white or rosé variety.
Vino Verde is a young wine and is usually ready to drink just a few months after bottling, and is a must-try drink when visiting Porto
Where to drink vino verde in Porto
Vino Verde is widely found in supermarkets, bars and restaurants in Porto.
22. Queijo da Serra da Estrela cheese
Portugal produces a large amount of sheep cheese, and the Queijo da Serra da Estrela is one of the country’s most famous cheeses. The cheese is prepared using milk from the Serra da Estrela sheep in the Beria Alta region, and is soft, gooey and flavourful with a semi-soft rind.
Queijo da Serra da Estrela is traditionally bound in cloth and sold in a flattened, cylindrical shape, and is best enjoyed with some rye bread and a glass of local wine!
Where to eat Queijo da Serra da Estrela cheese in Porto
Queijo da Serra da Estrela can be widely found in many Porto supermarkets, and is served in tapas bars.
Jesuítas is a dish that originates from north Portugal and is a popular dessert food in Porto. They are triangular-shaped pastries, made with layers of puff pastry which are filled with almond egg cream and topped with meringue or sprinkled with flaked almonds.
They are apparently named Jesuítas as the triangle shape mimics the frocks worn by the Jesuit priests!
Where to eat Jesuítas in Porto
Jesuítas can be found in many pastry food shops in Porto.
24. Super Bock beer
Portugal’s premier pour, Super Bock (gotta love the confidence in their name) is one the nation’s favourite beers and comes in whole range of tastes, strengths and varieties – it is also the number 1 selling Portuguese beer around the world.
We can think of no better way to escape Porto’s summer heat than a beachside Bock. Although the standard Super Bock is the one that is available in most bars, we highly recommend their darker Super Bock stout – chilled, chocolatey coffee goodness in a glass.
Other Super Bock beer types include Super Bock Green (with lemon – refreshing as), Abadia (caramel, malty tones and quite strong) plus an increasingly popular range of ‘1927’ craft beers (a little more expensive than the core ranges. Enjoy and ‘felicidades’ (cheers!).
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