There’s very good reason why Porto has been called one of the top foodie destinations of Europe. The abundance of fresh produce, centuries of know-how, and a no bullshit approach to food means you’ll very rarely have a bad meal. Now that’s not to say it’s impossible, but there’s a sure-fire way of ensuring that each meal you sit down to is as authentic and delicious as the last.
Check out the below list of must-try eats and have yourself the very best of Porto – Portugal’s shining culinary gem.
Bifanas go with beer like a fat steak with red wine. Shreds of slow-cooked spicy pork are packed into a pillowy-soft bun then covered in it’s own juices; a style not too dissimilar to French dip. Don’t make the mistake of ordering any less than two or waste precious chomping time waiting as you’re fetched another.
If in town, Conga is where you’ll find a very decent bifana at a very decent price. If however you find yourself anywhere in the north west, do yourself a favour and visit Tasca da Badalhoca. Although famous for their presunto rolls, their bifanas are the best I’ve had anywhere. Period.
R. do Bonjardim 318, 4000-065
Tasca da Badalhoca
R. Dr. Alberto de Macedo 437, 4100-031
You can’t go to Porto without trying one of their infamous Francesinhas. The sandwhich is said to have been the result of Portuguese chef Daniel da Silva putting his own spin on the French croque monsieur.
The Francesinha is typically made with ham, Portuguese sausage and steak, then covered in melted cheese and left to bathe in it’s trademark tomato and beer sauce. You’re usually given the option of having a fried egg on top – something which I whole-heartedly endorse. I mean, you’ve come this far, right?
There’s a number of spots which claim to have the best Francesinha in town, but for a truly authentic offering you can’t go past Casa De Pasto O Golfinho. I’ve heard that each Francesinha carries close to a thousand calories, so it’s also a perfect way to “line the stomach” before indulging in a few ice-cold Super Bocks. Here’s to responsible drinking!
Casa De Pasto O Golfinho
R. de Sá de Noronha 137, 4050
Ok, first off let me squash a common misconception. Portuguese-style chicken in Portugal isn’t as widely available or comparatively superior as you may think. Sure, you may be able to find it in most tourist districts, but it’s always overpriced and underwhelming. That is of course unless you visit Pedro Dos Frangos, home of easily the best frango assado in Porto.
After pushing your way past the no doubt full bar of regulars on the bottom level you’ll be shown to a table on one of the many levels above. Order yourself a half dose of frango assado no espeto con batata frita (roast chicken with potato chips) and a garden salad to freshen things up. The chicken is tender and crispy skinned, served with a generous handful of chips and a basic yet very fresh salad.
If you’re expecting peri peri sauce like the local Nandos slings you back home, guess again. A chilli oil with just the right amount of heat is supplied to which you’ll quickly realise you love and proceed to douse over everything.
Pedro Dos Frangos
R. do Bonjardim 223, 4000-065
On the second level of Bolhão Market stands Nelson Dos Leitões, a restaurant that has done one thing and one thing well for over a quarter of a century. The man I’ve now dubbed as “The Hogfather” serves up some of the most tender leitão around. The accompanying pepper sauce is also sweet and tangy, pairing with the suckling pig perfectly to give you a mouthwateringly delicious feed.
Opt for the better-value plate over a sandwhich and also receive chips, pickled vegetables, olives and bread. It’s also recommended that you pair your leitão with a chilled glass of sparkling red, so don’t resist the urge to buy a bottle to share.
Make sure you keep an eye on opening days and hours as they don’t neccesarily fall in line with typical times.
Nelson Dos Leitões
Rua de Fernandes Tomás 701, 4000-435
When in Portugal it’s absolutely mandatory that you follow each and every meal with a pastry. An obvious first choice is the pastiel de nata or Portuguese tart as you may know them. With so many locations and variations it seems that everyone has their favourite, so it’s best to shop around until you find yours. Trust me, it’s in no way a chore.
My favourite pastry however is the tarte de amêndoa (almond tart). That roasted caramalisation and slivered almond crunch just can’t be beat. The best I’ve found is at a bakery called Padaria Ribeiro, a shop that’s been around for donkey’s and prides itself on serving up some of the best pastries in Porto.
Praça de Guilherme Gomes Fernandes 21, 4050-159
So you’ve eaten out most of Porto and you’re now looking for some good ol’ fashioned home-style Portuguese cooking.
Taberna Santo Antonio would easily be my favourite restaurant in Porto. Large plates of fantastic, honest food are served up at very reasonable prices, urging you to burst through the kitchen doors and kiss the chef with overwhelming joy. The menu is on what seems like a daily specials rotation, changing just enough to keep things interesting.
Paired with one of their many local reds and followed by one of their famously rich chocolate mousses, you’ll have a belly full of happiness and a smile for a while – guaranteed.
Taberna Santo Antonio
R. das Virtudes 32, 4050-630
The above list barely scratches the surface of what Porto has to offer. What do you think should have made the list?