When I visit Porto, I prepare for a gastronomic adventure I can’t find anywhere else. I know I’ll be eating Portuguese dishes filled with beef stomach and heavily stacked sandwiches loaded with fresh chorizo, gooey cheese, and fried eggs straight from the pan.

Tucked away along the Atlantic, this coastal gem’s location has made it one of the finest culinary meccas Europe has ever seen. This city has some of the best foods everyone should try when they come, so I’ve compiled them in this article, some of which feature on my Porto food tours.

Pasteis de Bacalhau

pasteise_bacalhau_in_porto

If you know Porto, you know there are codfish no matter where you go. My favorite version of it is pasteis de bacalhau. 

These traditional Portuguese cod balls are often called salt cod fritters; they look exactly like your typical croquettes. Soaked in breadcrumbs and offering a crispy exterior, the inside is where the real magic happens, though. 

With every bite, you’ll be treated to a creamy mix of salty cod and mashed potato.

The pasteis de bacalhau recipe is said to have come from about when the potato was originally found in Portugal around the 1760s. This recipe was later brought to Brazil, and the Brazilians now have their own version of it.

Where To Eat It?

If foodies want to get their hands on some pasteis de bacalhau, Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau near Clérigos tower is one of the best restaurants for it.

Everything about this place is amazing for me: the walls are lined with bookshelves, the port wine that comes straight from their cellars is world-class, and the croquettes are superb.

My pastel de bacalhau came in a paper box with a branded sticker on top of it. I’m still envisioning the first bite, the way the smoky Queijo da Serra burst onto my tongue and blended delightfully with the sweet and salted delicate cod.

Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau – Clérigos (€€€) – Campo dos Mártires da Pátria 108, 4050-367 Porto, Portugal – Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, and Wednesday, 10:30 am to 9:00 pm

Caldo Verde

caldo_verde_porto

Warm yourself up after a dip in the Atlantic with a hearty bowl of caldo verde, a comforting soup recipe made with cabbage, olive oil, pepper, salt, potatoes, onions, and garlic. Most orders of caldo verde come with a side of bread, so you can soak up the leftovers at the end.

Caldo Verde is closely related to the famous Festival of St John of Porto, which happens on June 23rd of every year. On this night, bowls of caldo verde are served in abundance, and when everyone is finished, they tuck right into a nice glass of port; it’s tradition.

Where To Eat It?

Across the street from the Museu da Cidade do Porto is Casa Expresso, where you can find some of the finest caldo verde, not just in Porto but in all of Portugal. 

While Portuguese food is Casa Expresso’s forte, they’ve done well creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere beyond its doors. With bricked walls, wooden ceilings, and welcoming staff, it’s old-age Portugal here with a modern twist.

I’ve been coming here for as long as I can remember, and their bowls keep getting better every time. I love seeing that stainless steel bowl get dropped in front of me and the earthy green aromas that rise up with the steam into my nostrils; I know a good feed is ahead of me.

I find the caldo verde at Casa Expresso to be extra garlicky with a pungent kick from the onions. The texture of the potatoes was soft because they were soaked in cabbagey broth, which gave the flavor profile a vegetal edge.

Casa Expresso (€) – Praça de Carlos Alberto 73, 4050-158 Porto, Portugal – Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 10:30 pm, Saturday, 9:30 to 10:30 pm and closed on Sunday

Tripas à Moda do Porto

tripas_à_moda_do_porto

A friend of mine told me before I first went to Porto that if I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone, I must try tripas à moda do porto. He was right, this traditional dish isn’t for everyone, but it sure is adventurous for those who want to indulge.

The main ingredients for tripas à moda do porto are pork tripe, chouriço, onion, garlic, bacon, olive oil, bay leaf, pepper, salt, white rice, and beef stomach. 

It’s cooked at low heat in a pot for many hours. The aim is to make sure the tripe is smooth and delicate before it gets dished up. 

The recipe comes from a story about Prince Henry the Navigator, who needed help from the local people of Porto to supply him with meat for one of his sails. All they had left was tripe, and what they came up with to survive was tripas à moda do porto.

Where To Eat It?

A short walk from the Church of Saint Ildefonso, you’ll find Abadia do Porto. Now, this place has a reputation for its portion size of tripas à moda do porto; I’ve tried and tested it, and I can confirm that the rumors are correct. Don’t dare try to finish a portion on your own, or you’ll fail epically.

I thought Abadia do Porto was quite unassuming at first. The front of the building doesn’t look like anything special, but inside, it’s a different story. There are two fabulously open decorated floors filled with table settings covered in red and white tablecloths. 

The tripas à moda do porto came out in a humongous steel pot straight off the hob; you could feel the heat off it. Then, the server gave us two bowls and a side of white, and it was time to dig in.

Every mouthful was like a rollercoaster: spiciness from the sausage, tangy notes from the tomato paste, robust gamey flavors from the tripe, and a lovely herbal essence for the aftertaste.

Abadia do Porto (€€) – R. do Ateneu Comercial do Porto 22, 4000-380 Porto, Portugal – Tuesday to Saturday, 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm, Monday, 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm, and closed on Sunday

Francesinha

francesinha_in_porto

It may not get any points for its questionable look or health benefits, but francesinha is the mother of all sandwiches in Porto. 

To say francesinha is a concoction would be an understatement; it comes with two pieces of bread and is loaded with onion, tomato, chorizo, ham, or steak. On top, there are layers of cheese melted all over, and a fried egg is put on, too.

If that’s not enough, a type of tomato gravy sauce is poured over it as a finishing touch. Let’s just say you wouldn’t go order this as an appetizer.

Sloppy and messy, the concept of francesinha came from a Portuguese immigrant who spent time in France. He came back and tried to make his own version of the croque monsieur, and the result was this recipe.

Where To Eat It?

Every newbie to francesinha should try their first one at Dona Francesinha Porto, as I did. I went in here one of the days after a walk around the Jardim Marques de Oliveira; I had Googled “francesinha nearby,” and this is where it took me.

The inside of this Porto restaurant was shaped like a long hall with settings on both sides of the wall, with couches on the right and traditional tables and chairs on the left. Bright and airy interiors surrounded the place, and the friendly staff were very welcoming to me from start to finish.

Nothing could prepare me for the francesinha here, though. It was served drenched in a gravy sauce filling up a quarter of the bowl, and the oozing cheese leaked into it.

To say francesinha was heavy would be a huge understatement. Between the umaminess from the layers of meats and the tanginess of the cheese, all of that mixed in with the rich and creaminess of the fried egg. I still feel exhausted right now thinking about it.

Dona Francesinha Porto – R. de Passos Manuel 245, 4000-385 Porto, Portugal – Tuesday to Saturday, 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm, Sunday, 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, and closed on Monday

Cachorrinho

cachorrinho_in_porto

Another sandwich that you’ll find yourself chowing down on while you’re exploring downtown Porto is cachorrinho

Slightly less heavy than francesinha, but still on the filling side, cachorrinho is like a hotdog with two slices of crispy bread, sausage, melted cheese, and spicy sauce.

As soon as lunchtime comes around in Porto, cachorrinhos are everywhere, from businessmen on their breaks to tourists trying them out for the first time.

Where To Eat It?

One of the best Porto restaurants for a cachorrinho near Porto Cathedral is Gazela, a simple snack bar that comes alive during the afternoon.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have recommended that I go here. I eventually gave in last year, and I understood why so many people rave about it. 

When I walked through the door, I immediately got pub vibes from the place: people sitting around the bar on stools, chatting away and having a good time. The food, too, was pub grub style. I ordered an ice-cold pint of Super Bock and a cachorrinho, so I fit right in among the other patrons.

The cachorrinho came on a standard plate split into two pieces. What looked quite basic was anything but that, with the juicy sausage exploding with smoky flavors mixed in with the crunchiness from the bread and cream finish made from the mayonnaise and cheese.

Gazela (€) – Tv. do Cimo de Vila 4, 4000-434 Porto, Portugal – Monday to Saturday, 12:00 pm to 10:30 pm, and closed on Sunday

Bacalhau Com Natas

bacalhau_com_natas_porto

As if the people of Porto couldn’t get enough salt cod, well, think again; it’s in their blood. Bacalhau com natas is another fresh seafood-based dish, it’s a type of potato cake filled with various layers of cream, onions, and salted cod. There are various usually sprinkled on it, like parsley, too.

The origins behind bacalhau com natas are unknown, but the original recipe is said to have contained mashed potato rather than fried chopped potatoes in the middle of it, so be mindful when ordering.

Where To Eat It?

On Afonso Martins Alho, there’s this phenomenal Portuguese tapas restaurant called “VOLTARIA” – Petisqueira Portuguesa that serves some seriously good bacalhau com natas. 

The eatery itself is tiny; it’s undoubtedly one of the smallest I’ve been to in Porto, but they do have some outdoor seats, which make up for it. Unfortunately, once dinner time comes, it can be difficult to get a seat, so you have to be lucky on the night.

Most of the dishes here are tapas size you’d find in every typical European city, so I recommend you order a couple of things at once. I went here specifically to try the bacalhau com natas; I wasn’t that hungry, so I just stuck with that.

The bacalhau com natas came in a bowl with a spoon and a side plate in case I wanted to scoop some off and enjoy it with something else. The portion size was moderate, but the food itself was quite heavy. 

It was really creamy and rich with a savory side to it because of the bacalhau. I thought the fish gave the sweetness from the onions and cream a light saltiness, which was the perfect blend.

“VOLTARIA” – Petisqueira Portuguesa (€€) – R. Afonso Martins Alho 109, Porto, Portugal – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm and 6:30 to 10:00 pm, and closed on Sunday and Wednesday

Conclusion

These 6 foods must be included on your next trip to the city of Porto in northern Portugal. There’s a nice mix of meat-heavy delights and light soups in here, so you can have something to try at various times of the day from the Portuguese cuisine.

While only a three-hour drive from Lisbon, Porto’s cuisine is vastly different and still holds its authenticity, which I know you’ll enjoy when you get here.

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