We loved Porto, Portugal. Having traveled to Lisbon many times, and ventured to Alentejo, Minho, and the Douro Valley, we realized how much we love Portuguese food. But, we had limited time in Porto. For our list of foods to eat in Porto, and our recommendations for the best restaurants in Porto, we sought some help. Included in our ultimate Porto food guide are recommendations from top Porto food blog and Porto travel bloggers on where to eat in Porto. Some of whom are very adamant when it comes to their views on Portuguese food! We also added our own recommendations and experiences as well!
Porto Food Blog
In this Porto guide, we run down the top Porto foods you must eat when visiting Porto. And one of these includes the most famous Portuguese food to track down in Porto!
Then, in our Porto Portugal restaurant guide, we include a few different Porto restaurant recommendations. First, we include some of our personal recommendations for some of the top restaurants in Porto. Yes, these include some of the fancier Porto restaurants. Then, we include some recommendations for where to find some more traditional Portuguese food.
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Top Porto Foods to Eat
Regardless of which Porto restaurants you choose, keep an eye open for these Porto dishes. Some of these are Porto-specific. Others are typical Portuguese foods in general. And, each of these dishes can be found in some of the best restaurants in Portugal. That includes contemporary versions of traditional dishes. It’s important when considering food to try in Porto that you try a mix of traditional and contemporary versions.
Bacalau – Portuguese Salted Cod
It’s hard to find a Portuguese restaurant that doesn’t serve bacalhau! It is served as a starter or main, and it’s not unlikely to have it more than once in a single meal.
At Vinum, we tried two different versions of bacalhau. The first was a traditional bacalhau, or Portuguese salted codfish served as an amuse bouche. Bite-sized, light, and with a bit of crispness.
The second preparation of bacalhau at Vinum reminded me more of the version we ate in Minho during our Vinho Verde wine tasting tour. Seared and served over a touch of caldo verde, a traditional Portuguese soup. The bacalhau was simply stunning. Tender and moist, with a bit of aioli on the top. These two dishes together demonstrate some of the creativity of the restaurants in Porto by serving traditional Portuguese dishes in more modern ways.
What to Eat: The famous Portuguese salted codfish, bacalhau.
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The Porto Bifana
James over at The Portugalist recommends the bifana in Porto. This is one of our favorite sandwiches to eat in Lisbon too!
The bifana – a sandwich that consists of marinated pork in a bread roll – is a seemingly simple sandwich, but don’t let its simplicity fool you. It’s one of Portugal’s best snack foods, and a must-try when you’re visiting Porto.
Nobody is quite sure where the bifana originates from, but most people believe that the original recipe was conceived in Vendas Novas in the Alentejo. But, even though Vendas Novas may have created the bifana, the bifanas in Porto are considered to be the best in Portugal.
Like all great recipes, the secret to Porto’s success with the bifana is in the sauce: ‘bifanas a moda do Porto’ are served in a sauce, whereas Vendas Novas bifanas are sauce-less and rely on the addition of squeezy mustard to keep them juicy.
Every cafe has their own variation on the sauce. Most sauces are made up of white wine, garlic, bay leaves, lard, olive oil, piri-piri sauce, ground cloves, and chicken stock. Restaurante Conga on Rua do Bonjardim is one restaurant whose sauce is generally agreed to have reached a state of perfection. It’s even attracted the admiration of international chefs like Anthony Bourdain. If you’re visiting Porto, be sure to add this restaurant to your bucket list.
What to Eat: The bifana Porto sandwich
Where to Eat It: Restaurante Conga, Rua do Bonjardim, 314, Porto
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The Francesinha – The Ultimate Porto Sandwich
Cláudia from Couple RTW jumped at the chance to share the Francescinha as one of the must eat foods in Porto. We tried this dish in its traditional form in Lisbon. But, also tried some more contemporary versions in Porto. It’s definitely one of the things to eat in Porto.
The Francesinha is one of Porto’s most famous dishes. It is defined as being a “Portuguese sandwich,” but it is much more.
The dish consists of toasted bread filled with ham, several types of sausage, and steak. Yes, that’s 3 kinds of meat! It is covered by melted cheese and hot thick tomato, beer, and peri-peri sauce. In the end, it is topped with a fried egg and french fries. It is definitely not a dish to eat on a daily basis, but on those days you are craving for good stuff with cheese, it is comfort food.
There are several stories about the origins of the Francesinha (meaning Frenchie in Portuguese). The most popular one is about an immigrant that was influenced by the croque-monsieur and created the francesinha and its fantastic sauce in 1953 in the restaurant Regaleira.
Around Porto, you will find several restaurants claiming that the original recipe is from their restaurant, but most of them are tourist traps. The excellence of the Francesinha depends on the quality of the sauce and the meats used.
What to Eat: The Francesinha, either a traditional big “sandwich” or a contemporary version.
Where to Eat it: Cláudia recommended several good places to eat Francesinhas, some of them offer, arguably, the best Francesinha in Porto. She recommendations include Francesinha Cafe, Santiago, or Lado B. We also had a tasty contemporary take at Porto Cruz, which is pictured below. All the flavors of the famous Portuguese dish, but in slightly more than bite-size form.
Alheira – Portuguese Sausage
During our trip to Portugal, we also learned about alheira, a smoked bread sausage popular in the north. It is soft and almost chewy on the inside. At Vinum, the alheira had a crisp skin to it. The alheira was served with tender, roasted red and green peppers. It can also be served a lot more rustic, with cabbage, potatoes, and even a fried egg.
What to Eat: Alheira sausage
Where to Eat it: Vinum had a more contemporary version, but our favorite was outside Porto in the Douro Valley at Morgadio da Calçada. It’s a wine hotel, but the owner served an amazing alheira!
Pastéis de Nata
We didn’t really need Mike from 197 travel stamps to tell us that this is one of the top Portuguese foods every traveler must eat. But, he insisted. We fell in love with them during an early food trip to Lisbon, and have been in love with them sine them.
Pastéis de Nata are small custard tart pastries with a crispy crust. And an absolute must try during every visit to Porto or Portugal in general. The pastry was originally invented in Lisbon in the 18th century. But it soon spread throughout the Portuguese speaking world. Still today, you can find them in many shops throughout Brazil, Macau, Angola, and other former Portuguese colonies.
In Porto, you can find them in most cafés and bakeries. But one of the best places for Pastéis de Nata in Porto is the Nata Lisboa in Rua de Santa Catarina close to Bolhao metro station. If you want to experience the real taste, it’s the best place to try them. They will reheat the little bits from heaven just before serving them so the custard filling creates a real taste explosion with the crunchy crust. This way, the hint of cinnamon inside the egg custard filling is also stronger and adds to the culinary experience.
What to Eat: Pastéis de Nata – every day during your stay in Porto! Sprinkle cinnamon on the top.
Where to Eat it: Nata Lisboa, Rua de Santa Catarina 499, Porto
Book a Private Pastel de Nata Workshop with Viator- From $37
Looking For Great Food and Wine Tours in Portugal?
Need more advice on eating in Portugal? Check out our recommendations for the best Portuguese food tours, cooking classes, and wine tours. These tours are in Porto, or in the Douro Valley and Minho, but can be booked as a day trip from Porto. It’s the best way to learn more about great Porto food and wine and to get a head start on learning what to eat in Porto. We recommend booking tours through Viator. They are a well-known international tour booking company, and tours can be confirmed instantaneously. Tours are normally conducted by a local and provide inside information on Porto and the surrounding area.
|Tour||Duration||City of Departure||Price From||Book It!|
|Private Tour of Douro Wineries and Vineyards||10 Hours||Porto||$500|
|Douro Valley Grape Harvest - Picking & Tasting||10 Hours||Porto||$148|
|Minho & Vinho Verde Gastronomic Tour & Tasting||11 Hours||Porto||$136|
|Vinho Verde Wine Tour & Lunch||11 Hours||Porto||$112|
|Porto City Flavors Gastronomy Tour||Flexible||Porto||$91|
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
And, for more Portuguese culinary travel inspiration, check out our Portugal food travel guide.
Where to Eat in Porto Portugal – Vila Nova de Gaia
First, a note about where to eat in Porto when it comes to neighborhoods and geography. Porto is a city split by the River Douro. On one side is the historic center, Porto Old Town. This side has a traditional promenade loaded with restaurants with a view of the river and the hills surrounding Porto. To me, many of these restaurants are a bit too touristy. In fact, one of the restaurants where we ate in Porto, which I am not mentioning, is on this side of the city, overlooking the river. To me, the area is just a little too touristy.
On the other side of the River is Vila Nova de Gaia. It is where the large port houses, or caves, are located. This is where the Port wine tours happen. And, who doesn’t love exploring the world while tasting wine?
This side of the Douro River is where the aging, packaging, transport, and export occurs of the fortified wine known as port wine. It’s possible to walk around the riverfront, and up into the hills, tasting port wine, and touring the wineries. The opportunity to taste port wine at so many places within the city is one of the things that makes Porto stand out as unique.
There is still a buzz of tourist activity in Vila Nova de Gaia. But the meals we had on that side of the river really stood out. This was in part because of the lovely views of Porto, and in part, because they were just well-prepared meals. This is why our primary recommendations include several in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Our Recommended Best Restaurants in Porto Portugal
Sometimes people think we only travel for the so-called fancy foods. That we specialize in Michelin Star restaurants, like Can Roca in Girona. And, yes, there are times that we love fancy luxury dining. But we also love street food and traditional recipes. The good news is that you can find this all in Porto!
But, because of our focus on luxury travel, we will start with what many people might say are the best places to eat in Porto Portugal.
Check Out the Best Restaurants in Porto Portugal – Updated 2018
Rui Paula’s DOP Porto – Where To Eat For Fine Dining
There are a lot of nice restaurants in Porto and a night eating out in Porto Portugal is something special. DOP Porto is also one of the best restaurants in Porto. Set inside the Palace of the Arts in the historic center of Porto, DOP Porto focuses on contemporary interpretations of classical Portuguese dishes. Chef Rui Paula, who we had the privilege of meeting during our dinner in Porto Portugal, learned how to cook from his grandmother. I always love to hear this about a chef.
Chef Rui prepared a tasting menu for us, which allowed us to taste a wider variety of dishes. It also added an element of surprise to the meal. Although we ate multiple courses, with a heavy influence of fish and seafood, two particular dishes stood out.
One of our starters was a codfish carpaccio with cornbread crumbs and olives. The carpaccio was so thin I almost didn’t see it on the white plate.
The second, at first, seemed like a simple hunk of meat, with mashed potatoes and vegetables. Boy, was I wrong calling it a simple hunk of meat. I learned that the meat was Bisaro pork neck, served with celeriac root.
The chef cooked the pork neck for at least 12 hours, which made it so unbelievably tender. Chef Rui roasted the pork neck in sparkling wine, along with paprika, thyme, Tabasco, and some other seasonings. This dish, honestly, made the meal at DOP Porto really stand out.
Chef Rui also has a restaurant in the Douro Valley. I would recommend trying at least one of them. And seek out the pork neck!
Vinum at Graham’s – Restaurant in Porto Portugal With a View
One of our first stops upon arriving in Porto was at Graham’s 1890 Lodge. We stopped for a tour of the cellar, and a magnificent tasting of port wine. A few days later, and after our Douro Valley wine tasting tour, we returned to dine at Vinum at Graham’s.
Sharing the hillside land with Graham’s, Vinum’s has a prime vantage point over the Douro River and Porto in the distance. We started with a white port cocktail on the patio. We then moved into their glass enclosed dining area. We continued to enjoy the view while dining on contemporary versions of traditional Portuguese dishes.
The main event at Vinum, though, was a large platter of meat that was placed in the center of the table. It was a large t-bone steak, grilled to perfection, and seasoned with nothing but salt. Served with a salad and salted potatoes, it was a very typical asado-style meal, one reminding me of the meat we’ve eaten in Argentina.
One of the things I love about this kind of preparation is that the animal is of such good quality, and the meat is prepared so well, that there is no need for any sort of marination (like the pork neck at DOP Porto). Instead, all you need is salt. It is this kind of preparation that has schooled me on what good meat is.
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Of course, each of these dishes was washed down with amazing Portuguese wine. Our desserts were no different when Vinum rolled out aged vintage port from Graham’s. A ten-year-old tawny port was served tableside in a comically large bottle, one which I kind of wanted to swipe at the end of the meal.
Porto Cruz – Best Restaurants Porto Portugal – For Port
One of our last meals in Porto, before we headed north for a few days of drinking Vinho Verde in Minho, was also in Vila Nova de Gaia. I’m not sure why a majority of our great meals were not actually in Porto. But, they were close enough, just across the river, to still make my list of where to eat in Porto.
Another one of the famous port houses along the Douro is Porto Cruz. Their location along the main strand includes an interpretative center to help people better understand port, and which port might be right for them. They also house art exhibitions. They have a rooftop bar with a stunning view over Porto. This makes it one of the best bars in Porto with a view, and a great Porto wine bar. As much as Vinum is set up the hill in Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto Cruz is set almost at eye level to the river. It provides an entirely different vantage point from which to see Porto.
The dining concept at Porto Cruz’s restaurant, Decastro Gaia, is also a little different, with a more tapas style. Small plates of traditional Portuguese dishes, some with a modern twist, while enjoying some nice Portuguese wines. What a perfect way to spend the afternoon eating in Porto.
We easily knocked back at least six or seven plates of Portuguese style tapas at Porto Cruz. But, a few of the dishes stood out.
After our pork neck at DOP Porto, I became a lot more open-minded about dishes that come from the neck of an animal. But, before trying this dish, I had no ideas that codfish even had necks. But, there we were, eating codfish neck croquettes. The batter was nice and fluffy and accented the fish well.
One of the most famous sandwiches in Porto is the Francescinha. It’s a behemoth of a sandwich, which we accidentally ordered one night while staying at the Four Seasons Lisbon. What I read on the menu was a sandwich in a cheese sauce. What we received what a heart attack on a plate. The mini Franchesinha at Decastro Gaia, though, was the perfect compromise. I love the cheese and the sauce, I could just go without the kilo of meat they stuff in the middle.
Another fabulous dish was the duck a bras. We first tried a bras while eating at the Porto Bay Liberadade in Lisbon, and I loved it. A bras is a preparation of codfish (of course), with shredded potato, eggs, and often with black olives. This duck version was also very good, very creamy, and very fresh. A great last dish to finish off our tour of Porto.
Book a Port Wine Tasting at Porto Cruz – From only $11
Learn more about Portugal Food: Book a Top Porto Food Tour
Our Travel Blogger Recommendations – Where to Eat in Portugal
In this section of our Porto travel guide, we took recommendations from other travel bloggers, and Portuguese locals to provide more recommendations on where to eat in Porto.
Josie over at Where Jo Goes recommended a Porto-style tapas restaurant. “We are in Porto but our soul travels the world” announces the menu at Porto restaurant, Tapabento. Tucked away down a side street at the north end of Sao Bento railway station is this informal and cozy restaurant, serving fantastic food. This small Porto restaurant cooks with local fresh produce and declares it wants every guest to feel welcome.
Tapas are of course famous in Spain but offered in many restaurants in Portugal as well. Tapabento is no exception with a range of small plates to share including bruschetta, oysters, and razor clams. The menu changes according to what is available locally. You can’t go to Porto and not sample the port that made the city famous. Tapabento has a small selection from some of the most famous port houses in the city to wash down your meal. For a warm welcome and delicious fresh food in the heart of the city, Tapabento will make you feel at home.
Porto Food Tip: Book ahead because Tapabento is a small restaurant. Try the prawns in saffron sauce.
Book a Porto Tapas & Vinho Verde Tour with Viator – From $54
Fish Fixe for Seafood – Best Places to Eat Porto
Fiona of London Unattached also offers a great Porto seafood recommendation. Hers is in the heart of the old town.
On a recent visit to explore the culture and heritage of Porto, she dined at Fish Fixe. It’s located on the banks of the Douro River and right on the edge of the historic center of Porto on Cais de Ribeira and by Ponte Luiz I. The restaurant has stunning views across the river and serves an excellent lunch of mixed local dishes.
Situated in a 300-year-old house that the owner renovated into the existing restaurant, Fish Fixe runs over three floors – with the best views from the top floors. There’s a wealth of options to choose from, tapas style, including octopus salad, stewed mussels, and seafood rice. Don’t miss the salt cod balls, or pataniscas de bacalau. They are deep fried versions of the typical Portuguese salted cod.
Once you’ve finished eating you can wander along the banks of the river or stroll into the city in a matter of minutes
Porto Food Tip: As discussed below, it’s hard to find good places to eat in Porto Old Town. So, it’s nice to have Fish Fixe as an option if you are in that more touristy part of town. Check out the views of Porto from the top floor!
Comer e Chorar Por Mais
Thomas over at Trip Gourmets offers another traditional recommendation for Porto foods. Built in 1912, Comer e Chorar Por Mais is a tiny deli whose name translates from Portuguese as “eat and cry for more”. While it was always a local shop for coffee, tea, and groceries, it has been a luxury food store since 1970 when Fernando Varandas took over the business.
Today, the shop specializes in famous Portuguese sardines, cheese, meats, olive oils, and jams, as well as the famed local Port wine. Outside of the shop, the owner often has a display of fresh fruit to catch the eyes of potential customers. The walls inside are stacked with Port wine bottles, some as old as 50 years. Thomas found out that one specific bottle from 1963 would set your holiday budget back by €7,000 per bottle! You definitely get a taste of Porto if you stop here and try some of the amazing local foods.
Porto Food Tip: It’s possible to purchase traditional Portuguese products from the shop to take on a little picnic. But, some of the Porto food tours also make tasting stops at Comer e Chorar Por Mais.
O Forn Dos Clerigos
Although, it is called a cafe, it has a wide range of dishes that could be a great lunch after getting to the top of the nearby tower. O Forn Dos Clerigos is certainly not the best Porto restaurant, it has a great selection of traditional Portuguese foods. And, all dishes offer a great value. It’s possible to try many of the traditional Portuguese dishes discussed above, including Francesinha, bacalhau rolls, and pastel de nata.
Porto Food Tip: Save room if possible for some amazing gelato nearby (see below!)
Santini Gelato in Porto
One of the things we don’t write a lot about on this culinary blog is dessert. We are not huge dessert eaters. Often we fill up on the savory dishes. Other than going hog wild on Italian gelato in Emilia Romagna, dessert often gets left behind.
Linda at Retired and Traveling recommended her favorite place for dessert in Porto – Santini Gelato. This Porto cafe focuses on coffee, gelato, and dessert! When looking for the best gelato in Porto, Santini is the place! Located near the top of the Clerigos Tower, Santini is the perfect way to regain strength after the climb up the stairs.
They also have shops in a few other Portuguese cities too. Linda stopped there for gelato. But she, like others, got tempted by what they call the “best chocolate tart in the world.” With a side of raspberry and dark chocolate gelato, it could make anyone forget the climb up those stairs.
Porto Food Tip: It’s possible to order a big tub of gelato to go.
Where to Eat in Porto – The Details
Here are all the details on where to eat in Porto, both from our Porto food travel recommendations, and those of our Portugal travel blog experts:
DOP Porto serves an executive lunch during the week, where three courses cost only €20. A five-course tasting menu for dinner ranges between €60-75, with wine pairings at €30-35. Starters on the a la carte menu run between €5-20 and most entrees cost around €20. Chef Rui Paula has another restaurant in the Douro Valley, Portugal, and one in Recife, Brazil.
Vinum at Graham’s also serves a three-course executive lunch Monday through Friday. Starters on the main menu start at €8, with mains starting around €24. Glasses of Graham’s port start at only €3.
Decastro Gaia’s Portuguese style tapas start at only €4 a plate, making it the best value on where to eat in Porto. Full-sized main courses start at €10.
Os Lusíadas: Rua Tomás Ribeiro, 257, Matosinho. Anytime seafood is eaten like this, it’s going to be more expensive. But at Os Lusiadas, the quality is there!
Tapabento: Rua da Madeira, no 222, Porto. Tapas start around €7, with seafood dishes costing more. Main courses start around €14.
Fish Fixe: Cais da Ribeira, 9, Porto. Tapas range from €4.50-13.
Cafe Santiago: Cafe Santiago, R. de Passos Manuel 226, Porto. Francescinha prices range from €9-11 depending on which is chosen.
O Forn Dos Clerigos: Rua dos Clérigos 64, Porto.
Santini: Rua dos Caldeireiros 239-241, Porto.
Porto Food Map: Where to Find Our Recommendations for the Top Restaurants in Porto
Recommended Porto Hotels
Get more Porto Hotel Recommendations here
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
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