In 1415, before setting sail to take the city of Ceuta, Portuguese duke Prince Henry the Navigator asked the people of Porto to supply his ships with food of all kinds. So generous were the people of Porto, so the legend goes, they were left with only tripe to eat.
- Best Destination in Europe 2012, 2014 and 2017.
- Thousands of charms to discover in the capital of Northern Portugal.
- Besides history and culture, Porto is also leisure, fun and night life.
Porto’s Most Famous Dishes
This generosity earned the people of the city the nickname “Tripeiros” or ‘tripe men’ and spawned the creation of Porto’s most famous dish: Tripas à Moda do Porto or ‘Porto-style tripe’. Don’t let the name put you off: this is actually a delicious hearty stew of offal, beans, sausage, vegetables and herbs.
Porto’s other quintessential plateful is the Francesinha, a popular open sandwich that layers linguiça (a garlicky smoked sausage) with roast steak or pork, ham, melted cheese and a rich spicy tomato sauce made with beer. This is ubiquitous in lunchtime cafes and late-night eateries and should be tried at least once – ideally with a glass of Tinto Bruto, or sparking red wine, in an atmospheric wood-beamed tavern.
What you need to know
- Porto is one of the oldest cities of the country and the starting point for a Douro river cruise.
- In 1415, the people of Porto helped generously to supply with food the Portuguese ships headed to conquer north Africa.
- “Francesinha” is a popular open sandwich that layers linguiça (a garlicky smoked sausage) with roast steak or pork, ham, melted cheese and a rich spicy tomato sauce made with beer.
Wonderful Fish and Seafood
With the Douro river winding through the city from the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, it is only to be expected that Porto and the surrounding region serve up some wonderful fish dishes.
Portugal, of course, is famed for its salt cod, which is served in many ways; one of the best being bacalhau com natas, or cod with cream. In Porto, grilled octopus or polpo is another delicious favourite or, when in season (February and the early months of the year), an eel-like fish called lampreia or lamprey.
If fish dishes are you thing, from Porto you can take a wooden ferry to the neighbouring village of Afurada or the metro up to Matosinhos. Choose one of the local tascas to enjoy an atmospheric plate of freshly caught seafood in traditional surroundings. The stylish oceanfront neighbourhood of Foz do Douro offers up more tantalising fish restaurants, some with gorgeous ocean views, as well as the Michelin-starred Pedro Lemos.
Wherever you choose to eat, pair your fresh fish with a delicious glass of light, fresh Vinho Verde, Portugal’s unique wines from the Minho region, to the northwest of Porto.
Head to the Hills
Over the river from Porto is Vila Nova de Gaia, site of the caves or port lodges. As well as taking a tour and sampling the eponymous drink in these magnificent old warehouses, you’ll find local specialities like caldo verde, a kale soup, and broa de Avintes, corn bread.
Gaia is also home to the two-Michelin-starred The Yeatman, where you can enjoy innovative cooking from its scenic hilltop location with panoramic views over the port warehouses, Douro river and the twinkling city lights of Porto.
Beyond the city, Trás-os-Montes has been making smooth floral white wines and fruity reds since Roman times. It’s also well-known for producing delicious smoked and cured meats – you’ll come across them on many a local restaurant menu or as a petisco, Portugal’s answer to tapas, or in Porto’s impressive and atmospheric wrought-iron covered market Mercado do Bolhão.
With pastelarias, pastry shops, and padarias, bakeries, around almost every street corner, those with a sweet tooth will be in heaven in northern Portugal.
You will like
- Taste Porto and northern portuguese top Cuisine.
- Port wine cellars.
- Porto's historical centre.
When in Porto, enjoy a pastry in the beautiful gilt-edged art nouveau surroundings of Café Majestic, whose delicious cream-filled éclairs taste heaven-sent. Or chocolate lovers should head for the Chocolateria Arcádia on: Rua do Almada 63 for beautiful boxes of Portuguese chocolates.
The classic Portuguese dessert is the Pastel de Nata (Nata) or Pastel de Belém custard tart. Although hailing from Lisbon, you’ll find it all over Portugal, including the north. Sweet delicacies more local to Porto and the north of Portugal include the syrup-swathed Papos de Anjo from Amarante, the jam-filled clarinhas de Fão, and Charuto, long cigars of rice paper stuffed with almonds from Arcos de Valdevez and Ponte de Lima.
And, of course, whatever dessert you choose, in Porto you’re never too far away from the perfect after-dinner accompaniment.