In Portugal one often hears it said that ‘the North is where one eats well’. And this saying is especially apt in Porto!
There can be no mention of Porto’s gastronomy without referring to the Tripas à Moda do Porto, the dish that gave this city’s inhabitants their name (Tripeiros). This typical dish has a long story. The most common story told about this dish’s origins is that at the time of the Discoveries, Henry the Navigator, who was born in this city, asked his people to help him by providing enough food to supply his caravels. In response, the people came together and gave him all the meat they had so that his caravels could set sail to conquer Ceuta, being left only with the tripe for themselves. They made a dish with what was left over that went down in history and that has an obligatory mention in every local restaurant’s menu.
Another typical dish is the Francesinha. This dish is made up of thin spicey smoked sausage, fresh sausage, beef or pork fillet, ham and cold meats in between slices of bread and covered with melted cheese. The secret of this delicacy lies in the accompanying sauce, which is made of tomato, beer and hot spices. It is accompanied with fried eggs, which are normally placed on top and French fries. Nowadays there are a large variety of francesinhas, including chicken, tuna and vegetarian, amongst others.
With its strong links to the sea, in certain areas of Porto, like Foz and Matosinhos, you can always enjoy fresh fish and shellfish, or even sushi.
There are other Porto dishes that shouldn’t be missed and that you can try in the more well-known areas such as Baixa, Boavista, Ribeira or even in Vila Nova de Gaia. There is a wide range of choices, including meat (rabbit, kid and duck) and fish dishes (salted codfish, octopus, fried cuttlefish). There is also a wide variety of restaurants, ranging from the typically Portuguese to thematic gastronomy such as Japanese, vegetarian and Italian, amongst others.
Porto’s wide range of restaurants are also suited to everyone’s pocket price-wise. Here, you will find suggestions for all price ranges, from the most economical to the most luxurious.
Hotels also provide restaurants that are renowned for their cuisine, wine lists and views over the city, as is the case of 17º Restaurante & Bar, in the Hotel Dom Henrique Downtown, which offers a magnificent view over the city, from over 150m above sea level and exquisite Mediterranean and traditional Portuguese cuisine. Hotel da Música’s Restaurante ‘Bom Sucesso Gourmet’ offers exclusive dishes, with the signature of the resident chef. This hotel is apt to receive Jewish tourism and possesses a certified kosher kitchen. The Yeatman Oporto in Vila Nova de Gaia boasts the largest cellar of Portuguese wines in the world and received an award for 'Best Wine List', to accompany the dishes of the restaurant to whom have been attributed Michelin Stars, in the guides 2012 to 2015.
This city also boasts typical sweets that can’t be missed, such as Pão de Ló (a light and spongy cake that can be filled with a sweet egg-based cream or not), the Papos de Anjo (a traditional convent-recipe sweet made with sweet egg yolks) or the Biscoito do Teixeira (a dark, hard sweet, tasting of saffron which is found in the pilgrimages or markets).
Forget the weighing scales for a few days, then make it up at the gymn. Be sure to take advantage of the visit and taste what Porto has to offer you! Bom appétit!