Portuguese Food

Find out all you need to know about the best Portuguese food and drinks before your trip.

Food in Portugal is so rich in seafood that most of its iconic dishes contain freshly caught fish or crustaceans in one way or another. It also features the best of Mediterranean cuisine with a significant amount of olive oil and greens. Learn about the exquisite dishes and desserts in Portugal with our Portuguese food guide before you start exploring the winding streets filled with must-visit restaurants and eateries. Before you arrive, also keep in mind these Portuguese food tips:

  • Eating habits in Portugal are not much different than in the rest of the Mediterranean. In some restaurants, you will still be served as late as 12pm.
  • If you wish to eat like a local in Portugal, take your time with every course, and cherish the wide variety of appetizers.
  • Pay attention to the regional variation in wines across Portugal. Portuguese wine menus distinguish between red, white, and rosé, and also between ‘verde’ (green) and ‘maduro’ (mature).

Must-Try Portuguese Foods

Here are the top dishes of the Portuguese food scene that will help you eat like a local:

Portuguese food
Grilled Sardines

Portuguese food is famous for its maritime history and wealth of seafood, combining fresh products with the main ingredients of the Mediterranean. Grilled sardines is one of the dishes that hails the cuisine. You will see fresh sardines cooked on open-fire grills on the street almost everywhere. If you wish to eat sardines like the Portuguese, hold the whole fish on both sides and nibble from the side. Lisbon even has a festival celebrating sardines, where you will find the best dishes.

portuguese food
Cataplana de Marisco

The star dish of the Algarve region of Portugal, cataplana de marisco is the sea stewed and served on a plate. Locals cook it in a cataplana, which means copper pan in Portuguese. Prawns, clams, fish, and shrimp blend in a tantalizing mix of their own juices and white wine. Locally grown veggies like onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers accompany the seafood in the clam-shaped pan.

portuguese food
Bacalhau

The most famous dish in Portugal will greet you in every restaurant, eatery, and street food stall. Bacalhau is dried and salted cod, another seafood highlight that is almost symbolic to Portugal. The ways of cooking and serving it are endless—you can taste it with scrambled eggs, onions, and potatoes, or boiled with vegetables. You will even find recipes with cream and cheese. Give different varieties a try in Portugal’s best restaurants.

portuguese food
Francesinha

This time, seafood leaves its place to the curated meats of Portugal and offers a feast for your tastebuds in Francesinha, or the “Little Frenchie”. It is a street food staple and the pride of Porto, where it first entered the Portuguese food scene. The name comes from its French origins. Ham, sausage, steak, or roast beef goes between in thick slices of bread, which are dipped in tomato sauce and melted cheese. You will find french fries complementing its golden color in many restaurants. Some recipes include a fried egg on the top.

portuguese food
Peixinhos da horta

If you are a vegetarian, this one is for you. Peixinhos de horta literally means little fish in the garden, and surprisingly it doesn’t contain fish or any other seafood. Still, it is a favorite quick bite and one of the most traditional Portuguese food classics. It contains vegetables covered in bread crumbs and deep-fried until golden. It has been cooked in Portugal for centuries and Portuguese sailors even introduced it to Japan at one point in history. These fried vegetables are perfect snacks as you enjoy your ice-cold beer watching the Atlantic sunset.

portuguese food
Pasteis de nata

Last but not least, pasteis de nata is the crown jewel of food in Portugal. They are pint-size tarts with a custard of egg yolks, cream, and lemon zest, baked until they gain a slightly burnt golden-yellow crust. Even the looks of them is art, and one bite will be enough to delight you. Pay a visit to the historic pastries of Lisbon and try them with powdered sugar or cinnamon on the top.

Must-Try Portuguese Drinks

Port Wine

The iconic port wine of Porto is romantic, outspoken, and nostalgic all at once. It is the age-old fortified wine made with the grapes of the legendary Douro Valley. It has a sweet flavor that distinguishes it from the other fortified wines of Portugal. Enjoy a glass with a cheese board or some freshly baked pasteis de natas.

Peruvian food
Ginja

The slightly sour ginja is a cherry liqueur of Portugal that you won’t be able to leave behind. It comes in small shot glasses in cafes and bakeries. A piece of the ginja berry is placed at the bottom of the glass. In some places, you will find versions of it in glasses made of chocolate.

cherry liqueur

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