This post is all about one of the biggest pleasures in life itself: FOOD. The time has come to share our secrets with you about what’s on offer in Porto’s unique and exciting culinary sector. Ready to jot down all the key places to go on your visit to Porto? Want some recommendations on what to order once you get there? We got you! Anything you need. What’s that we can hear? Ah, yes, it’s the sound of our tummy’s beginning to rumble in anticipation!!
Not to brag or anything, but Porto and Lisbon are like heaven on Earth for those of you enthusiastic and high-maintenance foodies. Many of the world’s top chefs have chosen Porto as the destination for their latest creations: restaurants and specialty dishes that you simply cannot wait to try out!
Porto’s cuisine is a perfect balance between tradition and fresh new creativity. Portugal’s rooted and authentic cuisine has lately been merged with modern and innovative concepts, and it’s a real treat to enjoy. The city has been well-known for its adorably authentic and typical restaurants for forever, and in recent years, more and more creative and quirky venues with imaginative flavors and ideas have also become a popular choice. Whatever floats your boat, Porto’s local delicacies will knock your socks off.
The tourism industry in Portugal has taken the city’s food scene to the highest level. Portugal was crowned the most attractive country to visit for the second year in a row (according to the Worldwide Tourism Association, that is) thanks to all you wonderful travelers. For this reason, brand new restaurants of all kinds are constantly popping up in Porto, ready to delight our taste buds! (we’re drooling already…).
Ok, enough chit-chat. One last piece of good news though: eating out in Porto, in comparison to the rest of Europe, is ridiculously CHEAP!! So you don’t have to break the bank every time you feel like a nice meal. No more McDonald’s for you, friends, it’s time to go all out and enjoy the best dishes in the city! FUCK YEAH!
FIRST COURSE: A PLATE OF TRADITION
Let’s cut straight to the chase, we know y’all are hungry. For this first part, let’s go back to basics, start from the beginning etc. Our first look at Porto’s varied menu will go over the city’s traditional and sophisticated Portuguese ‘nortenha’ food. Here is a list of the best restaurants to really get a taste of the true Porto:
TABERNA DOS MERCADORES
Rua dos Mercadores, 36
We’ll start with this little jewel of a place. And when we say “little”, we really mean it. All of 16 people fit in this teeny tiny restaurant, so you can only imagine how cozy and homely it is. Every dish is made to perfection with incredible attention to detail, and put together with the freshest ingredients. Their Portuguese fish dishes are probably the most outstanding elements on their menu. The traditional codfish is a must, and also make sure you try the bass and the sea bream concoctions. Don’t miss out on the cod croquettes either. You can thank us later.
TABERNA SANTO ANTÓNIO
Rua das Virtudes, 32
This fun-sized joint has the best views in the whoooole city, as it is located on the Passeio das Virtudes. This is a family restaurant if ever there was one! It’s run by Senhora Hermínia and her husband Don Vítor. You’ll know you’ve made the right choice as soon as you walk in the door and smell the home-cooked food. The Taberna Santo António’s pataniscas (classic cod fritters) are the best in town, and the chocolate mousse dessert will leave your taste buds yearning for more. Just like Granma made it when you were young!! Once dinner is over and done with, order the typical shot of aguardiente as a goodbye, and off you go to enjoy the rest of your night!
Rua Monchique, 23
Now now now, Papavinhos is a Porto CLASSIC, known for its quality, authenticity, stellar service and affordable prices. It’s right on the Riviera, about 10 minutes or so walking distance from the city center, tucked away from the busy main streets. When you go for dinner, always let the Papavinhos waiters give you recommendations. We don’t know how they do it, but they are ALWAYS right. The grilled cod + king prawns + vinho verde and biscuits in cream for dessert is a winning combo.
FLOR DOS CONGREGADOS
Travessa dos Congregados, 11
An oldie but goldie. Flor dos Congregados has been up and running for an impressive 162 years, which makes it one of the oldest restaurants in the area. The specialty here is the Terylene, which is basically a glorified pork loin sandwich. BUT it’s not just your average sandwich, obviously. The meat is slow-cooked for over 24 hours in a stew marinated with local wine, onion, tomato and oregano, in a wood-fired oven. You can just imagine how easily the tasty meat melts in your mouth… Mmmmmmm!
REI DOS GALOS DE AMARANTE
Rua das Taipas, 121
Another standard traditional Portuguese restaurant for the win. You’ll no doubt be spoilt for choice with its extensive menu, offering all the different types of northern food! Leg of roasted lamb, dobradinha (Portuguese tripe), and – drum roll please-, the DELICIOUS cabidela rice dish. This diner knows how to treat its faithful customers all right… Regular clients get to have their names embroidered onto their serviettes! So you know what to do if you want your name on one 😉 !!
Rua da Estação 216
If you’re a fan of seafood and fish, make your way down to Casa Alexio, the best place in Porto to munch on octopus’ dishes. This delightful little place is next to the Campanha station, easily located. It was actually founded by a family from Galicia (Spain), but has now made its mark as a typical Portuguese restaurant. All the ingredients arrive at the restaurant fresh from the sea every day. What more could we ask for?
MAIN COURSE: NEW CUISINE
Now let’s move onto the flipside, a completely different culinary scene that Porto also excels in. Although we all know Porto prides itself on its traditional and authentic feel, things are Ch-Ch-Ch Changiiiiiiing (nice David Bowie reference there) around here! The city is currently being reinvented, and its gastronomy is taking the lead. Numerous cool, modern restaurants are becoming more and more common and popular in Porto. We recommend you check these out!
Rua das Flores, 179
This hip restaurant has become an absolute hit here in Porto. It’s a more affordable alternative for those young foodies, and it was created by ‘Euskalduna Studio’. “Semea” actually means son in Euskera, the language spoken in Spain’s Basque Country. This up-town restaurant is located on Rua des Flores and, as is a custom in Portugal, is on the smaller side. It only fits 25 people so remember to plan ahead and reserve so do you don’t miss out on dining here! Its dishes are its own version of your usual Portuguese food, but obviously with a little twist (or five). We would give you a recommendation for which dishes to choose but, they change them CONSTANTLY to keep things interesting and innovative. Surprise!
Rua de Fernandes Tomás, 819
Another promising new venue for Portuguese food. Almeja was created by two young entrepreneurs Sofia Gomes and y João Cura, who wanted to make the food industry a little more eco-friendly. They select only seasonal products, so this menu is also rotating (these hipsters, hey?). Their tasting menu costs €55 (well worth it), but if that’s a bit too steep, you can check out the lunch meal deal they do on weekdays. It will likely be the best-spent €15 of your entire Portugal trip. The restaurant’s name may ring a bell if you speak Spanish, but it actually has nothing to with “clams” (almeja in Spanish), it’s actually referring to the Portuguese word for “missing someone/something”, which is “anhelar”. Isn’t that cute?
Rua do Padrão 100 (Foz do Douro)
Modern and cosmopolitan food in one of the most exclusive areas of Porto: Foz. Caffeine is located in a mansion of the early twentieth century next to the beach with a unique facade of tiles that leads to two rooms that serve an innovate cuisine. One of its rooms emulates a library.
Rua da Madeira, 22
Another great option for thrill-seeking food enthusiasts, and it’s pretty cheap for the quality of the food!! Tapabento is located right next to the best hostel in the city (Cats, heard of it?), in the Batalha district. It’s a small and quirky little place, with a very very detailed menu and welcoming decoration. In Tapabento it’s essential to the staff that you feel at home, so put your feet up (metaphorically, guys), and enjoy! You might want to take a mental note here: Their frothy peanut cake is the DESSERT of all DESSERTS. O-M-G.
DESSERT: LA CRÈME DE LA CRÈME
Let’s finish off with the crown jewels of Porto dining. Warning: these next restaurants are for lovers of high-cuisine, and the subsequent HIGH prices! (€€€€!)
Rua de Santo Ildefonso, 404
We mentioned these guys earlier. They are the parent group that owns ‘Semea’. Euskalduna Studio has made quite the name for itself in northern Portugal with its groundbreaking style. The restaurant’s minimalistic and intimate deco gives it the important (and expensive) feel. Their tasting menu includes “ten dishes and a few extra surprises”. Luxury at its finest.
Rua do Padre Luis Cabral, 974
Hidden away in the beautiful Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto’s wine country), lies a stunning stone house from the 1960s, which has been renovated into one of the city’s top-ranked restaurants. Pedro Lemos is where it’s AT. It represents the perfect balance between the older traditional Portugal and the contemporary world. This place even has a Michelin star, friends. Quality or what??
Rua Sá da Bandeira, 8
This restaurant blends perfectly into its surroundings in the Hotel Teatro. Everything about this place is related to the scenic arts! If you’re looking for a romantic dinner for two, this is your spot for sure. Its spectacular decoration resembles an old theatre stage, which gives it the necessary hints of drama and passion. Its exquisite menu offers many dainty dishes, perfect for a date!