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Porto was our gateway into Portugal.
It was our introduction to Portuguese culture and served as our primer on Portuguese food. I knew the Portuguese ate a lot of seafood, especially bacalhau or salted cod, and were the inventors of those delicious eggy custard tarts known as pastel de nata.
We looked forward to enjoying both as often as we could along with other delicacies like francesinha, prego, and tripe stew. As always, I did a lot of research before our trip and asked our homestay host for local recommendations to come up with this list of fifteen of the best restaurants in Porto. Porto is a great city for food lovers.
Aside from eating at local restaurants, you may be interested in going on one of these food- and wine-related tours. We visited several restaurants and cafes that featured pasteis de nata, sandwiches, and family-style meals prominently on their menu. However, I read an article suggesting there was a lot more to Portuguese pastries than just pasteis de nata, so I made time to visit a fourth pasty shop, one that specialized in eclairs.
At the time, egg whites were used to starch clothing, leaving them with a surplus of egg yolks to be used in desserts. One of the pastries they developed was the pastel de nata. Golden yellow with these distinct brown-black splotches, these pasteis de nata were such a beautiful sight and something I was happy to wake up to everyday during our stay in Portugal. One tart is called a pastel de nata while two or more tarts are referred to as pasteis de nata. Fabrica da Nata is located along Rua de Santa Catarina.
They have two branches in Lisbon as well. Without me even telling her that Manteigaria was preferred by most locals, Ren declared their pasteis de nata to be her favorite in Portugal. We had pasteis de nata at nearly every famous place in Porto and Lisbon and the differences to me were barely noticeable.
In my limited experience, they were all delicious and something I would gladly have right now. Manteigaria has two branches in Porto and another two in Lisbon. The branch we went to along Rua de Alexandre Braga is close to Fabrica da Nata so you can easily visit both on the same day. Address: R. Nata Lisboa was the third pastel de nata shop we visited in two days. Nothing much to add here except their offerings are about as good as the two, closer in taste perhaps to Fabrica da Nata.
Unfortunately, I ate at the branch by the river and can understand the less than favorable reviews. I think more of it has to do with the uninspired service than the pastries themselves. My pasteis de nata were served cold and had clearly been sitting for a while.
Forget this branch. I read that the Portuguese are proud of their pastries, so much so that it upsets them when tourists zero in only on the famed pastel de nata and ignore everything else. Leitaria da Quinta do Paco is a former milk producer now known for offering many types of eclair. Their classic eclair topped with dark chocolate is the most popular, but they do have plenty of other flavors like toffee, lemon, banoffee, salted caramel, and passion fruit. However, the eclairs here are filled with a type of house-made artisanal whipped cream.
Many people seem to like it though.
It seems to be popular with both locals and tourists alike. Sandwiches seem to be a big part of Portuguese comfort food. Which is fine by me because like many people, I love a good sandwich. Listed below are some of the most recommended sandwich shops and restaurants in Porto. This little sandwich shop was the first place we visited in Porto.
You can think of it as a type of Portuguese hot dog. Gazela has been making cachorrinhos for over fifty years and sell about hundred of these sandwiches every day. The bread is buttery and crunchy but still soft in the middle.5 Awesome Places You Have To Visit When In PORTO, Portugal!
The spicy sauce is more flavorful than hot and the sausage is juicy with snap. What really makes this sandwich special for me though is definitely the bread. We loved it. Gazela Cachorrinhos da Batalha is a tiny place with just counter seating so be prepared to stand, even outside.
This was our one and only experience with cachorrinhos but I would have loved to try more. This TimeOut article lists several more shops in the city, all of which look amazing. Address: Tv. Next to it is their sande de paio de porco preto alentejano, or cured black pork sandwich. Both were made with a generous serving of pork stuffed between warm, lightly toasted bread.
The bread of the sande de pernil was nicely soaked through with the juices of the roasted pork. We made the mistake of ordering the sande de pernil plain. The roasted pork was tasty on its own but it needed something to make it more exciting. Many people seemed to be ordering it so we tried it as well. Of all the Porto restaurants we visited, Casa Guedes was by far the most popular so expect a line. We waited maybe half an hour to get to the counter and order our sandwiches.
Luckily, we were able to find a table right away but you may have to stand depending on how busy they are. I tried several different sandwiches in Porto, but my clear-cut favorite was the prego.
I absolutely loved this sandwich which oddly enough, is enjoyed as much as a snack as it is for dessert. Lareira offers two types of prego, one served with vinaigrette and another with a fried egg. I had the former and it was perfect, made with juicy, thinly-sliced beef and slices of ham and cheese in a nice crusty roll. Check out how juicy and delicious that beef looks! Prego sandwiches are perhaps the one thing I miss most about Portugal. I read that the key ingredient in prego is garlic. The prego I ordered came with a side of vinagrete, or what I know of as relish or salsa.
It added texture and zing to the sandwich, though I thought the prego was already perfect on its own. So good. I often came across Lareira when searching for the best restaurants in Porto to have prego. Pregar was the second prego shop I visited in Porto, and as you can see, their sandwich looks noticeably different from the prego at Lareira. The slice of beef is considerably thicker hence the higher price and the bread is denser and more crumbly. Seriously, how good does all that beefy redness look? The steak was thick and juicy and oh so tender. Pregar offers different variations of their prego sandwiches but I got the one made with mustard.
I read that most places will have mustard bottles on the table so you can add it yourself, but Pregar offers a version with what I p to be their own housemade mustard. I loved it. Like Lareira, Pregar often came up in my search for the best Porto restaurants for prego. If there were one dish to carry the culinary flag for Porto, then it would probably be the francesinha. It was inspired by the French croque-monsieur and adapted to Portuguese tastes. It quickly became very popular and has since become deeply associated with the city of Porto.
This was my one and only experience with the sandwich so I have no basis for comparison, but I read that the secret to a good francesinha is in the sauce. Lado B was often cited in articles listing the best Porto restaurants for francesinha.
The sauce was rich and tomato-ey and the sandwich a beautiful layered mess of soaked bread, rump steak, two types of sausage, mortadella, ham, and gooey cheese. It was delicious but also very filling, so be sure to go hungry or share a sandwich between two people.Looking for a local in Porto
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Where to Eat Like a Local in Porto