5 things to try when eating in Portugal

Portugal is a country filled with rich culture and history. It is a place where you can taste the past and the present. There are many things you should see and do when visiting Portugal, but one thing you should not miss out on is the food. The food in Portugal is unlike anything you will ever taste.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Portugal, you’re probably going to want to try the local food & wine, as it is an experience that will leave you starstruck. If you are passionate about food and trying new things, then this guide on things you should try when you’re in Portugal is just for you.



Food in Portugal


  1. Francesinha – This is a sandwich made with Portuguese ham (fiambre), sausage, steak and melted cheese on top that is served on a plate with a sauce made with beer. There are also some variations in where french fries are served inside the sandwich. It was invented in Porto, Portugal and is served in most cafes in Porto. The sauce, which takes beer and tomatoes as  a  base, is  the secret of each chef and makes the dish unique from place to place.  (By the way, did you know that Francesinha means little French woman?)
  2. Bacalhau – Bacalhau is the national dish of Portugal and Portuguese people eat around one million kilos of it every year. It is eaten on special occasions and at important annual meals – especially at Christmas. Bacalhau can be served as a main course or as a side dish to another meal. The best way to explore the Portuguese love of bacalhau: eat it! You’ll find at least one bacalhau dish on every restaurant menu in Portugal, often as one of the daily specials.




  1. Sardines – If you’re visiting a coastal area during the summer months, then it’s easy to think Portugal might be a little bit sardine mad. Typically, and traditionally, the grilled sardine is a deliciously simple meal. Sardines are served whole, skin on and with their insides intact. Using a knife and fork is optional: you’ll see people pick the sardines up by the head and tail and gnaw away in the middle. Similarly, you’ll see a sardine placed on a slice of bread and eaten with small nibbles.


  1. Pastéis de Nata – These are very sweet but delicious egg tarts (or custard tarts). They are similar to a cream puff, but not as sweet. They’re so good! You can find these in most bakeries in Portugal and they’re always very fresh.



  1. Caldo Verde – Caldo verde is a popular soup from Portugal, consumed by most Portuguese families at home, but it is also served in some upscale restaurants. It is usually made with a combination of potatoes, collard greens, olive oil, and a dash of salt. Traditionally, caldo verde is served with boiled and sliced “chouriço” sausage. The soup is a favourite during various celebrations, weddings, and similar festivities, when it’s usually served as a starter before the main meal, ideally accompanied by “broa”, a traditional Portuguese cornbread.

Portuguese drinks

Another thing you simply cannot miss while in Portugal is the wine and liquor. The Portuguese are avid drinkers and like to explore many different alcoholic beverages. Here are some of the best you can try while in Portugal.



  1. Beer – Beer is like a common language everywhere you go, and Portugal is no exception to this rule. There are several brands we can point out. Some are old and traditional while others, which were developed more recently, are even considered craft beer.


  1. Wine – Portugal has one of the most luxurious wine production industries in the world. The climatic conditions and the land quality are exquisite and perfect for the production of many top-quality grape varieties (either white or red). If you’re travelling to the Algarve, you need to visit Quinta dos Vales and try their amazing wine in a range that varies from 15 different grape varieties.



  1. Port Wine – This is one of the most famous Portuguese drinks ever. It is so well known and drunk all over the country and even abroad – especially in the UK since their citizens appreciate this type of wine so much. Port Wine is made from distilled grape spirit exclusively made in the Douro Valley (north of Portugal). It is mostly red wine, but very different from the traditional ones since Port Wine is sweet and often served as a dessert wine.


  1. Licor Beirão – For the ones who enjoy sweet alcoholic drinks, Licor Beirão is the right one for you. The recipe is an absolute secret that no one knows about and this sweet liqueur dates back to the 19th century. What we know, though, is that Licor Beirão is made from a double distillation of seeds and herbs. Its taste is very particular and different from everything you have ever tasted, believe us. It is much enjoyed in cocktails and the most famous is “Caipirão”, where you add ice and lime juice to enjoy a sweet fresh drink in the summer.


  1. Aguardente – This is one of the strongest Portuguese drinks out there (seriously, we mean it). A couple of the most popular brands are Macieira and Aveleda Adega Velha  which taste similar to cognac, but stronger (with between 35% to 56% alcohol by volume). Some people mix it with coffee at the end of a meal – this mix addition is also known as “cheirinho”. While in the Algarve, don’t miss out on the opportunity to try the very special Aguardente de Medronho.


When visiting Portugal, make sure to try a few – if not all – of these dishes and drinks and understand why Portuguese cuisine is considered one of the best in the world.


This article was originally published in: Portugal Resident

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *