Food to Try in Portugal

Portugal is a small country with some delicious food and amazing flavors. In every city, there was something to try that was inherently its own. Some of the most memorable dishes I’ve eaten were from Portugal; its cuisine and culture are seriously underrated!

 

Codfish

When I got to Portugal, I was told to eat codfish. I can see why. Codfish was on every menu in some form. If you aren’t super into fish, you should at least try a codfish cake. They’re non-threatening yet tasty, and you can find them everywhere.

I had cod from two different places: Tapabento in Porto and Grelha do Carmo in Lisbon.

Tapabento was a delicious experience. I didn’t make reservations and I had no idea it was so popular; I was with two friends and as we walked by, one of them saw her hostel bunkmate sitting outside at the restaurant and eating alone, and we opted to join him. I ordered the codfish to share, of which I really wish I could have taken a better photo. It was served with crunchy onions over a bed of vegetables and olive oil. Tapabento being a tapas restaurant meant a big portion with the intention of being shared, so it was 19 euro for enough to feed two people. I also got an apple tart dessert that was sinfully delicious. Definitely not something I wanted to share!

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Grelha do Carmo was more my vibe kind of restaurant. I asked a local that worked at my hostel for a lunch recommendation because I wanted some good cod and he wrote down the name and address. A hole-in-wall, I walked past it 3 times before I realized that it was even there. It’s very small; the entire restaurant sat maybe 15-20 people. I honestly don’t know what I ordered beyond that it was codfish, but it was one of the most memorable meals I had in my 90 days of backpacking. There was olive oil, sautéed onions, and parsley on top of the cod, with a side of potatoes smothered with the same things. I dream about those potatoes. The entire meal was exactly what I was looking for a perfect lunch in Lisbon and I spent maybe 12euro total.

Francesinha 

If you can, try a Francesinha in Porto, where it originated. Francesinha apparently means “little French lady.” You can read the history about it online, but the story I was told by a local walking tour guide was a little different than what everything online says. The sandwich is a Portugese spin on a Croque Monsieur; it’s a sandwich with sausage, steak, and ham, covered in melted cheese and topped with an egg in a spicy tomato beer sauce. According to my guide, the creator of the sandwich wanted to make a sandwich that was spicy enough to make women take off a layer of clothing and need something to drink; in substitution of water, he would give them beer. The restaurant that was “known” for it was Restaurante A Regaleira, but that restaurant is seemingly closed permanently. The sandwiches are made in most places all around the city, but the most popular I was told about was the Francesinha Café.

I didn’t get a chance to go there, but I definitely got my Francesinha fix.

 

Pastéis de Nata

A delicious Portuguese egg tart. THE place to get them is Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, but you’ll find them all over Portugal. They were originally created and sold by Catholic monks. I could have eaten a thousand of them, and I regret so much that I didn’t. There is almost always a line at Pastéis de Belém, but it’s so worth it. They give you little packets of powdered sugar and cinnamon to seal the deal.


Steak on a Stone
in Lisbon

I don’t know whether this is inherently Portuguese, but the concept is fun and different. You can get this steak on a stone from Cabaças in Lisbon. There will probably be a wait at this restaurant, but I found it to be worth it. I went with a large group of people from my hostel and it was tasty and cheap for what you get. They serve you a giant piece of steak on a piping hot stone and you can cook it however you want and with however much seasoning. It’s definitely an experience!


Port Wine

Port wine is more of a dessert wine than anything else; it’s very sweet and has a higher alcohol content than normal wine. Of course, the best place to get it is in Porto. There are different kinds, such as Ruby (Reserve or Rose) or Tawny, which is aged. It wasn’t my cup of tea or glass of wine, but it’s definitely something you have to try while you’re in Porto.

 

Are you ready to travel to Portugal, now?!

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