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33 Portuguese Food Favorites That You Will Love

Our love for the food of Portugal was key in our decision to move to Lisbon in 2019. Read on to discover 33 must-try Portuguese food favorites to try during your visit so that you can fall in love too.

Spoonful of Tripas a Moda do Porto at O Rapido in Porto

We fell for Portuguese food when we ate our first Pastel de Nata during our 2007 honeymoon in the Iberian country. When we moved to Portugal in 2019, that love grew and expanded to include dishes, both savory and sweet.

We never forgot our favorite Portuguese foods though it took us 12 years to make Portugal our home. We got a little thrill when we encountered Pasteis de Natas in cities like Macau and London. We got even bigger thrills when we enjoyed them after munching on Frango Assado (charcoal grilled Portuguese chicken) in cities like Cape Town and Montreal.

These food encounters motivated us to return to the land of Fado (soulful traditional music) and azulejos (Portuguese tiles). At the end of the day, there’s nothing like eating Portuguese food at the source.

Discover our favorite food cities in Portugal.

What Is Portuguese Food?

Dinner at DeCastro Gaia in Porto
The best Portuguese food features local ingredients and exotic spices. This spread at Porto’s DeCastro Gaia showcases both.

It’s not uncommon for people to confuse Portuguese food with Spanish food before they visit Portugal for the first time. The two countries are neighbors with a shared border and intertwined histories. They were actually the same country at one point. However, it doesn’t take long for travelers to realize that the food of Portugal is emphatically unique.

Food in Portugal is a reflection of both the country’s geographic location and its history of world exploration. Portugal was a trading powerhouse for hundreds of years, pioneering world exploration to create an empire built on the pepper trade.

Portuguese chefs and home cooks honor both geography and history every time they prepare food with locally sourced products and exotic spices. As a result, Portuguese food traditions are long and deep.

Local Products

Vegetables at Lisbon Market
The variety of produce in a typical Portuguese market is both colorful and plentiful.

Portugal’s sprawling Atlantic coast provides a seemingly endless supply of fruits de mer like octopus, squid and shrimp.

The country’s agricultural abundance is equally impressive. Portuguese farmers grow a variety of produce including grapes for wine, grains for bread and olives for oil. Beyond the basics, local market swell with sweet, crunchy Portuguese apples from North of Lisbon in Alcobaça and citrus grown everywhere in the Algarve.

Like other countries in Southern Europe, Portugal produces some of the best cured meats and cheeses in the world. The Portuguese create amazing charcuterie and pork products from Acorn-fed black pigs and also use Portuguese cow, goat and sheep’s milks to produce high-quality cheeses.

Portuguese products like Presunto, Chouriço Porco Preto, Azeitáo and Serra da Estrela compare favorably with meats and cheese from countries like France, Italy and Spain.

International Influence

Brazilian Sandwich at Acaraje da Carol in Lisbon
Brazilian food favorites like this Açaraje are available at Lisbon restaurants and tascas.

Portugal was a major player during the Age of Discovery, and the country continues to reap benefits from intrepid explorers from that time period. Not only did they ‘discover’ parts of Africa, South America and Asia, they also brought back spices and produce from destinations like Brazil, Macau, Mozambique and Goa. While common today, those items were unheard of before the Columbian Exchange in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Centuries later, Portuguese cuisine remains influenced by those global ingredients. Piri-Piri sauce, a condiment on every Portuguese table, is made with African chili peppers while many Portuguese menus feature Brazilian stews like Feijoada and drinks like the Caipirinha.

Top 33 Portuguese Food Favorites

Gambas ao Alho at O Gaveto in Porto
We never tire of the quantity and quality of Portuguese seafood. This generous serving of Gambas com Alho we ate at O Gaveto in Matosinhos provides a prime example of the country’s seafood bounty.

Although eating is one of the best things to do in Portugal, a traveler could hypothetically visit the country and miss all of the best Portuguese dishes.

We’ve made it a personal mission to eat our way around the country from Algarvian beaches in the south to Porto’s hills in the north now that we live in Portugal. We’ve also chowed down in oceanside Cascais, romantic Sintra, arid Évora and our home city of Lisbon.

Based on our on-the-ground research, we’ve narrowed our favorite Portuguese food and drink choices to 33. For usability, we’ve broken these choices into the following four categories:

Fun Fact
The following seven dishes were voted to be the Seven Wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy: Alheira Mirandela, Arroz de Marisco, Caldo Verde, Leitão da Bairrada, Queijo da Serra da Estrela, Pastéis de Belém and Sardinho Assada,

Traditional Portuguese Dishes

Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa at O Rapido in Porto
Bacalhau is a touchstone of Portuguese cuisine. We ate this regional version known as Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa at O Rapido in Porto. The dish’s ingredients include cod, eggs, olives and potatoes.

Curious food travelers can experience a range of traditional Portuguese dishes at tascas (taverns) as well as at neighborhood restaurants and snack bars. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that traditional Portuguese food is both easy to find and easy on the wallet.

We recommend that you start your Portugal food exploration with the following traditional dishes:

1. Bacalhau

Bacalhau a Bras Cod Fish Dish in Portugal
Bacalhau à Brás is available throughout Portugal. We ate this tasty version at Fabrica Imperial in Lisbon.

Bacalhau (salt cod) has been an integral part of the Portuguese diet for centuries and for good reason. Salting cod not only adds flavor but also removes the need for refrigeration. This preservation process was so impactful prior to refrigeration that cod has been called the fish that saved the world.

Despite the prevalence of refrigeration in modern times, bacalhau has not lost its popularity in Portuguese cuisine. The number of Portuguese dishes featuring salted cod is staggering, but none is more typical than Bacalhau à Brás.

Invented in Lisbon and especially popular on Fridays during Lent, Bacalhau à Brás is a mishmash of shredded salt cod, fried potatoes, eggs, onions and olives. The comforting dish is available at most tascas and casual eateries throughout Portugal. Ironically, most versions of the dish are topped with canned black olives – something we’re still attempting to understand in a country filled with olive orchards.

Fun Fact
Despite the plethora of fresh seafood available in Portugal, the country imports bacalhau from countries like Iceland and Norway. In fact, go anywhere in seafood-rich Southern Europe and you’re sure to find salt cod on the menu.

2. Pastéis de Bacalhau

Bolinhos de Bacalhau at O Rapido in Porto
We auspiciously started our lunch at O Rapido in Porto with this Bolinho de Bacalhau duo.

More than a snack and less than a meal, Pastéis de Bacalhau are fried cakes made with cod and potatoes instead of sugar and flour. In then north, these same cod fritters are called Bolinho de Bacalhau.

Regardless of the name, a Pastel de Bacalhau is a delight to eat hot out of the fryer. One bite into the crispy fritter reveals a creamy mixture made with bacalhau and potatoes and well as eggs and parsley. Three bites later, it will be nothing more than a happy memory.

One Pastel de Bacalhau is rarely enough and three are too many. In other words, plan to start your meal with two Pastéis de Bacalhau.

3. Sardinhas Assadas

Sardinhas - Grilled Sardines in Portugal
Summer time is sardine time in Portugal!

Cod isn’t the only popular finned fish in Portugal. Sardines take center stage on outdoor grills in warm summer months and hit the plate as a dish called Sardinhas Assadas.

The opposite of fancy, Sardinhas Assadas are grilled sardines seasoned with two Portuguese kitchen staples – salt and olive oil. Locals eat the entire sardine including the head, often with fried potatoes and rice, leaving boney carcasses as evidence of their debauchery.

Pro Tip
Don’t miss the Feast of St. Anthony if your summertime visit coincides with the annual June festival that celebrates sardines.

4. Conserveiras

Conserveiras Fish Tins in Portugal
Why buy boring cans of fish when you can buy stylish cans at the Time Out Market instead?

Conserveiras (canned tins of fish) offer a popular alternative to freshly grilled fish in Portugal. Far from a flash in the pan (or should we say can?), canning fish has been a ‘thing’ in Portugal since 1853 when Ramirez opened the country’s first commercial cannery in Vila Real de Santo Antonio. Ramirez is now the longest operating cannery in all of Europe.

Modern-day Portuguese canneries preserve a variety of freshly-caught seafood with olive oil and tomato sauce. Considered to be both a healthy everyday food a delicacy, the final product is readily available at grocery stores, tourist shops and upscale restaurants.

Popular conserveiras include decoratively designed cans of atum (tuna), sardinhas (sardines), cavala (mackerel) and and anchovos (anchovies). More exotic selections include lulas (squid), polvo (octopus) and mexilhões (mussels).

Pro Tip
Buy conserveiras as edible souvenirs. You can buy cans decorated with art deco designs at shops like Can the Can, Comur, A Conserveira de Lisboa and A Vida Portuguesa at Lisbon’s Time Out Market.

5. Arroz de Pato

Arroz da Pato at Taverna dos Trovadores in Sintra
Arroz de Pato has been a local Portuguese food favorite for 1,000 years give or take.

Rice is a key ingredient in numerous Portuguese dishes, both savory and sweet, but none is more iconic than Arroz de Pato (duck rice). Locals have eat the traditional 10-century-old Braga dish both at home for special occasions and at neighborhood restaurants for hearty lunches.

Many countries serve versions of duck rice but add a their own twists. Made with duck and rice, Portugal’s version is no exception…

Portuguese chefs add slices of smokey chouriço before baking baking Arroz de Pato in the oven. They then top it with fresh orange slices. The result is deeply flavorful and downright delicious.

→ Follow our Arroz de Pato recipe and cook the Portuguese rice dish at home.

6. Cataplana de Marisco

Cataplana de Marisco at Ponto Final in Portugal
We shared this Cataplana de Marisco at Ponto Final in Almada. The restaurant cooked the dish in a metal cataplana before serving it to us in a clay bowl.

The word cataplana has two meanings in Portuguese. Used to describe clam-shaped copper frying pans, the word also describes dishes prepared in the metal vessel.

Originally created in the Algarve, Cataplana de Marisco is the most decadent cataplana and the one to order. This dish combines local ingredients like onions, tomatoes, peppers, olive oil and white wine and adds a melange of seafood including mussels, shrimp and clams.

Pro Tip
Some chefs add arroz and chouriço to Cataplana de Marisco, elevating the seafood stew to a seafood feast. Don’t turn down this option if you see it on a Portuguese menu.

7. Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde with Spoon at Cervejaria Brasao Coliseu in Porto
We slurped this bowl of Caldo Verde at Cervejaria Brasao Coliseu in Porto. It was a spoon-worthy starter that primed us for the restaurant’s epic Francesinha sandwich.

Caldo Verde translates to green broth but don’t let the literal translation turn you off. Originally from the north but popular throughout the country, Caldo Verde is a comforting, poor man’s soup typically made with potatoes, kale and olive oil.

→ Discover more of the best soups in the world.

Most bowls of Caldo Verde have a slice or two of chouriço added for a hint of smokey flavor and a bit of protein. While we covet these slices whenever we slurp the soup at home or in Portuguese restaurants, vegetarians and vegans can skip adding the meaty morsels to their bowls.

Pro Tip
Some restaurants only serve Caldo Verde on specific days of the week. Plan ahead to avoid disappointment.

8. Polvo à Lagareiro

Octopus at Bar do Fundo in Sintra
We ate this Polvo à Lagareiro at Bar do Fundo, a seaside restaurant in Sintra.

Octopus fans won’t want to miss eating Polvo à Lagareiro in Portugal. As implied by the dish’s name, Polvo à Lagareiro‘s two main ingredients are octopus and olive oil. (Polvo translates to octopus and lagareiro refers to an olive oil producer.)

Nothing short of a show stopper, a plate topped with Polvo à Lagareiro typically displays the tentacled cephalopod atop a bed of roasted potatoes. Beyond octopus and olive oil, other ingredients include onion, garlic, bay leaves and salt.

Pro Tip
Indulge in Polvo à Lagareiro on Christmas Eve if you happen to be in Portugal for Natal.

9. Gambas a l’Ajilo

Garlic Shrimp at Ramiro at Lisbon Restaurants
We’ve eaten Gambas a l’Ajilo all over Portugal. This version at Lisbon’s Ramiro is our favorite so far.

Gambas a l’Ajilo (garlic prawns) is one of our favorite dishes to eat in Portugal. The quality of the dish’s two main ingredients – garlic and prawns – are second to none in Portugal. The same can also be said for additional ingredients like olive oil and spicy peppers.

Although shrimp is available at most Portuguese markets, we’ve always eaten Gambas a l’Ajilo at marisqueiras (seafood restaurants). We plan on sautéing a batch at home soon.

Update: We were successful with our goal to make garlic prawns at home. The recipe is surprisingly easy and the result is divine.

Pro Tip
Make sure you have some pão (bread) to sop up the garlic sauce after you eat all the shrimp.

10. Cozido à Portuguesa

Cozido Meat Stew in Portugal
We ate this mammoth serving of Cozido à Portuguesa at a local Lisbon tasca. It fulfilled our protein quotient for the entire week.

Cozido à Portuguesa is a great dish to eat after working in the fields all day. At least that’s how the iconic Portuguese dish was originally eaten. Today, people order the meaty meal at restaurants and tascas.

Not for dainty diners, Cozido à Portuguesa has all types of low and slow cooked meat including ears, ribs, morcella (Portuguese blood sausage). chouriço and pork belly. The offaly melange is typically served with cabbage, rice and potatoes.

Fun Fact
Belcanto, the acclaimed Michelin-starred Chiado restaurant, offers a gastronomic version of Cozido à Portuguesa.

11.Frango Assado a/k/a/ Piri Piri Chicken

Frango on Grill in Cascais Portugal
Frango joints grill chicken all over of Portugal. Jardim dos Frangos, pictured here, is our favorite spot to eat Piri Piri Chicken in Cascais.

Just about every Portuguese neighborhood has a joint that sells Frango Assado to crowds who queue for grilled chicken every day of the week. However, when they order, they just say ‘Frango Piri Piri’ or ‘Piri Piri Chicken’.

The best Portuguese grill masters marinate butterflied chickens and then grill them at high heat. Upon request, they add additional marinade flavored with ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice and spicy piri piri oil.

Though not indigenous to Portugal, piri piri pepper is the magic ingredient that makes Frango Assado pop. Portuguese explorers brought the hot pepper back from southern Africa centuries ago and the rest is culinary history.

Fun Fact
The global restaurant chain Nando’s serves Piri Piri Chicken in more than 20 countries. Ironically, Portugal is not one of these countries.

12. Açorda

Acorda at Taberna Dos Mercadores in Porto
We ate this colorful Aćcorda de Marisco at Taberna dos Marcadores in Porto.

Some of the best foods in the world are rooted in poverty. Made with day-old bread and pantry staples, Portugal’s Açorda is one of these dishes.

In its simplest form and the way it was originally prepared in Alentejo, Açorda is a soup made with slightly stale bread, olive oil, garlic, vinegar, eggs and herbs. Some Portuguese chefs take the dish further by adding seafood to create a dish called Açorda de Marisco. The elevated seafood version is particularly popular in Portugal’s coastal areas.

Fun Fact
The word açorda serves a dual purpose. It literally translates to wake up.

13. Queijo

Queijo Cheese in Portugal
We used a spoon to get every bit of this wheel of Quiejo de Azeitão in Lisbon.

Though not as famous for its queijo (cheese) compared to other European countries, Portugal produces an enormous amount of cheese products. More than a dozen have achieved Designation of Origin (PDO) status.

Many Portuguese cheeses are small, cylindrical torta cheeses served with a spoon. Removing the top of the queijo reveals a spreadable silky, aromatic paste. Expect a unique tangy bite since coagulation of milk is traditionally achieved using thistle rennet.

A spreadable sheep cheese called Serra da Estrella, produced in a mountainous region northeast of Coimbra, is the country’s most lauded cheese. We’re partial to Queijo de Azeitão, an equally spreadable sheep milk cheese that’s produced in the Setubal district near Lisbon.

Pro Tip
There’s only one way to find out which Portuguese cheese is YOUR favorite. We recommend conducting research along with copious amounts of Portuguese wine.

14. Chouriço Assado

Chorico in Portugal
Eating Chouiço Assado (grilled sausage) in Lisbon has its risks. Don’t worry – we didn’t burn our tongues when we ate the one pictured here.

More than just an ingredient in dishes like Arroz de Pato and Caldo Verde (see both above), chouriço is one Portugal’s finest food products. A close cousin to Spanish chorizo, Portugal’s version is a little smokier and a little more rustic with large specks of fat.

Markets sell packs of chouriço to eat at home but the best way to eat the local meat is by ordering Chouriço Assado at a bar. This dish typically arrives in a clay dish with the chouriço literally on fire.

Pro Tip
Please multiple senses by ordering Chouriço Assado at a Fado bar. Your mouth and ears will both be happy.

15. Porco Preto

Porco Preto at Eleectrico do Chile in Lisbon Portugal
We ate this Secretos de Porco Preto at one of our favorite Lisbon tascas. As is typical in Portugal, the dish included fried potatoes, rice and salad. Also typical, the price was €7 for the entire meal.

Porco Preto (black pigs) live a good life in Alentejo. When they’re not munching on bolotas (acorns), they’re roaming free in Portugal’s gorgeous countryside. As a result of this lifestyle, Porco Preto meat, fatty and with a slightly nutty flavor, is considered to be among the best pork in the world.

Butchers, markets and grocery stores sell Chouriço Porco Preto. The charcuterie pairs especially well with Portuguese cheese and wine from Alentejo.

Restaurants serve cooked versions like Secretos – a particularly tasty cut ‘hidden’ under the pork belly of these precious black pigs. When we see this juicy, flavorful dish on a Portuguese menu, we almost always order it. It’s that good.

Fun Fact
Spain’s Porco Iberico is famous around the world, far more famous than Portugal’s Porco Preto. Ironically, many of Spain’s black pigs pigs are raised in Alentejo and eat the same acorns as Portugal’s black pigs.

16. Alheira

Alheira in Portugal
Although it looks like sausage, this Alheira was sausage-free. We ate it at a local Lisbon tasca.

People who don’t eat pork are in for a treat in Portugal and that treat is called Alheira – a Portuguese ‘farce’ with a juicy story…

Portuguese Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition to avoid persecution. They ate Alheira during that dark time to demonstrate their conversion to the Christian faith. However, while it looked like sausage, Alheira was actually stuffed with beef, poultry or game meat and was therefore kosher.

Centuries later, Alheira, with a texture reminiscent of Eastern European Kishka, is now more prevalent in Portugal than the few Jewish people who remained in the country after the Inquisition. Tascas and other casual restaurants typically top Alheira with a fried egg and serve the dish with rice and potatoes.

Pro Tip
Don’t hesitate to order Alheira if you follow a kosher diet. However, this Portuguese food favorite is not typically vegetarian or vegan.

17. Choco Frito

Choco Frito in Setubal Portugal
We took a break from exploring Setubal to eat this plate of Choco Frito with a bottle of crisp white wine.

Choco Frito is a hyper local Portuguese food favorite that’s specific to one city – Setubal. A stroll through the charming seaside town reveals a slew of local restaurants that offer Choco Frito as the featured dish on their menus.

But what is it? Despite a name that seems to involve fried chocolate, Choco Frito translates to fried cuttlefish and that’s exactly what this dish is.

Setubal cooks bread and fry thick, finger-size chunks of giant cuttlefish that’s unique to the region and plate them with fried potatoes. The dish is fun to eat and pairs well with Portuguese white wine.

Pro Tip
Squeeze some fresh lemon on your Choco Frito to brighten the dish’s flavor.

18. Caracóis

Caracois Small Snails in Portugal
Summertime is the right time to eat caracóis in Portugal. These tiny snails are as tasty as they are popular.

From May until September, Portuguese friends meet to eat heaping plates of caracóis (snails) with cerveja (beer) and pão (bread). Yes, the sardine isn’t the only summertime star in Portugal.

Portuguese tascas typically serve the tiny mollusks in a flavorful broth along with equally tiny toothpicks. Part of the fun is hunting for the meat in each snail. The other fun part is mopping up the sauce with bread and washing it all down with beer.

Pro Tip
Order caracoletas if you prefer eating larger snails similar in size to French escargots.

19. Peixinhos da Horta

Peixinhos da Horta at DeCastro Gaia in Porto
We ate these Peixinhos da Horta at DeCastro Gaia in Porto. This traditional Portuguese dish provided the inspiration for Japanese tempura.

Food travelers will be fascinated by Portugal’s tasty Peixinhos da Horta. These breaded and fried green beans don’t just look like tempura. They’re actually the inspiration for the Japanese food favorite!

History reveals that the Portuguese have been frying breaded green beans for centuries. Portuguese missionaries introduced the dish to Japan in the 16th century.

Despite a name that literally translates to little fish from the garden, Peixinhos da Horta is a vegetarian dish. The fish connotation refers to the dish’s shape and not its ingredients.

Pro Tip
You don’t need to avoid Peixinhos da Horta if you’re not a green bean fan. Portuguese chefs occasionally use other garden vegetables to make this dish.

20. Tripas à Moda do Porto

Tripas a Moda do Porto at O Rapido in Porto
We ate this substantial serving of Tripas à Moda do Porto at O Rapido in Porto.

Considered to be one of Portugal’s seven gastronomic wonders, Tripas à Moda do Porto isn’t for everybody due to its main ingredient.

But adventurous eaters won’t want to miss this tripe dish when they visit Porto, the city where it was invented during the Middle Ages. This dish was so important in Porto back in the day that residents of the northern city are called Tripeiros.

The Tripas à Moda do Porto recipe has evolved over the centuries. In addition to beans discovered by Portuguese explorers, typical ingredients include veal, pork, chicken, carrots, bay leaves, onion and garlic.

Pro Tip
Most tascas prepare and serve Tripas à Moda do Porto on specific days of the week. Plan ahead to avoid disappointment

Portuguese Sandwiches

Pernil com Queijo de Ovelha Sandwiches at Casa Guedes in Porto
Why eat one sandwich in Portugal when you can eat two?

The Portuguese have a thing for sandwiches and so do we. There’s nothing better than food on the go especially if it’s tasty and cheap. Not only do Portuguese sandwiches taste great, they’re also some of the country’s best cheap eats.

→ Read about the 35 best sandwiches in the world.

After eating sandwiches around the world, these are our four favorite Portuguese sandwiches and the ones you need to try:

21. Francesinha

Francesinha at Cafe Santiago in Porto
This Francesinha at Cafe Santiago in Porto was big enough for us to share.

The Francesinha isn’t just one of Portugal’s best sandwiches and one of the most iconic foods from Porto. The unusual sandwich is big enough to be a meal. And that’s not counting french fries.

Invented in Porto and allegedly inspired by France’s Croque Monsieur, a Francesinha is a monster of a sandwich with with meaty ingredients like steak, ham, chourićo and sausage. But here’s where the sandwich gets its uniqueness – the whole thing gets covered with melted cheese, smothered with tangy tomato sauce and topped with a fried egg.

If you’re looking for the perfect food after a day of wine tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia. This is it.

Pro Tip
Don’t even try to eat a Francesinha with your hands. You’ll want to eat this bad boy with a knife and fork.

22. Bifana

Bifana at Parreirinha do Chile in Lisbon
We ate this Bifana at our favorite sandwich joint in Lisbon – Parreirinha do Chile.

When Portuguese people grab a quick lunch on the go, it’s likely that lunch will involve a Bifana. This sandwich is that prevalent throughout the country.

Both simple and satisfying, a Bifana is essentially sautéed pork slices stuffed inside a roll. The best Bifana stands cook the pork low and slow, making the addition of mustard or piri-piri sauce less of a necessity and more of a complement.

Pro Tip
Order an Imperial to go with your Bifana. A small glass of refreshing Portuguese ‘swill’ beer like Sagres or Super Bock will pair perfectly with your sandwich.

23. Prego

Prego Sandwich at Ramiro at Lisbon Restaurants
We added mustard to this Prego at Ramiro, Lisbon’s most iconic seafood restaurant.

Sandwich fans who don’t eat pork have a great option – a Prego made with steak instead of pork. But not just plain steak. Cooks sauté steak with ingredients like garlic, onions and wine before stuffing it inside a roll.

Portuguese typically eat two types of Prego sandwiches. The first, Prego no Pão, is all about the meat. Those looking for a more decadent sandwich specify com ovo if they want a fried egg added as well.

Pro Tip
Order a Prego to end your seafood meal at Ramiro in Lisbon. Don’t ask questions. Just do it.

24. Pernil com Queijo

Pernil com Queijo de Ovelha 2 at Casa Guedes in Porto
After we ate this Pernil com Queijo sandwich at Casa Guedes in Porto, we returned a couple days later and did it again.

The Pernil com Queijo sandwich wasn’t on our radar until we visited Porto. After one bite, we wondered where the sandwich had been all our lives.

Pernil com Queijo translates to ham with cheese but this sandwich is so much more than its simple name implies. Cooks stuff crispy rolls with slow-cooked pork leg and ooey-gooey Serra da Estrela cheese to make Pernil com Queijo sandwiches. The combination tastes like a dream.

Pro Tip
If you’re debating between getting a Pernil instead of a Pernil com Queijo, go for the latter. The cheese elevates this great sandwich to legendary status.

Portuguese Pastries and Dessert

Two Eclairs on Sidewalk at Leitaria da Quinta do Paco in Porto
Two Éclairs are better than one at Leitaria da Quinta in cities like Braga, Lisbon and Porto.

Bakers in Portugal show little restraint when it comes to adding sugar and egg yolk to their recipes. As a result, Portuguese pastries are sweeter than pastries in Paris and other European cities. The same applies to Portuguese desserts.

Portuguese people are okay with this situation. They often start their days with pastries and end them with dessert. And that doesn’t contemplate occasional midday indulgences!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the many pastries and deserts in Portugal, we recommend starting with these iconic Portuguese sweet treats:

25. Pastel de Nata

Pasteis de Nata at Natas Douro in Porto
We found these tasty custard tarts at Natas Douro in Porto.

The Pastel de Nata has been Portugal’s signature pastry since Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém opened in 1837. Located on the outskirts of Lisbon, the famous pasteleria uses a secret recipe created by monks at the nearby Mosteiro dos Jerónimos during the 18th century.

Those clever monks used egg yolks leftover after using the whites to starch habits and other religious garments. They also used plenty of sugar and cream. The result is a tasty egg tart that pairs well with coffee.

Although you can only eat the original version in Belém, you’ll never be far from a Pastel de Nata in Portugal. Almost every single pasteleria sells Pastéis de Nata and they pretty much always taste great.

→ Read our Lisbon Pastel de Nata guide.

26. Travesseiros

Travesseiros at Garagem Cafe in Sintra
Pillow-like pastries called Travesseiros are not to be missed when visiting Sintra.

Most Portuguese cities have one signature pastry. Despite its relatively small size, Sintra actually has two. The Queijada de Sintra is great but the Travesseiro is the Sintra pastry not to miss.

Lines form daily to buy Travessieros at Piriquita every day. Open since 1861, the Sintra bakery invented the pillow-like pastry in the 1940s using typical Portuguese ingredients – egg yolk and sugar. The addition of almonds and puff pastry make this pastry special.

→ Get tips on what and where to eat during a Sintra day trip.

27. Ovos Moles

Bitten Ovos Moles in Lisbon
Portugal’s Ovos Mole is a prime example of the country’s infatuation with egg yolks and sugar. We ate this sweet, eggy treat in Évora.

Ovos Mole translates to soft eggs, an apt name for the convent pastry popularized by nuns in Aveiro more than a century ago. Not surprisingly, the Ovos Mole recipe has a healthy amount of both egg yolks and sugar.

Aveiro’s over-achieving nuns went an extra step by surrounding their sweet, eggy concoction with communion wafers. Their Ovos Mole is so unique that it received protected status from the European Union.

Pro Tip
One Ovos Mole is more than enough. You’ll risk a sugar high if you eat two or more.

28. Arroz Doce

Arroz Doce with Spoon on Plate in Lisbon
Arroz Doce is a typical dessert at Portuguese tascas. We ate this sweet rice dessert at O Eléctrico do Chile in Lisbon.

Despite the vast number of Portuguese pastries, the Iberian country also has a number of desserts in its sweet arsenal. Arroz Doce is a favorite of many including us.

As its name suggests, Arroz Doce is a sweet rice pudding similar to desserts eaten in coutries like Spain, India and Greece. Typical ingredients include short-grain rice, milk and lemon peel in addition to egg yolks and sugar.

→ Discover our picks for the best desserts and pastries in Portugal.

Portuguese Drinks

Wine at O Gaveto in Porto
Wine and colorful azulejos (tiles) are two of our favorite things in Portugal.

Eating your way around Portugal will inevitably create a thirst that can’t be denied. Let’s face it – the best Portuguese dishes aren’t exactly salt-free.

If you you’re wondering what to drink in Portugal, the answer is whatever you want. While the country is famous around the world for its fortified wine, Port is just one popular thing to drink in Portugal.

We recommend starting with the following Portuguese drinks

29. Beer

Super Bock Beers at Time Out Market Lisbon
We drank these two Imperials at the Time Out Market in Lisbon.

When you’re thirsty for beer in Portugal, you won’t have to look hard to find Cerveja on a Portuguese menu. The hoppy beverage is sold everywhere in the country from the most humble tascas to the finest dining establishments.

This popularity is nothing new. The Portuguese people have been drinking beer for centuries. The country’s two biggest breweries, Sagres and Super Bock, produce lagers that are easy to drink without breaking the bank. Try them both to find your favorite.

Good news for Craft Beer aficianados! Great craft beer producers have emerged in both Lisbon, Porto and throughout Portugal. Look for great options from breweries like MUSA and AMO in Lisbon as well as Sovina in Porto.

Pro Tip
Explore Portugal’s burgeoning craft beer scene by taking a self-guided beer crawl in Lisbon’s trendy Marvila neighborhood.

30. Wine

Wine in Portugal
We drank these glasses of red wine at Alentejo winery Cartuxa. Both the view and the wine were divine.

Flying under the vitaculture radar, Portugal produces wine that’s a pleasure to drink every day of the week. Portuguese winemakers export a good bit, but, as is the case in most countries, they keep the best bottles within their borders.

While Vinho Verde may be the country’s most famous wine varietal, red and white wines produced in regions like Alentejo, Dão and the Douro compare favorably to wine produced around the world. And the best part, wine in Portugal is one of the country’s greatest bargains.

Pro Tip
Order a glass, carafe or bottle of wine when you dine at a Portuguese restaurant.

31. Port Wine

Port at Tapabento in Porto
We sipped these shots of Port at the end of our meal at Tapabento in Porto. The restaurant is just across the river from the country’s most famous Port houses.

Many countries produce fortified wine but Portugal is the only country that can produce Port Wine. Portuguese winemakers have been producing the protected beverage in the Douro Valley for centuries.

Plan to end your evenings with small glasses of Port while you’re in Portugal. Better yet, visit one or more Port house in Porto and taste ruby, tawny, white and vintage Port. Once you find your favorite, you’ll want to buy a bottle or two to take home as drinkable souvenirs.

→ Follow our Porto Tonico recipe and craft the white port and tonic cocktail at home.

32. Ginjinha

Ginjinha in Lisbon
Our shots of Ginjinha shots had ginja cherries in the bottom of each glass. We considered them to be a sweet and sour bonus.

Cherry fans will want to drink Ginginha (also called Ginja) in Portugal. Available throughout the country, the sour cherry liqueur is especially easy to find in Lisbon, Óbidos and Alcobaça.

Ginjinha’s ingredients include sour ginja (morello) cherries as well as alcohol, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. If you see Ginjinha served in miniature chocolate cups – order a shot or two. In case you aren’t already aware, cherries and chocolate are a match made in culinary heaven.

Pro Trip
Be aware that Ginjinha is as strong as it is sweet. The ABV exceeds 20%.

33. Café (Coffee)

Coffee Flight at Calma in Porto
We tasted a variety of coffee at C’alma in Porto and none disappointed us.

Commodity coffee made with robusta beans is cheap and plentiful in Portugal. A bica (espresso) rarely costs more than a euro and often less. Accordingly, the Portuguese drink a lot of coffee both at neighborhood cafes and at home.

After traveling the world in search of great coffee, we were pleased to find vibrant specialty coffee scenes in both Lisbon and Porto. Accordingly, we skip the cheap stuff and drink quality flat whites and pour-overs in these cities. What type of coffee you drink in Portugal is up to you.

→ Read our guide to drinking specialty coffee in Lisbon.

Useful Portugal Facts

  • Portugal is in the European Union and is a Schengen country.
  • Portugal’s currency is the Euro.
  • Portuguese is Portugal’s official language.
  • Tips aren’t typically required or expected. Rounding up the bill is a common practice in recognition of good service.

Planning Checklist

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About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Learn European Portuguese

Are you thinking about visiting or moving to Portugal?

We strongly suggest that you start learning European Portuguese now. Not only is it a challenging language to learn, but most apps teach Brazilian Portuguese.

We were thrilled to discover Practice Portuguese, an inexpensive system that makes learning European Portuguese fun.


We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.


Sunday 26th of September 2021

Hello Daryl and Mindi, just wanted to update you sardines. The typical way to eat sardinhas assadas is with broiled green bell pepper salad and boiled potatoes. French fries and rice is hadly the way.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Thursday 14th of October 2021

Thanks for your feedback. When you visit Lisbon, you'll be surprised to see that most local tascas served grilled sardines with french fries and rice.


Saturday 21st of August 2021

Hi, This was very good display of our food diversity! Glad you enjoyed it. One small correction: "Brazilian stews like Feijoada" is not accurate. Feijoada is a very old northern portuguese dish that existed before Brazil was even discovered (by the portuguese). We have feijoada all over the country, each region has its own version. Brazil, due to the portuguese influence, of course has its own, "feijoada à Brasileira", as some other portuguese-speaking countries like Angola, Moçambique, Timor-Leste e Macau do.

Happy exploring :) Patricia

Rosa Afonso

Wednesday 18th of August 2021

Açorda does not translate into "wake up". You are confusing aÇorda with aCorda (notice the slight difference in spelling highlighted in caps. Açorda is the name of a portuguese dish usually bread soup and therefore has no real translation equivalent.

George Melo

Friday 13th of August 2021

Loved your list! Very informative. The only item of concern was your fun fact for number 12 Açorda. The comma under the letter c gives the pronunciation an s sound which does not mean 'wake up' as does acorda or technically acordar without the comma under the c. Acordar means to wake up while Açorda means panada.

Mia Williams

Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

Excellent post! I recently applied for a Portugal Visa UK and hoping to get it in the next week or so. I & my wife are on an itinerary making spree and that is when we came across your post. The 33 Portuguese foods that you shared in the blog look delightful. We would love to try out some these mouth-watering gastronomical delights while exploring popular attractions of Portgual.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 11th of July 2021

Good luck and see you in Portugal!