Portuguese food: 10 typical dishes you need to try

The best food in Portugal
The best food in Portugal
5 August 2021, Marilia Poiares

If you are thinking of moving to Portugal or spending a weekend break in the country, you won't have missed out on the fact that Portugal is famous for its food. What dishes are typical in Portugal? What is Portugal's famous dish? It's hard to give just one answer to this question, as each region has its very own speciality dish. Portuguese food culture is on the rise and we have decided to break it down for you so that not a single dish is left out on your gastronomical tour around the country.

Here are 10 typical Portuguese dishes you need to try if you really want to get know Portugal's typical cuisine in 2021, as well as the best regional restaurants to try them in and holiday rentals in the area. Let's begin the tour! 

Papas de Sarrabulho - Minho

Papas de Sarrabulho - potato and meat stew from Minho, Portugal

Our first stop is one of Portugal's most traditional dishes which is only for the brave. Papas de Sarrabulho are typical of Minho, located in Northern Portugal. The dish is a hearty stew made with potatoes, pig's blood, chicken, pork, ham, sausages, cumin, lemon and bread or corn flour. For those who can get past the idea of eating pig's blood, this dish makes for a very tasty meal, perfect to warm you up especially during the winter in Portugal. We recommend Restaurante Carias in Minho where you can try this traditional dish at its finest. 

Feijoada à transmontana - Trás-os-montes

This dish is a bean stew and is one of the most traditional Portuguese dishes that you must try on your food tour of the country. The recipe for this Portuguese dish has also served as an inspiration for other dishes like the famous Brazilian feijoada. It’s made with red beans and appeared in the Trás-os-Montes region at a time when there was so little food meaning that farmers would use all the parts of the pig to cook. We recommend trying this local delight in the Bons Tempos restaurant in the Vila Real district of Trás-os-montes.

Francesinha - Porto

This cheese-topped sandwich is typical in Porto

This is arguably Portugal's best sandwich and is certainly not for the fainthearted. Legend tells that it was invented by a Portuguese emigrant in the 70s, who tried to adapt the famous French croque monsieur and make a Portuguese version. This dish is famous in the city of Porto and is an absolute must-try if you visit the city. The best part is that this beastly sandwich is made with just a few simple ingredients: bread, ham, sausage, steak or roasted meat, all covered with melted cheese and a mysterious spicy sauce. To top it all off, this dish is normally served with a generous portion of chips. Try out Café Santiago in Porto where you'll be able to taste this local delicacy at its finest.

Ovos moles - Aveiro

These familiar shell-shaped desserts are made by Portuguese monks

This dessert has a monastic origin and is the most typical dish that you will find in the charming town of Aveiro. It is made using just 2 ingredients: egg yolks and sugar, that are mixed together to create a paste that is then poured into little moulds shaped like shells or fish. If you have a sweet tooth, then this is a sweet treat that you must try in the historical gem of Confeitaria Peixinho, Aveiro.

Queijo da Serra - Beira Alta

We couldn't take a food tour of Portugal and not mention some of the country's best cheese, and this is the perfect stop on our Portuguese food tour for cheese lovers. Queijo da Serra is prepared with milk from the Serra da Estrela sheep in the Beria Alta region, mostly in the winter so the cheese has time to mature for at least thirty days. This Portuguese delicacy has a strong flavour and smell, and you can eat it when it's matured and firm or when it is still small and creamy, ready to simply be spread on a slice of bread. You can also take some home with you, and we recommend visiting the Solar do Queijo cheese shop, located in Celorico da Beira in the district of Guarda.

Leitão da Bairrada - Beira Litoral

This special roasted suckling pig shows off the best cuisine in Coimbra

Leitão, or piglet, is roasted in a wood-fired oven and generally eaten on special occasions across Portugal, even though it originates in the Bairrada area. People come from all over just to try this traditional Portuguese dish. We recommend trying it in Rui dos Leitões, Coimbra for an authentic experience.

Caldeirada de peixe - Ribatejo

Caldeirada is a rich stew that is full of flavour and includes different types of fish such as mackerel, monkfish, cod and even some shellfish and originates in the Santarém and Setúbal districts. All this protein is bathed in a tasty sauce prepared with onions, garlic, tomatoes and spices to give it an extra kick. Make sure you have some crusty bread nearby due to the fact that it’s mandatory to dip it in the sauce for the full experience. Try it out in the well known Lobo do Mar restaurant.

Pastéis de Belém - Lisbon

Pastéis de Belém

It is highly likely that you have already heard about Portugal's famous pastéis de nata and you might have tasted them as they become more popular across the world, but we can assure you that nothing compares to the pastéis de Belém you will find in Lisbon. The recipe for these little custard tarts dates back to 1837 from an old Jerónimo monastery and is kept secret by its expert makers. If you add the mystery surrounding these local delicacies it to their amazing flavour, then you will be able to understand why the British newspaper The Guardian named it the world's 15th most delicious dessert. Don't miss out on trying them in the Pastéis de Belém shop in Lisbon. 

Choco frito - Setúbal

This is Setúbal’s star dish and you won't want to miss out on trying it on your tour of the best dishes in Portugal. If you are in the area or relatively close (the city is just one hour away from Lisbon by train), make sure you try this dish of fried cuttlefish served with chips and a slice of lemon, best enjoyed on a seaside terrace, and the closest thing you'll find to fish and chips in Portugal! Try it out at the Rei Do Choco Frito restaurant in Setúbal.

Migas - Alentejo

This is a hearty dish that will keep your hunger at bay for quite a while. The ingredients are bread, traditionally made in this southern region of Portugal, olive oil, garlic, pork, tomatoes, red peppers and fresh coriander. This traditional dish is usually served as a side dish, so you can expect to end up pretty full. Try out this tasty dish in Taberna do Adro restaurant in Elvas. 

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