10 "Must-Try" Portuguese Foods


The Portuguese love to eat. And by that, we don't mean that they are greedy eaters. On the contrary, people in Portugal take pleasure in the culture of eating. They take their time to properly enjoy their meal and can have dinner for several hours! The Portuguese take a moment to savor a morning cup of tea or coffee with a delicious freshly-baked pastry and regularly treat themselves with a stroll to the nearest cafe for a dessert. As you can see, food is an integral part of the country's culture and even a very picky eater can find something to taste in a great variety of traditional Portuguese dishes. To help you navigate in the flavorful world of classic Portuguese cuisine, we've made a list of the most iconic specialties and drinks that you shouldn't miss during your Portugal travel.


What to Eat & Drink in Portugal

1. Polvo a Lagareiro
Polvo a lagareiro

Greatly influenced by the Mediterranean diet, seafood plays a significant role in Portugal's cuisine, and tasty Polvo a Lagareiro is one of the most popular dishes that you can find in almost any restaurant around the country. Polvo a Lagareiro is made of a whole octopus that's boiled, cut it into pieces, and roasted in the oven till deliciously crispy on the outside, but juicy and tender on the inside. As a rule, it is served with small baked potatoes and dressing, made out of smashed garlic, coriander, salt, and a splash of lemon juice.

2. Posta Mirandesa
Posta mirandesa

Everyone if not has tried then at least heard of the world-famous Florentina and Chateaubriand steaks, an object of the rave of every meat lover around the globe. But the Portuguese diet has something to say about the matter as well. The Posta Mirandesa steak is the king of Portugal steaks, prepared using the meat of a cow from the Tras-os-Montes province. This steak's recipe doesn't include any spices but salt and the resulting dish boasts an amazingly rich taste. It was included in the list of 70 wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy!

3. Porco Preto
Porco preto

Another iconic Portuguese meat is produced from the Iberian black pigs called Porco Preto. These free-range pigs are raised on special farms on a diet of acorns, providing the amazing taste of their meat. Porco Preto is a key ingredient of several famous Portugal dishes, including a dry-cured black ham, the production of which takes approximately 2 years and has to be done by methods, passed on from generation to generation of local farmers. Those lucky people who have tried the luxurious ham, say that the flavorsome meat is worth the wait.

4. Sopa da Pedra
Sopa da pedra

The name of this delicious Portugal dish translates as "stone soup" and there is an interesting local legend about the origin of Sopa da Pedra. According to it, once a homeless monk didn't have anything to eat and, rather than being starved to death, he took a stone, cleaned it, and put in the boiling water. The passing by villagers felt sorry for the poor man and everyone decided to help by putting something in his pot: two potatoes, a handful of beans, a piece of meat. And when the soup finished cooking, it became a feast that the monk shared with the villagers.

5. Sardinhas Assadas
Sardinhas assadas

Without a doubt, the most popular seafood in Portugal is grilled sardines. It's impossible to imagine a summer festival in Portugal without the delicious smell of grilled fish, filling the air. There is no traditional recipe as such, the sardines are just roasted on an open fire till they are wonderfully crispy, and seasoned with a dash of sea salt. Of course, you can buy a whole plate and share it with your friends, but the traditional way to eat this dish is to order an individual sardine on a slice of freshly-baked country bread (no utensils required) and eat it on the way.

6. Chicken Piri-Piri
Chicken Piri-Piri

This Portuguese recipe goes all the way to the 15th century when brave explorers from Portugal traveled Africa and discovered new species of spices. Among them were small but very spicy peppers known as Piri-Piri or "Africa Devil", the main star of Chicken Piri-Piri. Nowadays, you can find small places selling chicken covered in Piri-Piri on every street in Portugal. Such places are called churrascarias and they sell this dish served with french fries and vegetable salad. Locals don't use cutlery to enjoy the chicken, they prefer to eat it using their hands.

7. Bifanas

This classic Portugal food is among the most popular snacks in the country. Served with a glass of ice-cold beer, this is a perfect meal to order in a bar but if you add a bowl of hot soup or a portion of french fries, you easily get a full lunch or dinner meal. The main ingredient of this sandwich is delicious pork marinated in garlic, paprika, and white wine. Every cafe in Portugal has its own Bifanas marinade secret recipe, but other ingredients are quite consistent and include bacon, eggs, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and various herbs.

8. Conventual Desserts
Pasteis de nata

In terms of traditional cuisine, Portuguese desserts take pride of place and conventual desserts are especially favored among the locals. As the name suggests, they originated from convents many centuries ago. Back then egg whites were used in order to stiffen priest and nun's clothing. As a result, nuns were left with plenty of egg yolks. So they took the remaining yolks, plenty of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon, baked the resulting mix, creating an amazing dessert. Later, the creative nuns started to sell pastries to get money for the convent's needs.

9. Alto Douro Wine
Alto Douro Wine

Portugal's Duoro region is famous for its spectacular landscapes and delicious wines. The breathtaking valley houses some of the oldest wineries in the world, producing a wide range of red, white, and rose wines. But the most celebrated product of the Duoro region is called Barca Velha and it is produced in the Casa Ferreirinha winery. This wine can be produced only in the exceptional years and only 19 bottles of Barca Velha were made since the winery's foundation in 1952, making it one of the rarest wines in the world.

10. Port Wine
 Port Wine

Another famous child of the Douro Valley is port wine, also known as "Vinho do Porto" or simply "Porto". As a rule, Porto is a sweet red wine, usually served as dessert wine although there are white, dry, and semi-dry varieties of Vinho do Porto available. In the UK there is a tradition to serve Porto by passing the bottle to the diner on the left and not allowing it to touch the table on its way around. If one of the guests forgets to pass the bottle, he can be reminded by asking him or her the "Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?" question.