One of the top highlights of our trip to Porto was the food. Rodrigo and I both went to Porto with very little knowledge of Portuguese food beforehand. I did a bit of research on different dishes to keep an eye on, but we were really hoping to get insider tips (as we usually do) from our Airbnb host.
We found the following restaurants through a variety of sources: Elsa—our helpful Airbnb host, Google Maps reviews, and other travel publications and articles.
1. Café Santiago
Café Santigao is probably the most touristy restaurant on this list, but I think it’s important to include it because it gives you a solid baseline on the famous francesinha of Porto. A francesinha is a sandwich with four different kinds of meat (steak, chorizo, a Portuguese sausage, and ham!), covered in cheese, smothered in a slightly spicy tomato beer sauce, and topped with an egg. It’s served with fries.
Café Santiago is a no-frills cafe. The vibe is very laid-back, but the staff is very helpful and friendly. Menus are available in multiple languages for those who do not speak Portuguese.
We ended up splitting a francesinha for fear of triggering Rodrigo’s lactose intolerance and also ordered a few appetizers to share. The appetizers were lackluster, to be honest, but the francesinha was delicious. It is very rich, since there is a lot of meat, so I doubt I could finish a whole one by myself.
R. de Passos Manuel 226, 4000-382 Porto, Portugal
2. Casa Guedes
This is the first place visited in Porto. Luckily, Casa Guedes is just a few blocks away from our Airbnb. We got there around 5 PM, so there was no line. While Casa Guedes has different sandwich options on their menu, but almost everyone orders the sande de pernil (roast pork sandwich). You can also get it with cheese (com quiejo), which is a mountain cheese that reminds me a lot like raclette. It’s a great happy hour snack, or make it a meal and order multiple sandwiches and fries.
I believe Casa Guedes accepts cards, but we paid in cash.
Praça dos Poveiros 130, 4000-507 Porto, Portugal
3. Confeitaria do Bolhão
Confeitaria do Bolhão is intimidating at first because the line moves fast and it’s often crowded. It’s hard to see the display case to get a look at the labels and point at what you want to get.
But the pastries (both savory and sweet) are so good here. For savory, we really enjoyed the carne rissoles (kind of like a deep fried snack filled with meat) and the bolinhos de bacalhau com quiejo (codfish balls with cheese!). For sweet pastries, these are a solid spot for pasteis de nata.
We went here almost every day for breakfast. You can get the pastries to go or opt to sit in the spacious seating area in the back. Confeitaria do Bolhão is full of tourists and locals, so you know that this spot is the real deal.
Confeitaria do Bolhão
R. Formosa 339, 4000-252 Porto, Portugal
4. Casa do Pescador
Casa do Pescador is not technically in Porto. It’s in a small farming village called Afurada n the municipality of Gaia, across the Duoro River. Rodrigo and I rented a scooter for two days while in Porto, so getting to this restaurant was pretty easy for us. But Afurada is also accessible via public transportation (metro and bus) and a ferry.
Bring your appetite because the portions in Casa do Pescador are huge. We ordered several appetizers (petingas, little fried sardines are my favorite), plus arroz de mariscos—a seafood rice. We thought it would be basically the Portuguese version of paella, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that their version has a lot more sauce.
We were told that the dish is good for two, but it could easily have fed a family of four. The broth was salty and rich and the dish was packed with so much seafood—clams, mussels, shrimp, prawns, and crabs!!
Rodrigo and I did not even come close to finishing our food, much to our chagrin. But our meal at Casa do Pescador was easily one of the best and most memorable of our trip.
Casa do Pescador
R. Vasco da Gama 16, 4400-584 São Pedro da Afurada, Portugal
5. Cantinho do Avillez
Cantinho do Avillez is probably one of the best valued meals we had in Porto. I really wanted to take advantage of the lower prices in Porto by going to a Michelin-recommended restaurant.
Lunch is not advertised on their website, but they had two options for lunch specials. For approximately 12 Euro, you can get a drink (includes wine or beer!), bread course, and main course. For 15 Euro, you can get a drink, bread course, gazpacho, main course, and coffee. Their full menu is also available a la carte.
The service was excellent and the food was also great. It was hard to believe that for such a low price, I could get a pint of beer or a generous glass of wine.
I always find myself comparing things to New York prices, and I cannot think of another restaurant that has such a great lunch special at this low price.
Cantinho do Avillez
R. de Mouzinho da Silveira 166, 4050-416 Porto, Portugal
6. Brasão Cervejaria Coliseu Baixa
The one dish that really stands out for me here is the whole fried onion with black garlic mayonnaise. It’s basically like the blooming onion one could get at Outback Steakhouse (never actually tried it, but the commercials!!), but with BLACK. GARLIC. MAYONNAISE.
It was really tasty, but killing a whole onion between just two people was a mistake because the portions at Brasao are huge. Not to mention the heartburn afterwards …
Was it worth it? Yes.
This restaurant is also massive and it’s great for groups.
Brasão Cervejaria Coliseu Baixa
R. de Passos Manuel 205, 4000-385 Porto, Portugal
If I had to pick between Manteigaria and Confeitaria do Bolhão for the best pastel de nata, I would probably pick Manteigaria.
You know it’s a good pastry when it leaves crumbs all over your clothes. The pastry itself is flaky and buttery and the filling is custardy, caramelly (is this a word?), and not too sweet. I went to this bakery on two separate occasions and both times, my pastel de nata was fresh out of the oven.
Tourists are constantly coming in and out of the store, so you know that the pastéis de nata are constantly fresh. Manteigaria definitely caters to more tourist patrons from its modern decor to open kitchen (so you can see the pastry chefs hard at work).
R. de Alexandre Braga 24, 4000-049 Porto, Portugal