Best Food From Portugal

You will love our best food from Portugal. Telling the story of what Portuguese food, you must try on your next trip to Portugal. After living in Portugal for 13 years, this is the best of the best, and perfect for planning your food eats for your trip.

From steak on the stone to piri piri chicken to a bifana to pastel de nata you will love the Portuguese cuisine.

Best Food From Portugal

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Food From Portugal

The Portuguese love their food and eating food in Portugal is very much an event. Instead of the USA method of eating as fast as you can and then rushing to do their next thing, a Portuguese family can easily spend two hours enjoying a family meal out.

Their Portuguese meal will often start with some bread and olives and maybe some pate and cheese, followed by the starter, or they might treat the bread course as the starter, then its their mains and often finish on some coffee or a liqueur.

Plus, the meal will usually involve some red wine because the Portuguese love it and many of the best red wine options come from Portugal.

But also note, the Portuguese income is very low compared to other parts of the world and many of these meals will be delicious but made using simple everyday ingredients that have the wow factor.

Think amazing chicken and rice, pork sandwiches (bifanas) and my all-time favourite is their savoury rice which is the best. 

But there is so many different amazing foods from Portugal I know that I am barely going to touch the surface here, but it will still give you many ideas for when you head to Portugal.

So let me talk you through some of the favourites along with what food was like for the years we lived in Portugal.

We will also be joined by Mariana too who lived in Porto for 24 years.

Meet Mariana

Mariana is a Portuguese Expat living in Yorkshire. She made the move from Porto in Northern Portugal to England when she married Jack in early 2023.  On a visit back to Porto  to visit family she spent 2 days exploring all the tourist hotspots of Porto including many hidden gems for the readers of Trip Meets Travel.

#1 Steak On The Stone

This was our first ever introduction to Portuguese cuisine just after arriving in The Algarve. We had moved in the late July and we went out for steak on the stone at a Portuguese restaurant for Dom’s birthday in the September.

If you are not familiar with steak on the stone, its just as it sounds…

Your steak is brought out for you on a thick stone and it is uncooked. You then cook it to your liking at the restaurant table. Its brilliant because you get to choose how you want it cooked and depending on the restaurant you can get some that do fillet steak, some that are sirloin and some that are rump.

Dom always had the fillet steak at our local Portuguese restaurant, and it was served with the best ever garlic and bacon potatoes, and salad. Of course, nobody ever cared for the salad!

Then back home because the steak on the stone is so unusual everyone is online trying to buy their own steak on the stone so that they can re-create steak on the stone at home. Which thanks to this seller of steak on the stones you now can!

portugal steak on the stone
Check this out, it’s a picture of our steak on the stone, With the stone for cooking your meat on, plus a serving dish and a trio of little pots for your steak sauces. I recommend getting two and then you can have a romantic steak dinner for two.

#2 Meal Of The Day

In Portugal they have several simple café’s that are selling what I would describe as a meal of the day which in Portuguese is prato do dia.

If you find yourself in a typical Portuguese cafe/restaurant when you look at the menu you’ll see it is almost always divided in two parts. Various dishes that the restaurant can offer, and at the front the “prato do dia section”. What this means is, although the restaurant offers all the other dishes, that is, directly translating, their dish of the day, a very typical Portuguese cuisine dish that they recommend you to try for that day.

In most cafes/restaurants for their prato do dia, they’ll offer soup (Portuguese people love their soup), the main dish which could be something more intricate like feijoada (which takes loads of time to cook, since it involves different times of meat) or something very simple like bread crumb chicken with chips (fries), rice and a fried egg.

But you best believe that, despite being a very simple dish that you most likely have at home all the time, it will be the best breadcrumbed chicken with chips, rice, and a fried egg you’ll have. The prato do dia, in many restaurants include a dessert or at least a coffee (not the coffee you’re thinking of, it’s what you’d call an “espresso”).

Prato do dia is typically very affordable, you can normally get a full meal between 5-10 euros (drinks are usually excluded)

These are my favourite meals that I have enjoyed in Portugal and remind me (like other Mediterranean countries) that Portugal and their best food is about simple ingredients, with great flavours, made into something truly spectacular.

My favourite ever meal of the day (prato do dia), that I enjoyed was at my favourite Plazza Café in the little town of Silves in The Algarve. It was lemon chicken in a delicious sauce and served with savoury rice and chips (French fries) it was amazing.

The same place would have a different special each day and it would cost 9€ for three courses. That would be the bread and olives course, main course and one of their delightful cakes. The price would also include a drink and I would feel totally stuffed and then shocked that lunch out for Dom & I had come to just 18€.

When Mariana was showing you how to put together a 2 day Porto itinerary and things to do in Porto she went to a café that reminded me of the exact same thing, but an up north version.

When she visited Sabores da Invicta, she had a Prego no Prato (there’s not translation for the dish but it’s basically beef with a fried egg on top, chips (French fries) and a slice of ham and cheese) and an Invicta Burger (which is a regular burger with a fried egg inside).

Sabores da Invicta - Prego no Prato
This is the Prego no Prato that Mariana had and wow doesn’t it look delicious?

What got me when she described it is that the same cafes we would visit would always have their take on a burger and chips with a fried egg and sometimes served with some rice too.

It was always funny listening to the Portuguese café owner trying to explain to Americans especially because they were concerned that the tourists would complain because it doesn’t look like a classic burger.

But I will tell you now, these are delicious.

And if you do want to do the Portuguese meal of the day, just walk through one of these cute little towns see the board outside and see if today’s meal is your kind of food and give it a go.

Another thing for those of you that are nervous because your Portuguese is not very good. They have signs outside of cafes with the food in photos. This makes it easy for you to choose your food, especially if your waiter doesn’t speak English.

Sabores da Invicta
For example, here is the front of the Sabores da Invicta café that Mariana visited and note the pictures next to the food.

What is a typical lunch in Portugal? I find that lunch in Portugal is very different from lunch in the UK (at least in our house) we tend to have something light for lunch like a sandwich, while in Portugal you have a full meal sometimes including soup.

Thinking back to all of my years in Portugal I think a typical lunch would be breadcrumbed chicken with rice and chips (french fries), sometimes with a fried egg.

Something I can also think about is fish, we tend to have fish for dinner – sardines, salmon or cod which is always accompanied by either rice or boiled potatoes (and if you’re Portuguese you always a bit of olive oil sprinkled on top)

#3 Piri Piri Chicken

If there is a food that is famous around the world from Portugal it is piri piri chicken. Known in Portugal as Piri Piri Chicken (frango assado com piri piri). Now if this is the first time you’re seeing this word, or perhaps you have seen it before or even looked it up as peri peri chicken, know that’s the english way of typing it. When in Portugal or looking up the portuguese dish, it’s spelled as piri piri chicken.

But what is interesting about piri piri chicken is that you don’t know the heat level you are getting. Its like going to Nandos and they don’t offer you the choice and you could be getting the plainish, the medium, the lemon and herb or the hot!

I had a favourite café (only a few doors away from the one I mentioned that we got the meal of the day from above) and they always served the piri piri the same way and the place was famous for it.

The piri piri chicken you got would be like the plainish option at Nando’s and it was served with homemade chips (French fries) and the most amazing salad ever. It was the marinade on the salad that made you want extra. You got one dish with the chicken, another with salad and another with chips. Then if you wanted more, they would bring you extra and it was out of this world AMAZING….

But then we visited Camping Olhao once and OMG the spice on their piri piri meant you needed two litres of water to deal with the heat. I would compare it to the hot level at Nandos.

So then when Mariana and Jack sampled the piri piri chicken at Churrasqueira Moura and got a squirty bottle I was so impressed. (you can read their full review of their piri piri in our things to do in porto post). They had a bottle and could choose their heat level rather than having to play a game of not knowing the heat level.

Churrasqueira Moura piri piri chicken dinner
This is the piri piri chicken they had in Porto. Served with both chips and rice this is common to how it will look when it is served. Depending where you are and which café you are at you can get rice, chips, salad or a combo of them.
portugal piri piri chicken
And of course, this is the bottle that came with their piri piri chicken great if you want to control the heat level or you go to restaurants that normally serve it without the heat.

Though I do highly recommend trying the piri piri chicken when you go to Portugal and ask the locals which one their favourite is and expect the price to be low. When we went we were always surprised by just how cheap it was and loved to go on a Saturday afternoon and enjoy chicken sat outside in the Portuguese sunshine.

  • What do the Portuguese eat with piri piri chicken? Piri piri chicken is normally served with chips (french fries) and rice. If you’re eating it at a restaurant the chicken will be most likely served with salad. In some places you’ll also be able to get a barbecued sausage (which is very yummy and if you have the opportunity, I’d advise you to get it with your meal).
  • What is the difference between peri peri chicken and piri piri chicken? So many people google Porto peri peri yet when you see the piri piri chicken listed on the board, you are wondering is it piri piri or peri peri. Well, peri peri, is the English word and piri piri is the Portuguese word.
  • Is piri-piri popular in Portugal? Piri piri is very popular in Portugal, the Portuguese love their hot sauces, and you’ll find that some of the food that you might try (especially the ones with sauces) might be a little spicy like francesinha or bifana.

#4 Bacalhau

Loved by many, known as the Portuguese national dish, and my idea of Portuguese comfort food heaven is bacalhau which translates into English as salted cod.

They have salted cod in Portugal that is very salty and like with gammon in the UK needs a soak to get rid of the salty taste.

Then once it has been soaked it is often transformed into what I would describe as a cod bake with the cod cooked in a creamy sauce. I will often have it at a café with some rice or some chips or some crusty bread and its delicious.

As bacalhau just means salted cod and something they have a lot at Christmas to get the delicious cod bake you need to ask for bacalhau a bras. 

#5 Bifanas

I was first introduced to bifanas not long after we had first arrived in Portugal and we were in love with them instantly.

Down in The Algarve they are usually a pork steak sandwich that are served warm in a nice bread roll. You will often see people in the supermarket on Saturday morning stocking up on pork to cook on the barbecue and then serve bifanas to their guests later in the day.

Though what I love about the Portuguese cuisine is that it can differ region to region.

Whilst that is the norm in The Algarve up north in Porto its more like the Greek gyro texture and kebab like.

This is what Mariana had to say about a bifana in Porto:

A bifana – which is like a kebab type of meat (but not kebab meat) that is cooked in a special tomato sauce and put inside a delicious and traditional Portuguese bread.

Which I find really interesting because in the south it is just thrown on the barbecue vs a tasty tomato sauce.

If you want to try a Portugal bifana they are often at cafes as well as from food trucks at popular tourist locations.

#6 Maria’s Fish & Soup

During the 6 years that we owned our own home in Portugal we had a lovely neighbour called Maria. She was Portuguese through and through, didn’t speak a word of English and sadly passed from old age after we left Portugal.

She had a very small allotment and would grow everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. She had everything growing from spinach to pumpkin to figs to broccoli.

She had a sheltered area too where she kept her pumpkins out of the way of the sun as well as a massive sack filled with sweet potatoes she had grown.

It was of course brilliant living next door to her when you were short on potatoes as it was a 10km drive to the nearest supermarket.

This very much reminds me of the typical Portuguese home cook and how they grow everything are incredibly frugal and then rely on cheap meat and fish to make their meals with.

I always remember that Maria would always start a meal with soup made with spinach, sweet potato and pumpkin and then fish on the outside grill, along with some rice and more veggies.

I love how healthy there were and how fit even the over 75 are in Portugal.

A real taste of Portugal and the best food of Portugal would be all about the soup and in a lot of the meal of the day options soup is often available as a starter.   

#7 School Dinners Of Portugal

Mention the school dinners of Portugal to a British person and they will think you have a screw loose and will not believe a word that you are saying. Just because it is so healthy and nothing like what you would get in the UK.

Whilst today at school my kids are having a pasta bake with fruit or yoghurt and a yummy dessert with custard, Portugal is a different story.

Instead, it will be a soup course, then a healthy meal of usually some fish, rice and veggies, followed by a piece of fruit.

Super healthy and they are not allowed to be fussy kids and must not leave the table until it is all eaten!

#8 Food Festivals Of Portugal

One of my favourite times for food was always the food festivals of Portugal. When you would all gather at festivals and there would be stalls selling Portuguese made crafts, lots of street food and normally some great music too if you fancied a dance.

Down in The Algarve the favourite was always the Fatical which was in central Lagoa. They did a fantastic festival in August, and we would have dinner, check out the stalls and also enjoy the great music. They would usually have some characters dressed up for the kids too and it always had a fantastic atmosphere.

Because we went every year we got used to the food and looked forward to certain ones each year such as fruit covered in chocolate on sticks which tasted amazing and was usually white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate options with banana, strawberries, pineapple or grapes for the fruit.

They would also always do a platter of meat on a plate too as well as lovely ham and cheese baguettes.

fatical lagoa
This was our favourite one. Though there must have been about 20 different businesses showcasing the best of Portugal food and wine.
fatical lagoa meat platter
Here are the meat platters we would have at the fatical – you got a platter of sliced deli meats with cheese, some cooked meat like their amazing chorizo, plus lots of sliced bread. If you look closely you can see that Jorge who has his pram parked really close to the table has his foot up. He was just 11 months when this photo was taken.

Of course, that is just one foodie festival of Portugal that happens for a few weeks in The Algarve, up north in Porto there is even more to choose from.

Like the Francesinha Festival. You heard that right, francesinha is SO good that we have a whole festival dedicated to it.

If this is your first time coming across what a francesinha is, or maybe you just need a reminder, imagine beef (or chicken), ham and cheese sandwiched between two slices of bread, this bread is covered in melted cheese and a delicious (often spicy, I told you the portuguese love their spice) sauce. Often served with a fried egg on top and chips on the side. That’s a festival I want to attend!

#9 Feijoada

Whilst many will say the nations dish is bacalhau, the other favourite is feijoada.

Feijoada is a VERY traditional dish but not to everyone’s taste (not mine)…

Portuguese tend to cook feijoada in big portions, possibly because there’s A LOT of ingredients in it like turkey leg, pork shoulder, linguica sausage, white beans and hot sauce, and many other things (so like a big messy stew).

Perfect with some Portuguese bread to dunk into it.

You’ll be able to find it in traditional Portuguese restaurants and for very affordable prices as well.

If you’re a bit more adventurous with your food, definitely give it a try!

#10 Bolas De Berlim (Portuguese Doughnuts)

Now that I have discussed the savoury offerings of Portugal let’s talk about the sweet tooth and the amazing foods of Portugal that are a must try if you love your sugar.

Our all time favourite (that we all love) is bolas de berlim which is the Portuguese version of a big stuffed doughnut and even better, when you are on the beach sunbathing you will hear the doughnut guy shouting and it will sound like he is saying “boleeeneeeeas” or “beleeneeas” depending on the Portuguese accent and then you will hear it again and again.

He will have a cooler like the ones you use for your picnic on the beach, and it will be full of doughnuts of different flavours. 

They are so good and of course inflation has hit Portugal now, but I remember when they were a Euro each and you would get it with a napkin and could sit on the beach enjoying your doughnut.

#11 Pastel De Nata (Egg Tart)

Okay, so if there is a food from Portugal that is well known around the world then it is the pastel de nata.

What is the difference between egg custard tart and Pastel de Nata? Well, aesthetically speaking an egg custard tart that is sold in the UK and one that is sold in Portugal are very similar. But like a recipe that is copied or recreated from the original, the taste is not going to be quite the same. Maybe this is just being very Portuguese, but custard tarts in Portugal are the REAL thing, and if you have a chance to try one in Porto, you’ll hopefully side with me.

What is pastéis de nata in English? Pastel de nata (or pastéis de nata if we’re talking about multiple) translates to egg custard tart(s). Even though some bakeries and places around the UK have the pastries under “pasteis de nata” instead of its translation, you’ll find the staff won’t be able to understand you if you say the name like you know how to, with a Portuguese accent. After asking for “two pasteis de natas” in a UK bakery, the man behind the balcony pulled a face at me and corrected me and said “do you mean the pastels?” to which I just smiled and said yes in Portuguese shame. So unless you’re in Portugal, maybe just stick to asking for a custard tart.

Mariana wanted to show you what a pastel de nata is really like, so during her trip back to Porto, she went into one of the factories that make them and where you can also sit in the café and enjoy them. This is what she said about her visit to A Manteigaria in Porto.

If you have not heard of A Manteigaria, it is best described as a factory of Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts).

When you walk in the shop, you’ll be able to see all the confectionery process, from the preparation of the pastry, the adding of the cream to putting and taking them out of the oven.

The Nata can be eaten at the shop (either at the balcony or at a table) or you can take them home with you in a little box for a later snack.

A fun fact about the Manteigaria is that there’s a bell that announces when a new batch of patel de nata comes out of the oven ready to be eaten!

And of course, pictures tell a great story too and here are some photos that Mariana took at A Manteigaria.

A Manteigaria
This is the front of A Manteigaria which from the outside just looks like a regular bakery in Porto until you go inside and see the real action.
A Manteigaria - pastel de nata being made
You can also watch them making the egg tarts before you buy them. Its fascinating to see the process up close and as the most famous food of Portugal a bucket list trip to watch the action.
A Manteigaria in the trays
Then at A Manteigaria they have them out in the trays behind the counter before they are placed into containers ready to be served to you.
pastel de nata for sale
You will then see them on the counter like this and ready for sale. You can then choose how many you want to purchase and take home with you.
A Manteigaria eating in porto
Then at A Manteigaria you have the choice of sitting in and having one in a napkin or takeaway. We love the idea of taking them with us for a nice Porto beach day.

#12 The Portuguese Bakery

I asked Mariana what she missed of the food of Portugal, and she said to me pastries which I have to admit are pretty special.

There are lots of bakeries throughout Portugal and you can always find a good one as you wander around a new location.

Just like in the UK when you visit a local town and there will be loads of bakeries.

Though be aware if you have a nut allergy praline is used a lot in Portugal and it was a big struggle raising Kyle with a nut intolerance.

portuguese bakery in porto
Here is a typical Portuguese bakery in Portugal and I highly recommend going in and trying something different and really getting to know the delicious pastries of Portugal.

#13 The Portuguese Ice Cream Parlour

Portugal also has ice cream parlours, ideal for when it is hot. I love the different choices of flavours they have, and you can usually get them to sit in with or takeaway.

I love the shelter in July/August when its very hot usually with a cold drink at the same time or in September and May it is nice to have an ice cream as you walk down the street.

The Portuguese Ice Cream Parlour
Mariana found a great ice cream shop in the centre of Porto and wow look at how many different flavours they had. I mean how do you choose? Because when I have an ice cream its like I need 3 scoops because I cant choose between a final 3!

What Region Of Portugal Has The Best Food?

Okay, so this is the time when each of the regions are going to say, that their food is the best and that you must choose my region of Portugal.

Down south in The Algarve we have the cataplana, and we also have a lot of region rice dishes. Yet what we always feel is that we are lacking in what’s available up north. As in the old chestnut of a lot more available in the city than in the countryside complaint.

For example, in Porto and Lisbon because they are big cities you have a lot more choice. You have more Starbucks and other international places such as Steak n Shake and of course Hard Rock Café.

hard rock cafe porto
This is the hard rock café in Porto city centre in Portugal. I just wish they had a Hard Rock Café down in The Algarve!
steak n shake burgers porto
Then this is the burgers and fries at steak n shake in Porto. I had never heard of it until now and now I want to try it out for myself.
steak n shake porto
Though my favourite thing about Steak n Shake is the beautiful décor that they have inside it makes me really want to sit in and admire the style of the burger chain.

Fun McDonalds Food Facts!

Calling all McDonalds fans, you will be in for a shock when you go to McDonalds in Portugal. Firstly, you need to deal with the fact that they don’t do those amazing thick milkshakes which you want more in hot Portugal in August. This is because they don’t have the same milk so instead, we get stuck with some basic smoothies instead.

Then second, have you ever seen the scene from Pulp Fiction when Samuel L Jackson tells John Travolta that in Europe, they have fries with mayo and a McRoyale instead of a quarter pounder? He is of course referring to France, but that same thing applies throughout continental Europe.

You see we don’t have imperial measurements therefore a quarter pounder would be weird so instead have a McRoyale!

Now if we’re talking about McDonald’s we can’t forget to mention Porto’s McDonald’s. Located in Avenida dos Aliados, Porto’s McDonald’s has been considered the world’s most beautiful McDonald’s.

Now you’re probably thinking it’s a McDonald’s, how can it be that beautiful? Well on top of being placed in a beautiful historical looking building, on the inside the ceilings are decorated with friezes and there’s crystal chandeliers dangling from these. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a massive stained glass window behind the counter.

So if you fancy getting a McDonald’s in your stay in Porto definitely check this one, just remember to not ask for a quarter pounder with a milkshake!

And that wraps up the best food of Portugal. Of course, we have details below of places to stay in Porto if you haven’t found that special place yet, as well as more food in Portugal frequently asked questions.

Where To Stay In Porto

Porto has some brilliant places to stay especially for being close to all the major attractions. You also have something for every budget with cheap, mid-range and pure city centre comfort.

I have included below three amazing choices all with great reviews and perfect for city break to Porto.

Luxury Porto: InterContinental Porto Hotel is a five-star hotel in the city of Porto. Located in the Historic Centre region, its architecture bleeds right in with surrounding buildings. The rooms are beautifully decorated and will offer all the comfort you’re looking for. The hotel also offers an indoor sauna that you can take advantage of, as well as massages and body treatments – Click here for more details including loads of photos, reviews and more about the facilities.

InterContinental Porto Hotel

City Moderate: The Eurostars Porto Douro Hotel is a four star Hotel in Porto City if you’re looking for a solid mid-range. Located in the Old Town region, makes it perfect for you to explore the historic part of the city while getting a beautiful view of the Douro River right from your window –  Click here for photos, more info and to read the glowing reviews.

The Eurostars Porto Douro Hotel

City Budget: If you’re looking for a more budget friendly hotel then Moov Hotel Porto Centro Hotel will be a great option for you. The hotel offers multiple affordable rooms, and its location makes it easy to explore the Porto city centre, without breaking the bank – You can find out more here about this Porto budget hotel and just check out the photos, it is amazing.

Food In Portugal FAQ

  • What are 3 popular foods in Portugal? The 3 most popular foods in Portugal are cod, piri piri chicken and feijoada.
  • Why is cod popular in Portugal? Portugal’s history with Cod started many years ago with the Vikings. Cod was preserved with salt, which made it very durable. On top of its durability, it was also very affordable. The Portuguese quickly learned to cook this fish and nowadays it’s part of many Portuguese dishes. Including most Portuguese’s families ‘ food of choice for their Christmas meal.
  • What is the national food of Portugal? Even though Portugal has many popular foods and opinions might divide when it comes to what’s the national food, I say cod is Portugal’s national food.
  • What is the most popular meat in Portugal? Portugal’s most popular and used meat is pork. It is very cheap and if you watch Portuguese people doing their weekly grocery shop you will see a lot of pork being bought.
  • What do they drink in Portugal? If you go to Portugal, you’ll of course be able to find any standard drink that you can buy in your own country. You can’t talk about Portugal (especially not about Porto) without speaking about Port Wine. Any restaurant will offer Port Wine, but if you want to know more about the culture of our wine don’t forget to check out our free walking tours post about the Porto vineyards. Something that you might also want to try is the Portuguese beer, so if you find yourself stopping for a meal or a drink ask for a Super Bock (it’s so popular you’ll literally be able to get t-shirts with the label on it).

Pin Best Portugal Food For Later!

Well, that’s a wrap, do you have any questions then do ask below and if you want to refer back, to this later for planning your trip to Portugal then don’t forget to pin it to your travel board on Pinterest.

the best food in porto

the best places to eat out in porto

About the author

Run by Sam, Dom, Kyle, Sofia & Jorge it documents our family’s love for eating out, day trips, road trips and great holidays.

We just love a trip, we love to travel, and here we will show you with a little planning, how to have a great adventure and create new memories along the way!

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