It’s no secret that I love Portugal, with Porto placing high on my list of happy places! The food of Portugal was also unforgettable.
I love it for many reasons, and I have no problem admitting that the food (yes, including the wine!) is one of the main reasons why. Portuguese food is delicious!
Portuguese gastronomy is all about spices and bold flavors that have really piqued the foodie in me.
Being so close to the Atlantic Ocean, fish or some form of seafood is a staple for many top Portuguese dishes. Meats are popular too, usually the perfectly marinated, super tasty kind!
I’m all about trying out new traditional Portuguese dishes every time I visit, and I can’t wait to share some of my faves with you.
So here are my recs of the food of Portugal you have to try on your next trip!
Food of Portugal: 10 of the Best Foods to Try
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a sandwich that’s much tastier than the bifana!
It’s the thin pork slices—that have been marinated for hours in a delectable concoction of white wine, paprika, garlic, and other spices—that give this traditional Portuguese dish its kick.
And when it’s served up in a soft or crunchy bread roll with mustard, the combination is dreamy! Want to make it a full meal? Add some french fries on the side, and you’re set.
Different parts of Portugal have their own take on the bifana but the traditional version is said to come from Vendas Novas, a town near Lisbon.
Well, whoever invented it, hats off to them because this is some of the best street food I’ve ever tasted!
The concept here is simple: dry, salted codfish bursting with salty flavor. Bacalhau is a traditional Portuguese food that you’ll find in many different forms from tapas to casseroles.
I’ve heard that there are 365 ways to cook bacalhau, so you can bet you’ll come across it during your travels!
One of my favorites is bolinhos de bacalhau, which are basically turbo-flavored fish sticks or fish croquettes.
They’re a popular snack that you can find in many cafés throughout Portugal. It’s a tasty bite you just have to try!
3. Caldo Verde
Although it seems like a just simple soup at first glance, caldo verde is one of the most popular and beloved local dishes in Portugal. It originated in the north but is featured on menus throughout the country.
Greens form the base of the soup (hence the name caldo verde) which is typically a type of dark cabbage that’s native to Portugal but can also be kale or collard greens.
The final combination includes potatoes, local olive oil, and slices of chouriço sausage, which really pack a punch of flavor.
You may not be in much of a soup mood if you’re visiting Portugal in summer, but give this soup a taste. You won’t regret it!
4. Grilled Sardines
Sardinhas assadas—as you’d say in Portuguese—are Portugal’s prime summertime dish.
“Sardine season” starts in June when Lisbon’s Day of Saint Anthony Festival kicks off the grilled sardines celebration on June 12th.
If you’re visiting Portugal in the summer months, rest assured that grilled sardines will greet you everywhere!
The best way to enjoy them is when they’re served directly from a charcoal grill, drizzled with fresh Portuguese olive oil, and served with a side of fresh salad, potatoes, or rice.
Whether you find the sight of them appetizing or not, be sure you give grilled sardines a try. Seriously, they’re super tasty!
5. Chicken Piri-Piri
Ooh, this is a tasty one! Portuguese explorers traveling through Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries made one heck of a discovery: a small spicy pepper called piri-piri or “African devil.”
Since then, piri-piri covered chicken has become a Portuguese national dish and, lucky for us foreign visitors, you’ll find it everywhere.
When served as churrascarias, piri piri chicken is usually served with french fries or chips and a small salad.
On the go? Just grab some piri chicken from a local churrascaria to go! Yumm!
6. Porco Preto
If you’re a fan of ham, Portugal’s porco preto (black pork) will knock your socks off!
In Spain, you’ll find jamón ibérico de bellota, the finest grade pork and pretty much the most expensive cured ham in the world. Because these pigs are raised in Spain, they’re called Iberico pigs, but what a lot of people don’t know is that the same pigs are raised just across the border in the Alentejo region. They’re just called raça Alentejana, and they produce porco preto.
The result is the same melt-in-your-mouth, super flavorful pork that you’ll surely agree is the best in the world. You’ll find Portuguese black pork dishes in most restaurants menus like plumas, which is grilled pork shoulder.
Another tasty version is presunto, which is dried and cured porto preto—similar to Italian prosciutto—that’s popular for tapas.
Pair your porco preto dish of choice with a glass of Portuguese wine and enjoy a divine meal!
7. Duck Rice
I love a good rice dish—risotto, paella, jambalaya, you name it— which is why I find duck rice so irresistible.
Arroz de pato, or duck rice, is a traditional Portuguese dish that originated in the North of Portugal. All of the ingredients used to make this dish come together perfectly: savory duck, garlic, bay leaf, port wine or white wine, and rice.
What really makes Portuguese duck rice stand out is the addition of local chouriço, or smoked pork meat like bacon, to flavor the broth and is also used as garnish.
Typically, locals eat Arroz de Pato on special occasions or enjoy it as a Sunday family meal. But you can find this local food favorite on many restaurant menus throughout the country.
8. Francesinha Sandwich
This yummy sandwich is popular in Porto, and you’ll see it on almost every menu in the city. This isn’t a typical light, quick-bite type of sandwich. When you order it, get ready for some hearty richness!
The Francesinha sandwich is made with two slices of bread filled with layers of ham, sausage, and steak, all covered in melted cheese.
But that’s not all—it’s then topped with a fried egg and served with some version of a secret sauce that every restaurant prepares in its own way.
You’ll get your sandwich served on a plate, usually with a side of french fries. So, yeah, this dish isn’t ideal for the calorie conscious. Packed with calories and worth every single one!
9. Polvo à la Lagareiro
Scrumptious seafood is a cornerstone of Portuguese cuisine, as you’ve realized by now with all the talk of bacalhau and sardine festivals. Another local favorite to add to the list is octopus or polvo.
The most popular octopus dish is polvo à la lagareiro and for good reason. Lagareiro means cooking with generous amounts of that delicious Portuguese olive oil and is a popular way that locals choose to cook seafood.
For this dish, the octopus is baked and roasted with potatoes and sometimes prepared Mediterranean style with lots of garlic and other fixings like olives or coriander.
No matter how it’s prepared, the end result is always a tender, flavorful meal that’s sure to make it to your Instagram feed!
10. Pastel de Natas
There’s no way you can go on a mission to try iconic food of Portugal and not have at least one pastel de natas during your visit. Although, if you have one, chances are you’ll get as addicted as the rest of us!
These sweet, egg custard treats are Portugal’s most iconic dessert. You’ll find them at pastry shops throughout the country, often with the shop’s own unique twist.
These pastries have been a Portuguese staple for a long time, originally made in nunneries and monasteries back in the medieval period.
There are tons of pastry shops that make them now, but the most famous is Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon that’s been around since 1837.
The core ingredients of pastéis de natas are eggs, milk, flour, and lots of sugar. Their shells are crispy and delicious thanks to the layers of butter that are used to make the dough.
I mean, what’s not to love?
Pair these with a cup of delicious Portuguese coffee, and you’re in heaven.
Remembering all of this yummy food makes me miss Portugal! I’ve tasted lots of good stuff but know I have more to discover.
I can’t wait to go back! I hope this food of Portugal post has tantalized your taste buds enough to get the adventurous foodie in you primed for your next trip. Bon appetite!
Heading to Portugal? Get inspo from my other Portugal guides here.
What to See in Porto: 4-day Travel Guide
Top 20 Things to Do in Porto Portugal
Boutique Hotels in Porto
Azulejos in Porto: The Best Places to See Blue Tiles in Porto
The 14 Most Beautiful Places in Portugal
Algarve Luxury Hotels
Monverde Wine Experience Hotel
The best foods of Portugal are:
– Caldo Verde
The best places to eat in Portugal are:
– Cantina 32
The best time to visit Portugal is from March to May.