Portuguese cuisine is stealing the spotlight. After years of looking up to renowned European cuisines like French and Italian, Portugal's high-end dining establishments embrace their culinary heritage.
With acclaimed Michelin-starred chefs such as José Avillez, Henrique Sá Pessoa, and Ricardo Costa leading the way, the Portuguese food tour experience has unfolded from Lisbon and Porto to captivate the entire nation.
But don't overlook the charming local eateries, like Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, where age-old Portuguese recipes have been lovingly perfected.
Bacalhau, or codfish, holds a special place in Portuguese cuisine. With over 365 preparations – one for each day of the year – it's a national obsession. Our personal favourite, Bacalhau à brás, is a delightful codfish and egg scramble. Thin strips of Portuguese codfish mingle with potatoes, eggs, onions, garlic, and olives, crowned with chopped parsley. It's a simple yet quintessential Portuguese dish that should not be missed.
Among the many ways to enjoy codfish, Bolinhos de Bacalhau, or codfish cakes, shine as a beloved snack or appetiser. These crispy cod fritters, made with generous portions of cod and mashed potatoes, are seasoned with parsley, onions, and eggs. Shaped into delectable balls and deep-fried to golden perfection, they are a flavourful delight and a must-try Portuguese treat.
When summer arrives in Portugal, so do the enticing aromas of Grilled Portuguese sardines. June marks the height of sardine season, celebrated with fervour during the Santo António Festival. You can also try it at any of the best Portuguese Restaurants in Lisbon. Grilled sardines are devoured straight from the charcoal grill, drizzled with exquisite Portuguese olive oil, and served alongside salads, rice, or potatoes. It's a culinary masterpiece that tantalises the taste buds.
Portugal's expertise in fish preservation shines through its canned sardines. These canned treasures have evolved into gourmet delights, particularly in Lisbon and Porto. Presented in artistic cans, these sardines are preserved in various condiments and flavours, from classic olive oil and lemon to inventive combinations like red pepper fennel and curry. Each can tell a unique flavour story, making petiscos a trendy and delectable Portuguese tapas experience.
Bifanas, the traditional Portuguese pork sandwiches, are a national favourite available all over the country. These mouthwatering sandwiches feature succulent, marinated pork nestled between crusty white bread. The marinade typically includes white wine and a blend of spices like paprika and garlic, with each eatery adding its unique twist. If you are wondering where to buy Portuguese ingredients, you can try farmer markets that sell fresh and authentic produce besides spices. Bifanas can be enjoyed as a complete meal with soup and fries or as a late-night snack paired with beer. Variations abound, from simple renditions to those embellished with fried eggs, bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes. Legend has it that the original bifana recipe hails from Vendas Novas, a charming Alentejo town. But wherever you savour it, the combination of crispy bread and flavourful pork is simply irresistible.
The Francesinha sandwich is a culinary masterpiece you can't miss in Porto. This iconic Portuguese dish combines bread, ham, sausages, and steak, all smothered in melted cheese and crowned with a fried egg. What sets the Francesinha apart is its secret sauce, a thick and spicy tomato-beer concoction unique to each Portuguese eatery. The name, Francesinha, translates to "little French girl" and traces its origins to a returning emigrant inspired by the French croque-monsieur. If you wish to try making it at home, get your hands on traditional Portuguese cuisine recipes. Served with a side of French fries, this hearty Porto speciality is a flavourful indulgence to be savoured in moderation.