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Bacalhau à Brás dish © Wikimedia Commons
Bacalhau à Brás dish © Wikimedia Commons

5 Traditional Dishes You Must Try When in Porto

Picture of Nina Santos
Updated: 23 January 2017
A trip to Portugal is as much a culinary experience as it is a historical and nature-filled adventure, and as more tourists flood this small country, one takeaway message is clear: Portuguese food is delicious! These five dishes are clear proof of that.


Normally flavored with garlic, wine and chilli pepper sauce (called piri piri) as the base, Portuguese recipes burst with character and aroma. While travelling through Portugal, expect a hybrid of meats, seafood and vegetables to fill the menus, but each region and city has its own specialties and personalities that must be sampled.

While in Porto, the cuisine reflects the surrounding terrain. Situated between sea and mountains, diners can expect a mix of surf and turf. There are also plenty of thick soups and stews to sink into. These five recipes are a handful of many that must be tried while visiting Portugal’s second city.

Caldo Verde © Therese C / Wikimedia Commons

Caldo verde means ‘kale soup’ | © Therese C / Wikimedia Commons

Caldo Verde

What’s more comforting than a steaming bowl of soup? Caldo verde, known as kale soup in English, is a simple but delicious recipe that showcases healthy kale as the superstar. It’s not all vegetables, however, and is normally flavored with Portuguese chouriço. Thickened with pureed potatoes and flavored with garlic (like most other Portuguese recipes), one or two bowls of soup will satisfy both bellies and palates in unison.

Tripas a moda do Porto © Jessica Spengler / Flickr

Tripas a Moda do Porto was born from necessity | © Jessica Spengler / Flickr

Tripas à Moda do Porto

It’s almost a foodie crime to visit a city and not taste its namesake dish – and Porto Tripe (the English translation) is also a dish with a story! It’s said that when Portugal’s Henry the Navigator was preparing for one of his expeditions, he asked for help gathering supplies from the people of Porto. The result was an outward show of generosity – so much so that the locals were left only with animal entrails and organs. As necessity facilitates creativity, Tripas à Moda do Porto was thus born! This dish (now complete with beans, sausage, vegetables, and herbs) has become so popular that it led to the term Tripeiros, a nickname for locals from Porto.

Francesinha © Dave Collier / Flickr

Francesinha includes a sauce made from beer | © Dave Collier / Flickr


There may be no dish from Porto more popular than the Francesinha. Introduced in the 1960s, it’s a twist on a classic French sandwich. Not a recipe for vegetarians, the Francesinha is a sandwich filled with four or five different meats, covered in cheese and drowned in sauce. What’s in the sauce? No one really knows! Each chef has their own secret, but beer is normally the base. Many restaurants in Porto claim to have the best Francesinha, so deciding where to go is a matter of guesswork, opinions from locals and personal opinion.

Cozido a Portuguesa

Here is a dish that is as Portuguese as it gets, and one that is normally listed as a favorite no matter which region it’s from. At the basics, a cozido is a stew with many different cuts and types of meat, served alongside cabbage, carrots, onions and potatoes. Each city leaves its own mark on this popular recipe, and a visit to northern Portugal is incomplete without indulging at least once.

Bacalhau com natas © Jennifer Woodard Maderazo / Flickr

Bacalhau com natas makes for great comfort food | © Jennifer Woodard Maderazo / Flickr

Bacalhau com Natas

Bacalhau (codfish) is the most popular fish in Portuguese cuisine – a fact proven by the hundreds of ways to prepare it. While grilling and boiling are more common cooking methods, baking is also a good way to go, and bacalhau com natas (codfish with cream) is a richly flavored masterpiece. It’s not the quickest recipe to make and not offered as often as other recipes, so the dish should be pounced on when offered (well, maybe not literally).