Portugal is a beautiful country with amazing people, landscapes and cities. But if you’re like me, when you travel it’s all about trying the local food and drink.
Luckily Portuguese food does not disappoint. Sweet and savory delights await. Let’s look at seven Portuguese foods and drinks you must try!
Made of Morello cherries steeped in alcohol, ginjinha is a sweet liqueur from Lisbon and the surrounding area. Try it in one of the small shops in the Rossi district of Lisbon, here are a few of our favorite places to try it. But beware, once you try it you might get hooked!
Sweet, custard pastries that pair perfectly with a cup of coffee, Pasteis de Nata are a popular Portuguese treat. Probably the most famous ones can be found in Belem at the lovely Pasteis de Belem with their signature blue and white tiles. A strong contender for favorite is also Manteigaria. If you have a sweet tooth at all you must try these. But skip the grocery store versions. They are best fresh from the oven.
This hearty pork sandwich is not a gourmet delight. It’s more of a tummy filling street food. But man oh man is it delicious! Find your favorite bifana by visiting corner sandwich shops, delis and even some bars. Watch this short video to see what Anthony Bourdain has to say about the bifana. Hint: “that’s @$%^-ing good!”
Dried and salted codfish known as bacalhau is a staple ingredient in Portuguese cuisine. Many Portuguese dishes contain the fish, from fried croquettes to savory pastries. If you’re not a fan of fishy flavors you might not enjoy it, but we think you should at least sample this very common fare known as the “faithful friend”. Codfish is not a local catch so you won’t likely find it fresh, but be sure to try some bacalhau croquettes with a glass of Portuguese wine.
You’ve heard of port wine before of course. This specialty from the north of Portugal was invented by the Brits but is made from truly Portuguese ingredients. Wine from the Douro region is fortified with aguardente, raising the alcohol content and stopping further fermentation. Port is typically sweeter than regular wine and is commonly served after the meal with cheeses or desserts. Head to the city of Porto and go across the bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia to explore the port wine cellars and taste all the varieties from white to ruby. We have lots of tips for Porto here on our Weekend Guide. Better yet, visit Vila Nova de Gaia and then make your way from Porto to the Douro Valley region for a day trip.
A hearty stew made from kale, potatoes and sausage, caldo verde will warm you up on a cold winter evening. It’s a simple and satisfying dish that can serve a crowd. The kale is finely chopped and the potatoes are pureed to give the soup a smooth consistency. It really sticks to your ribs!
When warmer weather arrives it’s time to break out the fresh “green wines”. These are wines that are young, and can be red, white or rose. The grapes are grown in the northwest corner of Portugal. Alvarinho is one of the more popular white varietals of vinho verde. It’s the perfect type of wine to drink in the sunshine. Especially with views like the one above!
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