The Ultimate Foodie’s Guide to Eating and Drinking in Porto
One of the truly underrated culinary capitals of Western Europe, Portugal offers a wide range of restaurants to fit just about any taste level. Porto, the nation's second-largest city, is teeming with hidden gems and watering holes that serve everything from fresh-caught Atlantic seafood, regional wines, and other world-class, traditional Iberian cuisine.
Boasting Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as a rich, pulsating street food scene (ideal for when you're looking for something deliciously unique on the go), and a vibrant culture of wine and spirits, Porto has plenty of amazing food and drink options available. Thinking of giving this incredible region a try? Start with this list of the absolute best places to wine and dine in Porto.
The Beginner’s Day
Porto, which, quite simply, is Portuguese for “port” (or “harbor”), can also be considered a sort of whimsical nod to the wine that, like the food, makes this city such a fantastic destination for gourmands and historians alike.
As you plant your feet firmly on the Luis I Bridge, which spans the Douro River at Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank to the downtown city of Porto, it's easy to get caught up in the breathtaking scenery and natural wonder on display before you. A colorful array of buildings and quaint houses dot the scenescape, while the Duoro Valley offers lush greenery as far as the eye can see. Porto is a city meant to be experienced on foot. The hilly regions and curiously picturesque streets make for fantastic walking opportunities –– which is great because walking tends to build hearty appetites. And once you’re hungry, you’ll need somewhere to go to eat.
Must-Try Local Cuisine
There are dishes in Porto that should be tried, and then there are dishes that absolutely must be tried. And the one that falls into the latter category is the Francesinha –– a sandwich unlike just about any other in all of Portugal. This gargantuan local delicacy, just like a Croque Monsieur, is one of the region's best-kept secrets: featuring succulent layers of pork, steak, and ham, topped with tomatoes and melted cheese, then drizzled with beer gravy and sandwiched between two generous slices of bread, the Francesinha is an original Porto creation that eats like a meal, and then some. Reach for the modest, yet equally fulfilling, half-order if you’re only a little hungry.
And one of the best spots to pick up a Francesinha sandwich –– served with a side of fries and paired perfectly with a cold Cerveja –– can be found at Cervejaria Brasao Aliados, a popular local hotspot for fantastic, fast eats.
Try: Cervejaria Brasao Aliados
Another popular local delicacy is the mouth-watering Prego sandwich, which typically consists of finely seasoned steak, grilled onions, cheese, and mustard. Each bistro prepares its pregos differently, but it should always be stacked with an array of fresh ingredients, and the meat should be cooked to a medium rare –– so that it’s quite pink in the center –– and paired with a piquant sauce for dipping if you’re so inclined. Prego sandwiches are readily available at street vendors or in restaurants. And one of the best spots in Porto for sitting down to a meaty prego is Pregar, a fantastic, laid-back eatery that serves casual lunch and dinner fare in a charming hideaway near the seafront, not far from Sao Bento station.
Michelin Starred Restaurants and Fine Dining
If fine dining is a must-try on your menu, you should consider three of Porto’s best restaurants –– all of which have been heavily recommended by the famed Michelin Guide for the last few years in a row.
One of the most prestigious restaurants in all of Porto, this elegant space, nestled in an architectural heritage house in the historical Foz neighborhood, Pedro Lemos was the city's first establishment to receive a Michelin star. Since then, it has lived up to its gastronomic reputation as a destination for flavors and seasonally sourced ingredients. And many of the bottles in the on-site wine cellar are positively iconic.
Start with: Pedro Lemos
Located scenically in the center of the Crystal Palace Gardens, next to the Museo Romantico and overlooking the River Douro, this consistently starred restaurant (among other awards) features a menu of stunning visual and culinary creations that have to be seen to be believed. Settle into a sumptuous plate of seasonal fare, paired musically with a glass or bottle of local wine, and take in the sights of the city.
Check out: Antiqvvm
The Gastronomic Restaurant at the Yeatman Hotel
Not only has this fantastic restaurant earned a Michelin star for its inventive menu of culinary creations, but it’s also housed within one of Porto’s most exquisite hotels. Situated on the hillside of Vila Nova de Gaia, the luxurious interiors within this chic space complement the exterior views –– especially if you’re lucky enough to secure a table on the outdoor terrace. Chef Ricardo Costa uses local ingredients to assemble his legendary tasting menu, which must be tried with a local wine pairing.
Check out: The Gastronomic Restaurant at the Yeatman Hotel
DOP by Riu Paula
Truly one of the most unforgettable dining experiences to be had in Porto is at this restaurant –– one of three owned and operated by the area’s most acclaimed chef, Riu Paula, who uses modern flair and traditional ingredients to hand-create classic Portuguese cuisine in a relaxed, quiet and informal environment.
The originality and dedication Paula incorporates into his tasting menus are well known throughout the region. This sophisticated approach to gastronomy has earned him and his eateries significant praise over the years, and the menu at DOP is no exception. Take a seat on the terrace and sip some local wine or spirits while overlooking the city center.
Try: DOP by Riu Paula
It wouldn’t be a foodie’s guide to Porto without some dedicated space for seafood. Some of the finest, fresh-caught fish in the area can be found at many of these hidden gems.
Just north of the city, along the coastline, in beautiful Matosinhos, is the popular Sao Valentim –– arguably the best seafood restaurant in the region. Simplistic and evocative, the menu here is second to none: select your seafood choice, and it’s then grilled or seared to perfection with just a sprinkling of salt and a dash of olive oil. The results are astounding. Pair with comfortable vegetable sides and a fine bottle of white Portuguese wine.
Try: Sao Valentim
While you’re in the Matosinhos neighborhood, this equally fine seafood spot looks and feels like a well-kept secret. And that’s because it is. Just about everything on the menu was likely caught that day –– hours before it arrives on your plate.
Try: Os Lusiadas
Try the Wine
World of Wine (WOW)
For those interested in Porto's exceptional wine culture, a definite visit must be paid to the newly minted World of Wine (WOW), a massive museum-type hybrid complex that spent years under development and construction before it was originally planned to open in 2020 –– at the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As restrictions have lessened throughout the country, attendance has grown. And for good reasons: the building is awe-inspiring, situated on repurposed land with the main entrance that's accessible via an elevated piazza that also happens to house two of the facility's numerous restaurants. Set against a swath of sweeping views of the region, mouth-watering aromas from the various local kitchens fill the air. It's truly something to experience.
Not only is Porto's wine history on display throughout WOW, but so too is the history of the city proper. Cuisine and culture, but also presentations on local textiles, fashion, and confectionary –– many of the exhibitions are interactive, including one that offers visitors the chance to meander around the inside of a large installation of a wine grape.
Wine Quay Bar
Located on the Porto-side along the magnificent waterfront, this exceptional space for sipping all kinds of flavorful wines is great for concluding any trip to Porto, as the chilled atmosphere and other-worldly views will remind you of the magic that exists throughout the city.
Pull up to an outdoor table against the water’s edge and muse about your vacation from the comforts of the friendly, intimate alfresco patio. For lighter meals or early evening get-togethers, they also have a solid tapas menu for small bites.
Try: Wine Quay Bar
The reasons to visit Porto, Portugal's best-keep culinary secret, are many. In fact, you could settle in and experience the area for weeks and still find something brand new to see, do, and definitely eat, just about every day. While there are plenty of options to satisfy any foodie, the local fare, including the city's incredible history of wine and winemaking, makes it a must-try. So, what are you waiting for? Plan your PLAY flight today and set off to this once-in-a-lifetime food-favorite destination.