In northern Portugal you can choose between regional dishes based on fresh fish, seafood and salted codfish, but also meat dishes that include barrosã veal, meat from the maronesa or mirandesa cow breed, goat, duck, pork, chicken, sausages and dry-cured ham.
The northern seacoast presents dishes based on fish like sardines, cod and seafood, in places like Matosinhos, Leça, Póvoa de Varzim or Viana do Castelo. Recipes such as grilled octopus, mussels “à bulhão pato” and fish pasta are very common.
Other dishes, such as the traditional “caldo verde”, cod “à lagareiro”, firewood oven roasted goat, grilled sardines and duck rice with bacon, are also regularly served all along the northern seacoast.
In the Minho region, a chilled young wine – red or white – is the most appropriate wine to be served alongside these fish and seafood plates. The northern interior part of Portugal is also known for its fish dishes, mainly freshwater fish, such as lamprey and trout. Deeper into Portugal’s interior, in the Trás-os-Montes area, dishes based on live game, such as “alheira”, hare rice and partridge with wild mushrooms, are unmissable. Trout from the Cávado River is excellent and the cod stew will keep you coming back for seconds and thirds. Meat such as veal, dry-cured ham from Chaves and Lamego, “alheiras” from Mirandela and “salpicão” from Vinhais are what any visitor to this region must try at least once, preferably accompanied by a glass of Douro wine.
In Oporto, be sure to sit down for a taste of the traditional “francesinha” – a hearty beef sandwich topped with cheese and a secret beer sauce – and often served to satisfy late night cravings. Cod “à Gomes Sá” or “à João do Porto”, as well as goat rice, are also familiar dishes in the city of Oporto.
In the north, desserts are delicious and traditional: creme brulé, Abade de Priscos pudding, sweet rice, "cristas de galo” de Vila Real (a delicate cream filled pastry), “rabanadas com ovos moles” (a sort of french toast, topped with a egg yolk and sugar coating) and Oporto wine are just a part of everyday life as they are of more festive moments.
In Lisbon, Portuguese gastronomy is more cosmopolitan, seeing as new chefs and author’s cuisine restaurants bloom with each passing day. In the country’s capital you’ll taste traditional Portuguese flavors – piglet, fresh fish, cod with everything, preserved fish, seafood – but with a modern twist!
Dishes such as snails, beef topped with a fried egg, mackerel, fish soup and seafood “açorda” are also very popular in this region. In general, whether you make a reservation at an author’s cuisine restaurant or at a traditional Portuguese eatery, you won’t be disappointed!
And you cannot come to Lisbon and not taste the world famous “pastel de Belém”, a small, delicious custard tart, whose secret has never been revealed; or a Santini ice cream, located in the Chiado neighborhood where, every day, hundreds of people flock for a delicious scoop or two.
In the Cascais and Sintra area, be sure to taste the local fresh fish and dishes such as “migas à pescador”, limpets, grilled mussels, mussels with onions and cod “açorda”, topped off with delicious Sintra pastries such as “queijadas” or “travesseiros”, “pena tarts” or nuts from Colares.
In this area, you’ll find wine from all around Portugal, but all of them are exceptional, especially those from the Estremadura region, that are ideal for enjoying with any local fish or meat dish.
Bread, fish, pork and olive oil are the base of one of Portugal’s most savory cuisines, all of which are always superbly aromatized with fresh herbs. In Alentejo, soup is always one of the table’s stars: gazpacho, squalus soup and tomato with red sausage soup are some of the most popular.
Delicious bread crumbs (“migas”) – a typical Alentejo staple – are served with pork, lamb stew or in the simple and traditional Alentejo “açorda”. In Estremoz, Évora or Beja you’ll not only find these dishes, but also many other recipes that involve live game, another typical Alentejo cuisine ingredient.
If you’re the type of couple who enjoys a relaxing and great meal, shared over a wonderful bottle of wine, than this is the right place for you. Here, dishes that include such delicacies as “açordas”, sausages, fish soup, “migas”, stewed rabbit, fried hare, woodcock, mussels “à bulhão pato”, squalus soup, pennyroyal and egg soup… will create a banquet worthy of the gods… and all you have to do is sit down and eat!
In Alentejo there are two other delicacies that must be savored: cheese and conventual sweets. Some of the best local cheeses come from Nisa, Serpa and Évora… and are the perfect excuse to open a bottle of the famous Borba, Redondo, Reguengos or Vidigueira wine.
Because Alentejo’s past is full of convents and nuns who dedicated some of their spare time to creating heavenly sweets, the result are decadent egg, sugar and almond desserts such as: “encharcada”, “sericaia”, “bolo podre” (an olive oil based cake), almond cake, “queijadas” (cheese tarts), “filhós”, “tibornas” (pastries with an almond and squash filling), “mimosas” from Crato, “cavadas” from Avis, among many other sweet temptations.
The quality and variety of fish and seafood in this region are world-renowned and Algarve is known for its delicious fish, outstanding oranges and sumptuous sweets. After a day at the beach or golfing, fish soup, tomato soup, seafood and bean stew, monkfish rice, octopus rice, fish cataplana, Algarve-style oysters, octopus baked with spareribs, baked sea-bream and lemon-infused squid, are some of the local dishes that you’ll find on menus everywhere.
If you have a sweet tooth, then you’re in the right place because sugar is a star ingredient around here! Satisfy your cravings with almond cake, squash cake, almond or fig “morgados”, “don rodrigos”, meringues and “fios de ovos” ("egg threads").
To top off such an exquisite meal, a chilled "medronho” or bitter almond liquor is the tastiest way to ease digestion!
The perfect menu, for a perfect romantic dinner with the stunning Portuguese sunset as your backdrop…
With its unique and welcoming geographic layout, Madeira has an equally characteristic and flavorful cuisine: on an island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, it is only fit that the archipelago’s savory fish and seafood stand out.
The black scabbardfish filet or the tuna steak, served with crispy fried corn, is out of this world! But there’s more: salted mackerel, pickled tuna, delicious octopus and seafood, such as limpets, periwinkles (small sea snails) and many other sea delicacies, are just begging to be given a bite!
If meat is more your thing, one of the most traditional Madeira dishes are the veal kabobs on a bay-tree stick – which infuses it with an unmistakable flavor. The Madeira-style stew, the sweet potato donuts and the “Caco” cake are other dishes worth tasting.
Honey or fruit-based desserts (banana, passion flower, pineapple…) are very popular on the island, especially the honey cake, the “black” cake, the papaya pudding or the Madeira cheese tarts (“queijadas”).
The famous Madeira wine can be sipped as an appetizer; as a digestive and complementing dessert or, if you prefer, it can even be the wine of choice for the entire meal.
The Azores gastronomy is privy to some unique species of fish and seafood that can’t be found anywhere else in Portugal. A beautiful archipelago composed by nine islands, Azores boasts some of the tastiest seafood you’ve ever had – especially billet, barnacle and limpets. Dishes such as limpet rice, fish broth, fish stew, fish soup and stewed octopus are other popular delicacies.
If you prefer meat, the rump steak from the island of Terceira or the famous Furnas stew from the island of S. Miguel (tightly lidded pots and pans are placed under the hot soil which magically cooks all the ingredients) are top recommendations!
One delicacy you’ll surely find on every island are the fantastic Azores cheeses, and the one from the island of S. Jorge is definitely one of the best!
For dessert, “massa sovada” (a delicious sweet bread) is by far the most popular, followed by cheese tarts from the island of Graciosa and many other typical desserts that each island holds as its own secret recipe. The tasty, sweet and succulent Azores pineapple is another great dessert option, ideal for fruit-lovers.
Verdelho is the name of the region’s most appreciated wine, but the wine found on the island of Pico is equally toast-worthy: the island’s landscape, vastly dominated by its vibrant vines, has been classified as World Heritage.