For many tourists, a trip to Portugal begins and ends in Lisbon, but it would be a mistake for hungry travelers to overlook Porto, the capital’s food-loving cousin to the north. The city is known for its enthusiastic eaters and prime location between the Atlantic, Douro River, and mountainous countryside, all providing abundant ingredients from both land and sea. Residents are nicknamed Tripeiros after Porto-style tripe, which comes in a rich stew of beans, sausages, and vegetables. That hearty meal still pales in comparison to the city’s other famous dish, francesinha, a humongous sandwich layered with sausage, ham, steak, and melted cheese.
Meaty stews and sandwiches may help fend off cold winter days, but they also offer an excuse for Tripeiros to gather friends and family around the table to enjoy prized recipes passed down for generations. The city has excitedly welcomed visitors from around the world, but at the same time maintained a remarkable connection to its gastronomic heritage. Many of the region’s traditional dishes can still be found at tascas, beloved corner restaurants where locals mingle at tables or stand at counters while enjoying cheap lunch deals. Even the city’s most successful modern restaurants lean on this culinary heritage, mixing modern touches with traditional ingredients and techniques.
Between the city’s seafood-focused marisqueiras, cervejarias serving petiscos (drinking snacks), and neighborhood tascas, finding a great meal couldn’t be easier. The hard part is deciding where to go first. Here are Porto’s essential dining experiences.