Looking for restaurants in Porto? Want to know where to eat in Portugal’s northern city? Local food writer André Apolinário and our olive travel experts share their insider tips for the best restaurants in Porto, along with where to find the best custard tarts, sandes de pernil (pork sarnies) and port houses.
olive’s top 10 must-visits for foodies in Porto
Flor dos Congregados – for traditional tavern vibes
At Flor dos Congregados, every dish is cooked with passion. Try the terylene sandwich, a double-layered roast pork and ham affair that takes a full day to cook; or a slice of sericaia cake (a kind of egg pudding) and a glass of chilled port.
11 Travessa dos Congregados, 00 351 222 002 822
Manteigaria – for custard tarts
Fans of Lisbon’s cult custard tart shop, Manteigaria, will be pleased to know that Porto has its own branch now. Watch chefs work with spirals of butter and pastry (the kitchen walls are made entirely from glass), transforming them into crisp wheels that are then filled with cinnamon-spiked custard. Stand at the counter and down an espresso, or head to the adjoining minimalistic canteen to savour your tart with a glass of port.
R de Alexandre Braga 24, 00 351 22 202 2169
Cozinha Cabral – for date night
One of Porto’s more modern-looking restaurants, with white-washed exposed brick, clothless tables and mood lighting, Cozinha Cabral has a mix of the contemporary – monkfish chips with guacamole, crêpes with Portuguese egg cream – and the traditional (inspired by the chef’s grandmother, who lives locally). The latter is expressed in the form of spider crab croquettes and the most tender oven-roasted octopus, served at the table in the tin it was baked in, along with rice, plump with red wine, and a sticky-and-sweet layer of shredded onions.
A Casa Guedes – for sandes de pernil (Portuguese pork sandwiches)
Queue alongside locals for this traditional tavern, if only for the crunchy bread rolls stuffed with juicy roast pork leg and a one euro glass of Portuguese wine (try the ever-so-slightly-sparkling vinho verde). Perch on one of four stools at the tiled counter and watch your roll come to life: the bread is cut and filled with a thick slice of cheese, then passed down to the tavern owner, who carves the pork and heaps slices of the stuff directly into your sandwich, with plenty of roasting juices. There’s a patio around the side for sun worshippers.
Taberna do Largo – for pre-dinner drinks and snacks
At modern drinking hole Taberna do Largo, the menu takes you on a journey through Portugal via some of the country’s best small-scale producers. Local wines, cheeses, meats, olive oils and even teas are covered… order a Porto tonico while you choose.
69 Largo de São Domingos, 00 351 222 082 154
Mo-Mo Gelataria Artesanal – for ice cream
A few steps down from the university, away from the crowds queuing for a glimpse inside that Harry Potter bookshop, and looking across to the lush Jardim de João Chagas, Mo-Mo is a surprisingly inclusive, hole-in-the-wall gelato shop. Whether you’re after super smooth farm-to-cone Portuguese hazelnut, creamy cashew and Himalayan salt, or vegan banana and matcha, there’s a scoop for everyone. (And some very Instagrammable blue and white tiles just outside for that perfect shot!)
Taylor’s port house – for port
Clamber up the steep, cobble street on the Gaia side of the Douro river (accessed by crossing the Luís I bridge) to reach Taylor’s port house and its peaceful, rose-filled courtyard. Pull up a chair (mind the resident cockerel, who likes to make his voice heard occasionally) and order the Introduction to Taylor’s tasting flight – five ports ranging from simple white to easy-drinking LBV, brown tawny (popular amongst Brits) and a sought-after 20-year old vintage.
Central Conserver Invicta – for tinned fish
Portugal is famed for canned fish, and Central Conserver Invicta is the place to find it. Shelves groan with sardines, tuna, cod, mackerel, sea bass, gilt-head sea bream, eels, lamprey and mussels. Sit down to sardines in spicy tomato sauce, bread and a glass of vinho verde.
115 Rua Sá da Bandeira, 00 351 912 833 884
Cafetaria da Bolsa – for a traditional Portuguese meal
With an unassuming frontage, other than a blackboard with that day’s specials, this small, family-run restaurant is the perfect spot if you want simply cooked fish and seafood at great prices. The tiny open-plan kitchen occupies one corner of the room, and from it comes giant prawns, still in their amber coats of armour, which arrive fighting for space on giant plates alongside hunks of garlic and bay leaves. Sweet clams, clattering in their pretty ivory shells, come cooked in garlic, chopped herbs and olive oil. Try the sardines, grilled and tender, with new potatoes, grilled peppers and onions, and chips on the side (because if you can’t double carb on holiday, when can you?). And, for something a little more unusual, try the salted codfish mashed with potatoes, boiled egg, black olives and plenty of herbs.
Largo São Domingos 23, 4050-253 Porto
Rosa et Al Townhouse – for brunch and the best foodie hotel in Porto
This six-room hotel is a lesson in boutique design. Rooms blessed with original wooden floorboards, cornicing and sash windows that lead to balconies are made even more beautiful with claw-footed baths, contemporary furniture and local art. If you’ve already sorted your accommodation, it’s worth soaking up Rosa et Al’s chic and cosy vibe over brunch. 50 jars of tea (some made with herbs from the garden) cover a large serving table; you can choose your own Portuguese tinned cod or sardines; and there’s a dinky walled garden out back where you can sit around tiled tables, eating eggs with spruced-up sides and drinking freshly squeezed orange juice in the sunshine.
Other places to eat and drink in Porto
Sol e Sombra Bifanas –best bifana sandwiches in Porto
You probably won’t be able to order anything specific at this bar, perched on one of Porto’s many hills, unless you speak fluent Portuguese. But trust in the warm owner. He’ll bring you seriously cheap bifana bread roll sandwiches, filled with pork steak and cooking liquor – which simmers happily in the window, luring customers inside – flavoured with garlic, chilli and secret spices. Bacalhau (croquettes of salted cod) are pre-made and served cold, and even if you ordered a round of vinho verde (like we did), or bottles of Super Bock beer, you’d still have change from a €20 euro note. Look out for the caracóis (aka Portuguese snails), too!
Cantina 32 – best trendy bistro in Porto
This laid-back restaurant is popular among young, trendy locals, with two sittings (one at 8pm, the other at 10pm to reflect the Mediterranean way of life) around large communal tables and smaller spots for two or four people. Start with fresh, warm bread and banana butter, before diving into large terracotta sharing dishes, including roast octopus with sweet potatoes. There are modern twists on classic Portuguese plates, too – try fresh pink tuna with pineapple, seafood and chorizo stew, and cheesecakes disguised as plant pots.
Padaria Ribeiro – best bakery in Porto
Get some energy for sightseeing along Porto’s cobblestone streets with breakfast at Padaria Ribeiro, open since 1878. Order the pirilampos (little worm-shaped crunchy biscuits), or a lanche – a sandwich-like snack filled with ham, sausage and bacon.
Mercado do Bolhão – temporarily closed – best market in Porto
The 19th-century Mercado do Bolhão dazzles with fruit and veg, cured hams, regional cheeses and freshly caught fish. Take a break at Bolhão wine house and snack on smoked ham from the butcher across the hall, sardines from the nearby fishing village of Matosinhos, and a glass of Moscatel do Douro.
1 Loja, 00 351 222 009 975
O Paparico – best supper club in Porto
At O Paparico you have to knock on the door as you would at a friend’s house. Exquisite presentation and sophisticated cooking hint at Michelin aspirations, but, for now, this modern Portuguese restaurant is still something of a local secret. Try the octopus ceviche with olive oil, onion and coriander.
Olivia & Co – best olive oil in Porto
If it’s made from olives, you’ll find it at Olivia & Co in Ribeira, Porto’s UNESCO-protected historic heart. From cookies, cakes and paté to face creams, it’s all here alongside a great range of olive oils.
Tavi – best donuts an sunsets in Porto
The juxtaposition of the Douro river and the Atlantic ocean make for some spectacular sunsets, especially in the Foz district. At the Parque da Cidade, the Tavi bakery is famous for its bolas de Berlim (custard-filled donuts) and ocean-view terrace.
PROVA – best wine bar in Porto
There’s more to Portugal’s wines than port. Explore the distinct qualities of each of the country’s wine regions at PROVA bar, kicking off with a glass of dão and a carefully paired selection of cured meats.
Tascö – best pestiscos (tapas) in Porto
With its stylish décor, great music, top-notch staff and traditional Portuguese food, Tascö is wildly popular. Petiscos – tapas-like portions of larger dishes – are the thing here. Try the pataniscas (similar to a frittata, with cod or octopus), or moelas (stewed gizzards in a spicy tomato sauce).
Updated by Alex Crossley and Laura Rowe in March 2019
Written by André Apolinário in 2016
Photographs by Getty, Alex Crossley and Laura Rowe