The food in Portugal is renowned as some of the best in the world, and for those who have never tried Portuguese cuisine, let me tell you its like heaven. You might find yourself wanting to eat it every day after just a single try! This is because it is the perfect blend of many tastes, aromas, and spices…

So, if you are planning on a trip to Portugal and aren’t sure about what to eat, take a look at these 10 amazing dishes and try them out when you are there!

10 of the best food dishes to try in Portugal

1. Caldo Verde 

Caldo Verde, although it seems to be like one of the most basic soups at the first glance, it is not so, and one of the most popular foods in Portugal. It was seen in the northern parts of Portugal but now, every restaurant and hotel in Portugal serves this delicious-looking dish!

Most of Caldo Verde is made of greens; normally a dark leafy cabbage which is usually found only in Portugal is used, whereas sometimes kale or collard greens must be used as alternatives. Along with greens, you can also see that it contains sausage slices, and potatoes mixed in olive oil to give that ultimate soup. 

Usually, it is served during the winter months, but you can also see it in summer… so no matter when you decide to visit Portugal make sure to try this. 

Caldo verde - Portuguese food
Caldo Verde | @andrishering

2. Sardinhas Assadas

Sardinhas assadas, or simply grilled sardines is one of the most popular dishes in Portugal during the summertime. Usually, sardines are consumed in large quantities, with an average of 12 pounds consumed per Portuguese person per year.

There is also a sardine season in Portugal that starts on June 12th, when it is the Day of Saint Anthony or Santo António Festival which is the only time of the year that smells like sardines everywhere you go – be it a street food stall or a high-end restaurant. 

However, when considering different recipes, they are at the finest when eaten grilled, mixed with olive oil, and rice, potatoes, or fresh salad.

Food in portugal
Sardinhas Assadas | @algarve_e_portugal

3. Bacalhau

No trip to Portugal would be complete without trying one of its traditional dishes – Bacalhau or Portuguese Traditional Codfish. It is said that there are approximately 365 different recipes to prepare bacalhau, that is one recipe for each day of the year! How amazing is that?

It may seem complicated but the simplest idea of this dish is it is a dried and salty codfish, that comes in combination with other food in Portugal like casseroles and tapas. 

However, one of the most famous ways to make Bacalhau is “Bacalhau à brás”; where the codfish is mixed with an egg scramble and then cooked as thin codfish strips along with potatoes, onions, olives and topped with parsley.

Bacalhau - Food in Portugal
Bacalhau | @restaurantelapalma

4. Francesinha Sandwich

The Francesinha Sandwich is an extremely delicious sandwich that can be found everywhere in Portugal, but let me tell you that it is no ordinary sandwich.

Francesinha literally translates to “little French girl” in Portuguese, hence the dish is believed to have been brought to the country by a French immigrant! It’s fairly simple: two slices of bread are loaded with sausage, ham, and other ingredients, then melted cheese and an egg are placed on top.

It’s also served with a remarkable sauce that each restaurant creates in its own unique way. This is usually a spicy, thick tomato and beer sauce used to dip your sandwich for purposes of added flavor. It will also be presented to you with a portion of French fries. So, while this dish isn’t ideal for those watching their diet, every taste, in my opinion, is well worth the calories.

Francesinha | @rootandbone

5. Bifanas

Bifanas, which are simply known as Portuguese pork sandwiches are one of the most popular foods in Portugal and they can be found all around the country.

The savory flavored and seasoned pork in these Portuguese sandwiches are loaded into a crunchy white bread that is soft on the inside. Paprika, garlic, and white wine are among the ingredients used in the seasoning. 

It is all up to the chef to get the different flavors of the Bifana. So, you can also add eggs, bacon, tomatoes, onion, and lettuce along with the seasoned pork when making the sandwich. Usually, Bifanas are served with French fries for lunch, and with a bowl of soup for dinner to make a complete meal. But sometimes this serves as a snack and is usually served with beer or wine. 

Vendas Novas, a small village in the Alentejo region halfway between Lisbon and Evora, is believed to have created the original Bifana Portugal recipe.

Food in portugal
Bifanas | @cocooncooks

6. Duck Rice

Duck Rice or Arroz de pato as it is known by the locals is a typical Portuguese meal originating from the northern part of the country. This dish’s ingredients are all in a perfect blend to create an exquisite full meal: with rice, savory duck meat, garlic, bay leaf, port wine, or white wine.

The addition of smoked pork meat is a plus which is done to flavor the broth and a garnish makes duck rice truly unique from the other types of rice. 

However, it is usually served during special occasions or as a Sunday lunch but it can be widely found in restaurants all over Portugal. 

Portuguese duck rice
Arroz de pato | @alexdelvicio

7. Polvo à la Lagareiro

With all of the focus on dishes like bacalhau and grilled sardines, by now you should know that seafood is one of the most popular foods in Portugal. This is because there are many ways of getting seafood, making it to be on the list of top 5 in the world for seafood consumption. So, another such dish is Polvo à la Lagareiro – an octopus dish that is an all-time local favorite!

The name literally means cooking with loads of olive oil, and this is particularly true because the octopus is first baked and roasted with potatoes, then cooked well with olive oil, garlic, and coriander to bring out a mouthwatering dish.

Polvo à la Lagareiro
Polvo à la Lagareiro | @aostrabebada

8. Chicken Piri-Piri 

Another meal worth trying in Portugal is Chicken Piri-Piri. So, how did it end up in the country? Well, this is an interesting little story; Portuguese travellers who sailed through coastal African regions during the 15th and 16th centuries had discovered several new spices. Among them was a tiny but fiery chili pepper known as Piri-Piri, Peri-Peri, or “African devil”, which makes the top ingredient for the dish Chicken Piri-Piri.

Usually, it is served with French fries along with lettuce, tomatoes, and onion salad to make it a complete lunch/dinner meal. Although it started in Portugal, this dish can be found worldwide, especially at the “Nando’s” food chain restaurants. 

However, ironically there are no Nando’s here but restaurants known as “Churrascarias” that serves Chicken Piri-Piri in every residential area of the country.

Portuguese chicken piri-piri | @simplyfoodbymandy

9. Pastel de Natas

There’s no way you can go to Portugal and not try at least one Pastel de Natas because it is considered to be one of the best foods in Portugal! Also, let me warn you that once you have the taste of one Pastel de Natas, you will be so obsessed with them that you will feel like having it every day. 

These mouth-melting delicacies can be found in the pastry shops all around Portugal, but it is said to be originating from the medieval period monasteries and nunneries. 

Pastel de Natas are made with flour, butter, eggs, cinnamon, and loads of sugar. The dough is usually coated with butter, giving the shells their crunchy look. Then they are filled with egg custard so you can imagine the softness on the insides. 

Usually, they are served as a warm dessert straight out of the oven with a strong cup of Portuguese coffee, which is known as Bica in Lisbon.

Pasteis de nata | @daniela2chic

10. Porco Preto

If you like ham, the Porco Preto (black pork) from Portugal will take your breath away! This is remarkably similar to the world’s most expensive cured ham, Jamon Iberico de Bellota from Spain. 

The pigs are known as Iberico pigs in Spanish, whereas they are known as Alentejo black pigs on the Portuguese border. These pigs create outstanding Portuguese ham with unique flavors. 

As I said before, the end product is nearly identical, with the same mouth-watering texture that makes you question whether this is the tastiest black pork in the world! Most restaurants provide Portuguese black pork meals like Plumas, known simply as roasted pork shoulder.

Presunto, a dried and cured Porco Preto which is comparable to Italian prosciutto is another great option for you to try when you are in Portugal. But make sure to pair this delicious Porco Preto dish with a glass of Portuguese wine if you are planning to have it for dinner.

Food in Portugal
Porco Preto | @maria_azeitona_restaurante