Tasting on Porto
Porto is a treasure trove of culinary delights, not only because of its famous port wine. I tried not one, but two francesinhas. There are also less widely known local delicacies to discover, such as the sande de pernil.
The currency in Portugal is the euro (€), and at the time of writing, the exchange rate was about €0.9 to US$1. All businesses are listed from most budget-friendly to least within each category. My favorite place is marked with a .
- Coffee & drinks
- Grocery stores & farmer’s markets
Coffee & drinks
Graham’s Port Lodge
Producing some of the best port wine in the world, Graham’s offers a basic tour and tasting for €10. It is located at the top of a hill, so only those who really want to sample this exquisite port make it there. Dasha, a fellow Couchsurfing member, incidentally works there, and she was gracious enough to show me the ropes.
Grocery stores & farmer’s markets
Mercado do Bolhão
It was fun to walk through this open air market even on a rainy day. The colors are so bright and crisp! You can find produce, baked goods, and souvenirs there, including purses made of Porto’s famous cork.
Before going to a Couchsurfing meetup at a bar, I met up with Dasha and a couple of her friends there for dinner. You can get large, thin slices of pizza here for €2 each. It’s not bad for the price, but it’s definitely not gourmet pie.
Dasha recommended going to Casa Guedes to get their sande de pernil com queijo (€3.90). They are not very big, but wow, the pulled pork is tender and flavorful, the cheese is melty and pungent, and the roll is crispy and warm. Since it was morning, I also got an espresso (€0.65). The staff is so nice in an understated way.
A Sandeira do Porto
I arrived just after 15:00, which is exactly the end time of their €5 lunch special. Instead, I tried the São João (sardine sandwich) for €4.50 and red ale from Letra for €3.50.
I really enjoyed the sandwich: the bread had perfect texture, and the ingredients were very fresh. The restaurant is super small, the waitstaff speaks excellent English, and the menu is in both Portuguese and English.
This restaurant is supposedly the best spot to have Porto’s heavy francesinha sandwich. I ordered a Francesinha Santiago (€9.50) and a very full glass of delightful vinho verde (€1).
The sandwich is sausage, steak, egg, mortadella, ham, and cheese between two slices of bread. It’s surrounded by fries and special sauce made from a closely guarded recipe. Somehow, I finished the entire thing on my own even after having a sande de pernil at Casa Guedes earlier. It was indeed my favorite of the two francesinhas that I tried in Porto this time.
Verso em Pedra
My gracious Couchsurfing host Raul took me to try my first francesinha at a place near his home. We split a traditional one (€9.50 + €1 splitting fee) with fries (+ €1). Raul got beer (€1.50) with gooseberry syrup and an espresso (€1) at the end. It was very heavy, and I’m so glad we split it.
Taberninha do Manel
After I arrived in Porto from Lisbon, my Couchsurfing host Raul showed me around the river. I was pretty hungry since I didn’t have lunch, so we headed across the river to Vila Nova de Gaia, where Taberninha do Manel is located. We split a half jug of sangria (€10) and the pica-pau (€10). The sangria contained apples and oranges and was nicely refreshing.
Pica-pau was made of chopped up sausages, steak, cauliflower, and olives. It’s very comforting, especially on a rainy day like the one on which I arrived. We scooped it out of the bowl with bread.
Our waitress seemed to speak limited English, but Raul loves her because she curses like a sailor, in keeping with the locals.