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A traditional Portuguese meal is a bug, lusty affair involving several courses. There are many regional variations and specialities. However, there is one food in particular which unites the national palate – bacalhau (salted cod) – and there are many ways to prepare it such as Gomes de Sa (in layers with diced potatoes, onion, olives and hard-boiled egg) and Conde de Guarda (with creamed mash potatoes and cabbage). Many Portuguese meals begin with a bowl of steaming soup. One to look out for is caldo verde – cabbage shredded finely and flavoured with garlic sausage.
Fish and seafood are much favoured and abundantly available in these coastal towns. Camaroes (shrimp), gambas (prawns), sapateira (giant hairy crab) and lagosta (lobster) are all wonderful, though perhaps a little pricey. Just make sure that any seafood is fesca (fresh), not congelada (frozen).
Port is Portugal’s most famous liquid export. In Vila Nova de Gaia, opposite Porto, it is available for tasting free of charge in the many shippers houses. Let your taste buds explore the many different styles of Port; the aperitif, dry white port; light, amber-coloured tawny, made from wines up a century old blended with fresh young wine; rich, full-bodied ruby port; and finally vintage port, declared only in exceptionally good years, bottled after two years, matured in black bottles, and the flagship of every shipper’s range.
Read more on this destination in the AA KeyGuide to Portugal.
Recommended restaurants in Porto
Filha da Mae Preta, Cais da Ribeira 40 - Richly atmospheric and milady raunchy restaurant on the quayside. If you are brave enough to risk trying tripas a Portuguesa (tripe with beans), this is the best place to do it.
Ora Viva, Rua Fonte Taurina 83 - Quaint restaurant one street back from the riverside. The menu concentrates on seafood.
Portucale, Rua da Alegria 598 - Superb views can be enjoyed from the penthouse plus top-notch international cuisine and modern interpretations of traditional dishes.
Postigo do Carvao, Rua Fonte Taurina 24-34 - Traditional bacalhau (salted cod) and seafood with rice are specialities here along with other Portuguese dishes. There’s regular live music.
Taverna de Bebobos, Cais da Ribeira 24-25 - Traditional Porto and Minho far down on the quayside. A long established restaurant , but now very popular with tourists.