The Food of Portugal: Top Ten Traditional Dishes to Eat



Portuguese cuisine is a delightful blend of flavors, influenced by centuries of trade, exploration, and cultural exchange. From fresh seafood to hearty stews, Portugal’s culinary landscape reflects the country’s rich history and diverse regional traditions. Here are ten traditional dishes that capture the essence of Portuguese gastronomy and are a must-try for any food lover visiting the country.

The Food of Portugal: Top Ten Traditional Dishes to Eat-

Bacalhau à Brás

Description: Bacalhau à Brás is a beloved Portuguese dish made with salted cod (bacalhau), onions, potatoes, eggs, and olives. The cod is shredded and sautéed with onions and garlic, then mixed with scrambled eggs and shoestring potatoes.

Why Try It: This comforting and flavorful dish showcases Portugal’s love affair with bacalhau, a staple ingredient in Portuguese cuisine, and is a perfect example of the country’s rustic yet sophisticated culinary style.


Description: Feijoada is a hearty bean stew made with black beans, various cuts of pork, including sausage, bacon, and sometimes beef or other meats. It’s simmered with onions, garlic, and spices until the flavors meld together into a rich and satisfying dish.

Why Try It: Feijoada is Portugal’s answer to comfort food, often enjoyed as a communal meal with family and friends. It’s a delicious way to experience the country’s love for slow-cooked, soul-warming dishes.

Pastéis de Bacalhau

Description: Pastéis de Bacalhau are Portuguese codfish cakes made with salted cod, potatoes, onions, and parsley, shaped into small balls or patties, then deep-fried until golden and crispy.

Why Try It: These savory snacks are a quintessential part of Portuguese cuisine, often enjoyed as a petisco (appetizer) or served alongside a salad for a light meal. The combination of crispy exterior and tender, flavorful filling is simply irresistible.

Caldo Verde

Description: Caldo Verde is a traditional Portuguese soup made with kale, potatoes, onions, garlic, and thinly sliced chorizo or Portuguese smoked sausage. It’s simmered until the flavors meld together, resulting in a hearty and nourishing dish.

Why Try It: Caldo Verde is a comforting and nutritious soup that showcases the simplicity and elegance of Portuguese home cooking. It’s often enjoyed year-round but is particularly popular during the colder months.


Description: Francesinha is a decadent Portuguese sandwich originating from Porto, made with layers of cured meats, such as ham, linguiça, and steak, sandwiched between slices of bread, topped with melted cheese, and smothered in a spicy tomato and beer sauce.

Why Try It: This indulgent sandwich is a carnivore’s dream come true and a testament to Portugal’s love for bold flavors and hearty portions. It’s often served with french fries and a fried egg on top for extra indulgence.

Arroz de Marisco

Description: Arroz de Marisco is a traditional Portuguese seafood rice dish made with a variety of shellfish, such as clams, mussels, shrimp, and crab, cooked with rice, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and aromatic herbs and spices.

Why Try It: This aromatic and flavorful dish highlights Portugal’s bountiful coastline and the abundance of fresh seafood available in the country. It’s a celebration of the sea, best enjoyed with a glass of crisp Portuguese white wine.

Pasteis de Nata

Description: Pasteis de Nata, also known as Portuguese custard tarts, are small, creamy pastries made with a flaky puff pastry crust and a rich, egg custard filling, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Why Try It: These iconic pastries are a symbol of Portuguese culinary excellence and are beloved by locals and visitors alike. Whether enjoyed fresh out of the oven or paired with a cup of coffee, Pasteis de Nata are a delightful treat for any occasion.

Cataplana de Marisco

Description: Cataplana de Marisco is a traditional Portuguese seafood stew cooked in a cataplana, a hinged copper or aluminum pot resembling a clamshell. It typically contains a variety of shellfish, fish, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and aromatic herbs and spices.

Why Try It: This flavorful and aromatic stew is a celebration of Portugal’s coastal cuisine and is often enjoyed as a communal meal with family and friends. The cataplana cooking method ensures that the flavors are sealed in, resulting in a truly memorable dish.

Carne de Porco à Alentejana

Description: Carne de Porco à Alentejana is a classic Portuguese dish from the Alentejo region, made with tender cubes of pork marinated in garlic, paprika, and white wine, sautéed with clams, onions, and potatoes.

Why Try It: This surf-and-turf combination is a flavorful and satisfying dish that perfectly balances the richness of the pork with the brininess of the clams. It’s a delicious representation of Portugal’s regional cuisine and culinary heritage.

Sardinhas Assadas

Description: Sardinhas Assadas are grilled sardines, a quintessential Portuguese dish enjoyed throughout the country, especially during the summer months when sardines are in season. The fish are seasoned with sea salt and grilled over an open flame until tender and flavorful.

Why Try It: Grilled sardines are a symbol of Portuguese culinary tradition and a testament to the country’s close connection to the sea. Whether enjoyed at a seaside tavern or a traditional festa, Sardinhas Assadas are a delicious and iconic taste of Portugal.

From savory stews to sweet pastries, the traditional dishes of Portugal offer a tantalizing journey through the country’s culinary heritage. Whether you’re exploring bustling markets, quaint taverns, or fine dining establishments, be sure to savor these iconic flavors and indulge in the rich tapestry of Portuguese cuisine.