Porto & Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia are two towns that straddle either side of the Douro River. They are often thought as one town, and they do flow together as if one community, but technically they’re two different towns. Porto is made famous by the wine of it’s namesake, Port. Porto is an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Food and Restaurant Suggestions

There are many dishes that are a “must try” when visiting Portugal that can be found all over the town or even country. Just how it would be impossible to narrow down one hamburger that a tourist in the USA must have, it would be hard to narrow down a specific restaurant to try any of those iconic dishes. So with that said, this list is going be more food item oriented instead of restaurant oriented.

Pastéis de Nata

These little things are why a foodie goes to Portugal. They are everywhere and you will eat them every day. Imagine a sweet and flaky croissant like pie crust with a custardy crème brûlée type filling, then dusted with powdered sugar and/or cinnamon, and served warm. That’s the best way I can describe Pastéis de Nata.

Bifana @ Conga

Bifana is a classic Portuguese sandwich that must be tried when in Porto. It is to Portugal what the cheesesteak is to Philadelphia. A bifana sandwich is sliced pork on a kaiser type roll with a gravy on it. It’s delicious, cheap, filling and will make your day when you bite into it. The King of Bifana sandwiches is Conga.


Rua do Bonjardim, 314-318, Porto 4000-115 Portugal


Francesinha is a Portuguese sandwich dish that originated in the city of Porto. The name “Francesinha” means “Little Frenchie” or “Little French Lady” in Portuguese. It is a hearty and indulgent sandwich that consists of layers of cured meats, such as ham and linguiça (a type of sausage), as well as steak or roast meat. The sandwich is typically covered with melted cheese and a thick, spicy tomato and beer sauce.

You can find these heart attach inducing sandwiches at restaurants all around Porto. We think it’s worth a try.

We enjoyed our in Vila Nova de Gaia at Tempêro d’Maria. It’s worth noting, that this is a VERY hearty dish; we split one. Tempero d’Maria has a great menu if this isn’t your thing.

Pastéis de Bacalhau (Codfish Croquettes)

Pastéis de Bacalhau, also known as Portuguese codfish cakes or codfish fritters, are a popular Portuguese snack or appetizer made from codfish. These tasty treats are made by mixing shredded salted codfish with mashed potatoes, eggs, parsley, and sometimes onions. The mixture is then shaped into small cakes or croquettes and deep-fried until they are crispy and golden brown.

These delicious snacks are a beloved part of Portuguese cuisine and are often enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or even as a main course when served with a salad.

Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau sits among the port wine cellars on the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the river. The building is almost an attraction in and of itself. It boasts a pipe organ and employees demonstrating how to make the cod cakes. It’s very commercialized and cheesy, but made for a quick afternoon snack and some light entertainment.

Sardines and Fresh Fried Fish

Port Wine

Port Wine is named for Porto, Portugal. Port wine is the wine that’s made and aged in the port wine cellars across the river from Porto in the town called Vila Nova de Gaia. No trip to Porto can be complete without walking across the Dom Luís I Bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia and checking out at least one port wine cellars and tasting. We did two.

The first one was the Burmester. We did this for one reason only. We were stuck in a down pour with no umbrella and it was the first wine cellar you get to when you cross the bridge. We went in to escape the rain and decided to sign up for a tour. Unfortunately for us, the next English speaking tour was hours away, we so opted to take a Spanish tour. Despite only having a basic level of Spanish language speaking skills, I was able to takeaway the highlights and translate much of what the tour guide was saying to my wife.

The next stop took us to Quevedo. Quevedo is more of a tasting room and not a cellar with a tour like Burmester. You can pop in at anytime and order a glass or port or a tasting. It’s more like going up to and ordering from a bar, than a scheduled tour, so this would be a good option if you didn’t make plans, or have some extra time to fill.

Port Wine Tasting at Burmester
Port Wine Tasting at Quevedo
The inside of the 2nd floor at Quevedo