The [humble] Gourmet's guide to Portugal..
related links: frango piri piri - sardines in Portimão

In a country that has such an extensive coastline, it is not surprising that the sea should be one of the main sources of its cuisine.

A note on consumer protection in restaurants;
All restaurants are by law obliged to present an official complaints book if requested to do so.

*It is not unusual to be charged a smaller amount [1-2 Euro per person] for the bread/olives/cheese served at the beginning of a meal.

Soup / Starters
Caldo verde A good meal in Portugal should always begin with a soup. Perhaps the best-known is the caldo verde (a thick soup made from shredded cabbage and potatoes), which originates from the Minho province and is generally seasoned with a sprinkling of olive-oil and a slice of chouriço [a spicy sausage].
Melão com presunto Melon and smoked ham, is a very popular and refreshing combination in the hot summer months.
Sopa da pedra A very traditional dish from the Ribatejo is the famous sopa da pedra (literally stone soup). This was invented by a monk who wanted to make a soup, but only had a stone, and so he asked in each of the houses that he visited if the people living there could give him just one more ingredient for his soup. In this way, he managed to put together enough ingredients to provide a very substantial dish.
Sopa de cação In the Alentejo, there is also the famous sopa de cação (skate soup), made from fish and bread. In this traditionally important region for wheat-growing (it is frequently referred to as the "granary of Portugal"), the lack of different food resources and general poverty proved a great test of the local inhabitants imagination. Bread was therefore used as the basic ingredient, to which aromatic herbs were then added, resulting in the extremely tasty soup.


Arroz de Marisco The Algarvean version of Paella; a rich, slightly liquid, mixture of clams, prawns and fish cooked with rice, onions, tomatoes and pepper.
Arroz do polvo Octopus stew with rice and gravy.
Bacalhau The national dish is bacalhau (dried and salted cod), which the Portuguese used to fish for regularly off the coast of far-off Newfoundland, and for which they claim to have invented 1001 different ways of cooking it. The most simple way of all is boiled with potatoes and cabbage. Bacalhau a Brás is fried salted cod with potatoes, onions, garlic, olives and eggs. This is the dish that you will find served in most Portuguese houses for the traditional Christmas Eve supper.
Bife de Atum Tuna steak, often marinated in vinegar, garlic and spices. after which it is cooked with onoins and bacon
Caldeiradas Stews [or soup] made with all kinds of different fish.
Cataplana This is the name of the tightly clamped copper vessel used for cooking a variety of different dishes. The cataplana seals all the flavour in and is ceremoniously opened at your table releasing a cloud of steam. The base is most often a stew of clams, sausage, ham, onions, garlic, chili and herbs. Some restaurants offer up to a dozen different cataplana versions, using combinations of pork, chicken, lobster, monkfish, shellfish and prawns; Ameijoas na Cataplana, [clams], mexilhões [mussels] or the various crustaceans.
Freshwater fish There are many interesting freshwater fish from the rivers, such as Lampreia (lamprey-eel, cooked with rice), truta (trout) from the mountains of Serra da Estrela or sável (shad) from the Ribatejo region.
Grilled fish Most fish are simply grilled over a charcoal brazier. If you prefer a lighter dish, try salmonete (mullet), dourada (gilthead) or linguado (sole).
Preço Variavel* Please be careful ordering when you see a kilo price advertised! Many dishes are sold by weight and can thus result in an unexpectedly expensive meal. To be safe you should always ask to se the fish before ordering and enquire about the weight [peço]
Sardinha assada Sardinha assada (grilled sardines), which are to be found all summer round at practically every popular festivity from the north to the south of Portugal. see also Sardines in Portimão


Bife a Portuguesa Grilled sirloin steak
Bife na frigideira Is not what you might think. Frigideira is a frying pan. This meal consists of a well done steak in wine sauce.
Bitoque Beefsteak with a fried egg on top is a dish that is most popular amongst the Portuguese. You will find it almost everywhere and there are some restaurants that have added a special sauce.
Cabrito assado no forno Oven-roast kid is the dish traditionally served at family gatherings at Easter time.
Caldeirada de cabrito A casserole of lamb or kid with onions, tomatoes and potatoes.
Chanfana Lamb stewed in red wine.
Coelho Assado Rabbit marinated in vinegar, onions and spices - roasted.
Cozido à portuguesa One of the most traditional dishes is Cozido à portuguesa (a stew made from boiled pork, beef, vegetables and various kinds of sausages).
Ensopado de borrego Lamb-stew from the northern Alentejo region.
Espetada mista Kebab; beef, pork and mutton grilled on a stick.
Feijoada Pork and bean stew.
Frango Piri Piri Grilled chicken flavoured with chili oil - see frango piri piri
Frango de churrasco Also grilled chicken.
Leitão assado da Bairrada Roast suckling pig.
Smoked meats e.g. presunto (ham), chouriço [a spicy sausage] paio [pork fillet] and salpicão sausages.

Cooking terms

Assado: roasted
Cozido: boiled
Estufado: braised
Grelhado: grilled
Na brasa: charcoal grilled
No forno: oven baked
Bem passado: well done
Mal passado: rare