trio of dipping sauces and bread at a restaurant in Porto, Portugal

exploring ethnic restaurants in porto

(Last Updated On: March 10, 2021)

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I don’t know about you guys, but one of my absolute favorite aspects of travel is the FOOD! Whether it’s pasta carbonara in Rome, tapas in Barcelona, or wiener schnitzel in Vienna – NOTHING compares to the flavors and authenticity of the local cuisine in a new place.

PORTUGAL TRAVEL RESOURCES

But what happens when you’re in Paris and can’t possibly stomach another croque monsieur or soupe a l’oignon? I sometimes find myself bored of the local cuisine, regardless of how delicious it may be. Big cities know that foreigners want to taste the local food, and many restaurants will just have their own variation of the same menu items, thus making for a very monotonous foodie experience.

seeking out the best ethnic restaurants in porto

I’ve discovered that one of the best (not to mention, most underrated) ways to bypass this culinary stagnation is to find the best ethnic cuisine in your destination. So, how can you tell what’s going to be legit and what will very likely be absolute crap?

Do a little research and figure out what other countries have ties to your destination. If you’re in Western Europe, those ties will most likely be through colonialism. I decided to use this strategy when looking up restaurants in Porto for my latest trip to Portugal. Don’t get me wrong – Portuguese food is BOMB. But it can be heavy for me at times, which makes me feel weighted down while traveling.

Here’s an itinerary for a day in Porto on a budget!

Want to explore other Portuguese cities? Check out this two-week itinerary for Portugal that covers the entire length of the country! If you’re not flying in to Porto, chances are you’ll be entering the country via Lisbon. If you have a couple of days to spare, 3 days in Lisbon provides a good overview of Portugal’s capital city.

Portugal had numerous colonies in Africa, as well as India, Brazil, and others. After I’d established the connection between the countries, I then did a Google search for the best African and Brazilian restaurants in Porto. In my experience, you can find super-authentic and delicious options this way, and best of all – they’re often hole-in-the-wall type places that aren’t saturated with tourists.

background info – europe branches out

Beginning during the Age of Discovery and continuing into the Scramble for Africa, there were a number of Western European nations that began to seek out trade routes & new lands to explore. Many of these nations established colonies in the newly discovered areas, especially around the African coast and India.

These colonies resulted in the importation of European languages to the natives of the region. Eventually, these nations re-gained their independence. Afterwards, a number of natives relocated to the home country of their former colonial powers. This was due in part to greater opportunities, but also, a shared language.

african restaurants in porto

I really really REALLY love African cuisine – I think it has something to do with the spice levels and unique flavors. So when seeking out restaurants in Porto, I knew I wanted to experience a truly authentic African meal.

I’m so stoked I found this place! You start a meal here with bread and a trio of dipping sauces – xvoo & balsamic (yeah, I know, whatever), a chutney-like dip of mashed onions and cilantro and hot peppers, and a spicy chili paste. While I obviously didn’t eat at every restaurant in the city, this one might very well be the best restaurant in Porto.

We ordered chicken curry with coconut and a grilled prawn appetizer to split. Not only was the chicken absolutely phenomenal – fork tender, melt in your mouth – but the tenderness allowed you to sop up so much of that flavorful curry broth with each bite. The prawns were also awesome, but took a lot of work to get into them, haha. The tenderness and consistency was totally worth it, though.

Not only was the food here superb, but some of the friendliest service I have EVER experienced. There were two people running the front of the house, and while the volume of the restaurant may have overwhelmed the average person, their service flowed like a dance. Gracious, hospitable, and, most important, super-friendly.

Rua das Taipas 113, 4050-600 Porto, Portugal

Average price: €15 (per person, drinks not included)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit other African restaurants in Porto, but here are a few more:

campo alegre – compadre (angola)

Menu specialties: codfish rice with alentejana with coriander and poached egg, cod loin with lagareiro, coentrada cacao, shrimp curry in Angola, old Portuguese duck rice, pork ribs black with migas alentejana or even the muamba de hen.

R. do Freixo 1732 4300-215 Porto, Portugal

Average price: €17 (per person, drinks not included)

morabeza boavista (cabo verde)

This restaurant boasts both Portuguese and Cabo Verdean traditional dishes. Not only does the menu look intriguing, but this place looks like it’s got good vibes as well! Be sure someone at your table tries the cachupa, the national dish of Cabo Verde (pictured below).

Rua Nossa Senhora de Fatima 495, Porto 4050-428, Portugal

Average price: €20 (per person, drinks not included)

brazilian restaurants in porto

salve simpatia

A quick Google search will reveal that there are a LOT of Brazilian restaurants in Porto. I chose the best rated – Salve Simpatia. While not a traditional Brazilian steakhouse, there’s no way I could complain about the caliber of food served at SS.

At Salve Simpatia, we ordered Moqueca de Peixe com Camarão – a traditional fish stew with shrimp, peppers, onions, spices, and coconut served with rice and farofa. Farofa is fried cassava flour, which is usually sprinkled over rice and beans. It had a good flavor, and also added a nice crunch to balance out the consistency & texture of the dish. Yum!

We also ordered Picanha, which is a steak served with rice, beans, farofa, fries, and fried garlic. The steak was tender, flavorful, and cooked to a perfect med-rare.

An utterly satisfying meal, I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to Brazilian food. AND! Our server came over and asked if we’d like hot sauce – OF COURSE! And he brought us this:

HO. LY. SHIT. First of all, let me tell you – I am no wuss when it comes to spicy food. The hotter, the better. I literally only dipped my fork into this stuff, taking up some of the oil. Once I tasted it, my lips immediately started burning. This lasted for a good 10 minutes (it didn’t stop me from mixing it in with the rice and beans, though – hah!).

For the life of me, I cannot figure out what this stuff was. The closest thing I came to was thisMolho de Pimento, but I’m not convinced. Anyone know what this could be? Oil base with chilis, ground and whole, and some other spices. So hot, but so good!

Rua da Picaria 89 4050-478 Porto, Portugal

Average price: €18 (per person, drinks not included)

Here are some other Brazilian restaurants in Porto that I didn’t get the chance to visit:

art da picanha

Restaurant specializing in Rodízio, traditional Brazilian steakhouse featuring white linen tables and prime meat selections. A little higher end if that’s what you’re looking for!

Estrada da Circunvalação, 3782 4435-186 Porto, Portugal

Average price: €35 (per person, drinks not included)

dona picanha

Another restaurant specializing in Rodízio, with interesting specialties such as cheese bread and fried purple sweet potato. After checking out the menu, I’m bummed I didn’t check this place out. Now it’s on you to go and report back! Hah!

R. do Padre Luís Cabral, 1086 4150-096 Porto, Portugal

Average price: €30 (per person, drinks not included)

capim dourado

Come here for seafood, steaks, and caipirinhas! They also have Samba & Bossa Nova! Not to mention, great ambiance (if their Instagram is any indication)!

Rua de Cedofeita 322 4050-126 Porto, Portugal

Average price: €25 (per person, drinks not included)

and, just for good measure, some noteworthy portuguese foods to try when exploring restaurants in porto

pastéis de nata

Yum, yum, yum. These delightful little treats are everything one could ask for in a pastry – crisp & delicately flaky crust, smooth & rich eggy custard. They are baked until the top gets pretty dark, almost like a crème brûlée that’s acceptable to eat for breakfast! How perfect! Find these little delights from a nearby bakery on almost any street in Porto.

francesinha

OK, so, before heading to Porto, I’d read that these bad boys were the ultimate hangover food. Well. I tried one on just such an occasion. The verdict? It was personally way too much for me. The interesting flavor of the beer sauce combined with all that meat almost made my hangover worse.

But, it’s a specialty here in Porto, so you’ve gotta try it! It’s essentially a mystery meat sandwich, smothered in melted cheese, soaked in beer sauce, topped with a fried egg and served with a heaping plate of fries.

caldo verde

This ultimate Portuguese kale soup is a staple of families & avós as well as party-goers and New Years Eve celebrations around the country. This seemingly simple soup is a base of potatoes and garlic, combined with kale and chunks of chouriço or linguiça. Since its ingredients are fairly basic and available in most of the world, it’s definitely worth making at home, as well!

Try your hand at making caldo verde with this recipe!

map of ethnic restaurants in porto

Here’s a map of the aforementioned restaurants! Since everything in Porto is super close, most of the city can easily be traversed on foot. Happy eating!

douro river valley day trip from porto

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Planning a trip soon? Here are some common mistakes you can avoid while traveling abroad!

4 thoughts on “exploring ethnic restaurants in porto”

  1. Agree so much about figuring out which ethnic restaurants to go to. Look for the international ties. We’re finding really good Chinese food here in Ghana because of all the investment they’re doing. Not historic, but accurate. Fried rice wasn’t on the menu when I was here in 2003.

    Your post makes me want to have a loooonnng layover in Portugal, by the way. Yum!

  2. Such a mouth-watering post even if I am vegetarian haha! I want to go to Porto so badly and I didnt know it has African restaurants! I love African cuisine too!

  3. What a wonderful post! I love your perspective on finding other ethic food, I might need to try that now. I’m hoping to visit Portugal later this year so I took some notes! ????

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