If you have been following along you know that I visited one of my favorite cities earlier this year – Porto, Portugal! If you have not been to Porto, its fabulous and you should plan a trip immediately! When I was in Porto, I went on one of my favorite food tours (I have done it multiple times!) called the Taste Porto Food Tour. The Taste Porto Food Tour was started by a native of Vila Nova da Gaia and he has established an amazing company. You should definitely check it out when in Porto!
When I took this tour in March, the tour started on an easy to find corner very close to the Bolhão Market. Our guide was waiting and ready to pick us up! After a brief introduction, we proceed to our first food tasting (and my favorite on the entire tour!).
A loja dos Pastéis de Chaves. Our first official tour stop was at a bakery specializing in a particular type of pastry, a Pastéis de Chaves. Pastéis de Chaves are flaky pastries with sweet or savory filling, and they are extremely delicious. Pastéis de Chaves are from the town of Chaves in Northern Portugal and a loja dos Pastéis de Chaves follows the recipe exactly! After taking this tour a few times, Pastéis de Chaves remain my favorite food on the tour!
I tried two Pastéis de Chaves, a meat-filled version and a chocolate-filled version. My favorite was the meat, but most guests preferred the chocolate. Vegetarians had a cheese-filled version!
AfterA loja dos Pastéis de Chaves, we proceeded a block or so away to a small shop inside the Bolhão Market, which is a foodie “must see.” The Bolhão Market is Porto’s oldest food market and it dates back to the 19th century. Its filled with iron-clad market stalls specific to Porto, and it is currently undergoing a renovation. Vendors have been forced to relocate to a temporary space that is not nearly as atmospheric. Since it was open on my visit, we were treated to a tour of the market before our tasting!
The inside of the market is much better than the outside view, and this is one of the reasons for the renovation! The market is two floors, and the above picture looks down to the market floor. Those tops of the market stalls are famous and particular to Porto. The market is full of fresh fruit, meat, seafood, flowers, and countless other things that one could possibly need!
After our tour of the Bolhão Market, we stopped at Wine House Bolhão, which is a shop within the Bolhão Market, for a tasting of Portuguese bread, sardines, olive oil, and wine. Spoiler alert – tinned (i.e. canned) sardines are extremely popular in Portugal and you really should not visit Portugal without trying them (although its tough…). While I do not love sardines, I did take a bite, and I will say that the olive oil and bread were excellent! We paired our sardines with a sweet wine from the Douro Valley called Moscatel do Douro and a muffin-like dessert.
Flor dos Congregados. Our third stop was a brief walk away at Flor dos Congregados, one of Porto’s oldest restaurants. The exterior of the restaurant is reminiscent of an art deco building, but the interior is a true blast from the past! Be sure to check out the details!
Flor dos Congregados serves a lot of old-school Porto specialties (such as tripe…yuck!). On our tour, I tasted Flor dos Congregados’ pork loin and cured ham sandwich and a glass of sparkling red wine! Both the pork and ham were delicious, but my favorite part of the sandwich was the bread, which was soaked in the sauce from the pork and ham. Vegetarians tasted Portugal’s famous caldo verde soup! Pro tip – if you want to have dinner hear, be sure to reserve in advance.
Café Guarany. From Flor dos Congregados, we walked down one Porto’s main streets, Avenida dos Aliados, and stopped for a coffee (or a tea) at Café Guarany, which was a departure from my previous tour! Like Flor dos Congregados, Café Guarany is an old and well-established business in Porto, having opened in 1933! My espresso was excellent and came with a lovely piece of chocolate! Spoiler alert, if you come here on your own, the below espresso and chocolate only cost €1,25!
Leitaria da Quinta do Paço. Moving on, our next stop was Leitaria da Quinta do Paço! Another Porto institution, Leitariada Quinta do Paço claims to have the oldest eclairs in Porto, and makes them in many, many flavors, from red fruits to white chocolate! We tried the lemon eclair and the chocolate eclair, each with Leitaria’s house-made whipped cream. These eclairs are always one of my favorites stops on this tour, but I can never have more than a bite or two… Like Café Guarany, Leitaria is a steal if you visit on your own, with eclairs starting around €1,50. Also, do not miss trying the whipped cream!
Taberna do Largo. The final stop on the Taste Porto Food Tour is Taberna do Largo – a quaint wine bar in historic Porto that is very photogenic!. Even if you are not on the tour, Taberna do Largo is an excellent place to have some wine, enjoy live music, and people watch. Actually, a number of tours stop here, and for good reason. Taberna do Largo is in the heart of old Porto and the food and wine are excellent.
At Taberna do Largo, we tried three wines – a Portuguese white sparkling, white, and red – and a selection of cheeses, meats, olives, bread, and lupin beans! The best part of the tasting was Portuguese sausage that was roasted over a fire right on our table! Our guide explained each tasting, and my favorite were the lupin beans – small Portuguese beans in a hard shell! This stop was a great way to end the tour.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Taste Porto Food Tours: We did the Downton Food Tour, which runs daily Tuesday – Saturday at 10:45 and 16:00. Reservations must be made online in advance. The cost is €62,00/person and includes all tastings and the tour. You can probably recreate this tour on your own, but it would be difficult and would certainly not have the same effect.
ON A BUDGET
Although its not cheap, Taste Porto Food Tours pair their food tours with lots of information about Porto and point out many “sites” throughout the tour. The amount of food provided on the tour is also sizeable and will certainly take you through lunch or dinner. In addition to food, about two glasses of wine are included in the tour.