As Der Spiegel quite rightfully wrote, Porto is being flooded by tourists which is phenomenal for the local economy, but it also brings its downsides, such as an up rise of tourists traps.
This is the main reason why I think it is my moral obligation to write about the few surviving traditional restaurants in Porto, hoping that you might like them as much as we do and contribute to its survival.
A few things before we dive into the amazing world of the traditional restaurants in Porto:
- Don’t expect vegetarian / vegan / gluten free options in traditional restaurants in Porto. Out of courtesy they might come up with an omelet or with a fresh salad to accommodate your dietary restrictions – but then again you will not really be taking advantage of eating in such restaurants, would you? Therefore if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, I strongly recommend you to stick to the restaurants mentioned of our Survival Guide for Vegetarians, in order to avoid having a disappoint meal.
- These are traditional restaurants in Porto, so don’t expect to find proper English menus. Instead, make sure you are patient enough to use google translator and creative communication techniques to use with the waiters!
With this in mind, it’s time to unveil the best traditional restaurants in Porto:
Rua da Picaria, 85
I’ve been going to Ernesto since I am a little girl, to eat hake fillets with my family. In fact, Ernesto is one of the few Portuguese restaurants that has been part of the families from Porto from generation to generation.
The restaurant’s menu consists of the traditional Portuguese flavours couple with daily dishes that depend on the day of the week:
- Monday: bacalhau à Gomes Sá (traditional codfish dish from Porto) and coelho assado no forno (roasted rabbit)
- Tuesday: tripas à moda do porto (beef’s stomach cooked in a stew with white beans, carrots and cumin)
- Wednesday: filetes de pescada com arroz de feijão, de grelos ou de legumes (hake fillets with vegetables’ or beans’ rice)
- Thursday: filetes de polvo com arroz do mesmo (octopus fillets) and cozido à portuguesa (amazing Portuguese dish with different types of meats and sausages served with rice, potatoes and boiled vegetables)
- Friday: arroz de pato (roasted duck rice)
- Saturdays: rojões (pork cubes cooked in pork lard) and cabrito assado no forno (baby goat cooked in the oven, it’s to die for!)
There are those who recommend Ernesto’s famous fruit salad to finish off the meal, but I prefer a burnt crème brûlée. It never fails to amaze me!
How to get there: Aliados metro station is a 5min walk away.
Cozinha do Manel
Rua do Heroísmo, 215
One of the most traditional restaurants in Porto is hidden in Bonfim, the neighborhood that divides the tourist area from the the oriental part of the city. I’m talking about Cozinha do Manel, a restaurant that has been cheering Porto’s palates for the past 30 years.
Cozinha do Manel is one of the most welcoming traditional restaurants in Porto: you enter through a narrow hallway, from where you can take a sneak peek at the delicious desserts displayed on the fridge. The hallway gives access to a cozy dining room, covered in granite and tiles.
The starters are simply to die for: alheira assada (traditional Portuguese sausage) from Trás os Montes and queijo da Serra (soft sheep cheese) are a mandatory presence at my dining table.
As main dishes I recommend cabrito assado no forno (baby goat cooked in the oven – you need to order it with at least two days in advance!), arroz de pato (roasted duck rice) and vitela assada (roasted veal – even though, to be honest, it always feels a bit rubbery). If you prefer to go for fish, then I highly recommend to try bacalhau assado no forno (oven roasted codfish) or hake / octopus fillets.
You should not leave Cozinha do Manel without trying its fabulous rabanadas – the Portuguese twist on French toasts -, served throughout the entire year.
How to get there: Heroísmo metro station is a 5min walk away.
Adega do Carregal
Travessa do Carregal, 102
I ate my very first rojões in Adega do Carregal, a couple of years ago. Even though I am not a huge fan of this traditional Portuguese dish, that consists of pork’s cubes cooked in pork lard, I couldn’t resist to try one of the famous dishes at one of the best traditional restaurants in Porto.
At Adega do Carregal I recommend you to try the codfish dishes as well as posta à mirandesa (an amazing steak with a olive oil & vinegar sauce). There are always daily dishes like the infamously good tripas à moda do Porto (beef’s stomach cooked in a stew with white beans, carrots and cumin) and anho assado no forno (roasted lamb).
The service is very attentive, without fake pretentiousness; we’re at home.
How to get there: Aliados metro station is a 10min walk away.
Rua do Sr. da Boa Morte, 55
This restaurant is not the classic definition of a traditional restaurant in Porto. If the flavors of our childhood are unquestionably present in the dishes served, the presentation of them denotes a delicate attention to detail. One of the classic examples of this is the carpaccio cow’s tongue with hints of ginger and citrus. Wonderful.
One can clearly feel that this restaurant is managed by Hélder, who is keen to know the origin and quality of all the products served in his restaurant.
If you are an adventurous foodie like myself (and if you are not, you are simply at the wrong place, my friend!), I highlight the arroz de enchido com bochecha de vitela (rice with veal cheek) and the oxtail.
To finish the meal, a beautiful pudim abade de Priscos, which is a typical dessert from the North of Portugal.
How to get there: take tram #1 and stop at Gás.
Rua da Picaria, 26 | Rua Dr. Alberto Macedo, 437
Purists will have to forgive me, but the way I see it, one could not miss Badalhoca in this list of best traditional restaurants in Porto.
It is true that Badalhoca is not quite a restaurant, it a down-to-earth tavern where we lay our appetite in smoked ham sandwiches and small plates of pork liver baits or octopus cooked with green sauce. Always watered with a tap Super Bock – the traditional beer from Porto-, as if we order a soft drink we are greeted with a bell ring that will embarrass you in front of everyone. It’s really worth going there!
How to get there: For the downtown location, Aliados metro station is a 5min walk away. For the other location, take bus 502 (direction Matosinhos Mercado) until Gomes da Costa bus stop. The restaurant is 6min walking distance.
Rua Roberto Ivens, 824 | Matosinhos
O Gaveto is undoubtedly my favorite restaurant in Porto. It helps the fact that fish and seafood always have primacy on my table and that Gaveto serve both in an irreproachable way.
In this beautiful (almost) seafront restaurant, I strongly recommend you to try the amêijoas à Bulhão Pato (steamed clams with a garlic and white wine sauce – who would have guessed that such a simple dish could be so delicious!), the monkfish rice and the pièce de resistance, the seafood açorda (bread stew with seafood and loads of spices).
In my opinion Gaveto is also one of the most interesting traditional restaurants in Porto as it has a superb wine list, making it a mandatory stop for wine lovers like myself.
How to get there: Matosinhos Sul metro station is a 5min walk away.
Praça dos Poveiros, 33
Another controversial option on this list of the best traditional restaurants in Porto is Buraquinho, an impeccable tavern in the Bonfim neighborhhod.
The reason that makes me come back to this tiny room in a basement, practically without ventilation and with very few tables available, is the honesty of the flavors served: the combinados dishes (tiny plates filled with different types of Portuguese sausages and cured meats, alheira com ovo (Portuguese sausage served with a fried egg on top), mushrooms sautéed in white wine make out for a meal shared among friends.
At Buraquinho, I only regret the absence of a proper wine list and a couple desserts, which would prolong my stay in this secret corner of Porto.
How to get there: metro station 24 Agosto is a 5min walk away.
Avenida de Fernão de Magalhães, 782
Hidden from the tourist sights, in the Paranhos neighborhood, is one of the best traditional restaurants in Porto, Manuel Alves.
The menu of this restaurant is very diverse, consisting of countless fish options (baked shrimp and cod are always safe bets) and meat (we particularly like the veal medallions and the roasted beef).
How to get there: Campanhã and Estádio do Dragão metro stations are both a 15-minute walk away.
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