by Carmela Rodriguez
While Portugal's culinary scene doesn’t get as much attention as its neighbor Spain, insiders believe Portuguese food rivals that of its Iberian counterpart. There are certainly some delicious dishes and foods in Portugal, so if you spot any of these on the menu, give them a try, you won’t regret it. New-York-based travel company AllTheRooms has rounded up the top seven Portuguese dishes, from a chicken marinade dating back to the colonial era, through to incredible fish dishes, here are the top picks:
1. Pasteis de Nata
The Pasteis de Nata, otherwise known as a Portuguese custard tart, is a delicious pastry with a thick custard-egg filling. During your vacation in Portugal, you’ll see cafes filled with the tarts and the pastry is best consumed warm. Many people add a sprinkle of cinnamon to the tart before taking a bite. The Pasteis de Nata is said to have originated in Belem, which is a suburb in Lisbon, and it was invented by monks who sold the tarts on the street to earn money during a time of hardship in the 1830s. Warning: the tarts are seriously addictive.
2. Chicken Piri Piri
Chicken Piri Piri is a dish that emerged during Portugal's colonial era. Portuguese settlers arrived in Angola and Mozambique, bringing with them chilli peppers that are known as piri-piri in Swahili. The chilli peppers were combined with ingredients found on the African continent. To make the dish, chicken is marinated for several hours in a delicious blend of garlic, chilli, paprika and lemon, before being cooked on a grill. It’s normally served with chips on the side.
Bacalhau, or codfish, is one of Portugal’s most popular dishes. You can find hundreds of different ways to eat codfish in Portugal, and one of the best ways is bacalhau à brás, which is when the fish is cooked with onions, olives, parsley and scrambled egg. It’s normally served with a hearty portion of chips.
Fresh sardines are another dish that you have to try during your trip. During the summer months in Lisbon, they are consumed by the ton, as this is when sardines are known to be at their juiciest. The dish is kept simple, it’s just sardines grilled in a bit of oil. Pair it with a cold glass of white wine for a delicious combination.
Bifana is a top street food snack that can be found in Lisbon. The dish is made from thin slices of pork, that has been marinated in a bath of garlic and white wine, before being fried and put into a Portuguese bread bun. The meat is perfectly juicy and once you finish, you’ll be wanting another.
One thing is for certain, the Portuguese know how to make sandwiches. Francesinha is a sandwich made of triple layers of cheese and cured meats that are stuffed between bread slices and then topped with thick gravy sauce.
7. Pastèis de Bacalhau
For this delicious snack, codfish is shredded and rolled into a ball, before being fried until the outside is perfectly crispy. Many restaurants serve it as a starter, or you can grab it as a snack on the go from a food truck or street food stall. It’s best eaten with a squeeze of lemon.
If you’re looking for a place to crash after sampling too much Portuguese food, check out all accommodation options throughout Portugal.
Carmela Rodriguez is a Journalist from London. She quit the rainy UK and moved to sunny Medellin, Colombia, where she is a Content Writer for Alltherooms.com. Her favorite travel adventures have been staying at a hostel in the middle of the Caribbean sea and riding a motorbike in Vietnam.