Food can shape a destination’s culture, so I always feel like it is nice to try the local specialties when I travel. I had been to a few Portuguese restaurants, but I knew there was so much I had not tried. In Portugal, and Porto more specifically, food plays a big part in everyday life. It is not uncommon for a dinner to last hours because it really is an event. Our first dinner in Porto lasted from 8 pm until almost 1 am! I wanted to experience more of the local food culture so we decided to try a Porto Food Tour.
The Porto food tour we took was the Finger Food Tour with Porto Walkers. According to the website, we would have eight snacks and three drinks. The tour runs from 11:30 am to 2 pm and they suggest you come hungry. We were also warned that we would be going to very local spots and might run into some rowdy locals. I was excited to try some new dishes and see more of the city.
We met our local guide at 11:30 am, GB, outside the Mercado Do Bolhao. He was easy to spot in his red shirt. Two lovely ladies from Switzerland would also be joining us on the food tour. We all hit it off right away and I could tell it was going to be a fun time.
To start our Porto food tour, GB walked us through the market. I always love going to local market when I travel (La Boqueria in Barcelona for example) and it was even better having a local guide. GB walked us down the aisles and pointed out some of the interesting stalls. One that really caught my attention had chickens in one cage and pigeons in another. It’s more like something I would expect to see in Asia.
We stopped at another stall and GB got us some snacks: olives and lupin
beans. The olives were more mild than kalamata olives and to me tasted similar to the black ones we put on nachos. I had not tried lupin beans before but they reminded me of edamame. You are supposed to take off the outer shell and then you can just eat the bean like a snack. I was excited to find a tasty new healthy snack.
Our next stop was to try salted dried cod. Since the cod eaten in Portugal comes from Scandinavia, it is typically dried. We went upstairs and GB brought us some vegetable soups, fried cod sandwiches, and a bottle of Vinho Verde (my favorite Portuguese wine). I had cod several times already in Portugal and didn’t even realize it was dried because it was still moist and flavorful.
Next up on our Porto food tour, we tried what I would describe as something similar to an empanada. I love empanadas and enjoyed this one too. The Portuguese really know how to make pastries. We had a beef one, but they also had a vegetarian version.
Then we went to another small local place to try the ham and brown bread. As you can imagine the ham was delicious. The brown bread tasted different yet familiar. I asked GB about it and he told me that it had cornmeal in it. Then I realized it tasted like cornbread, which really went well with the ham. We also had a pitcher of Vinho Verde which we drank out of ceramic cups. That felt a little weird, but the wine still tasted great!
Our next stop was to get the famous pulled pork sandwiches with Serra da Estrela cheese from Casa Guedes. Depending on when you go, you may have to wait in a long line as the sandwiches are very popular. We only waited a few minutes. I am not used to having cheese on a pulled pork sandwich. The cheese has a strong flavor but it really works. You just have to be careful because it can get messy! We paired the sandwiches with a nice rose wine and sat at the tables outside.
We chose to end the tour with something sweet. Portugal really makes amazing pastries. GB brought us natas, the most famous pastry in Portugal, another dessert, and some coffee. It was a great way to end the tour. We were having so much fun, we sat for a bit and chatted. At this point, it was almost 4 pm, but GB still stayed and gave us some suggestions for other places to see in Porto.
Unfortunately, the tour is not suitable for vegetarians, but Porto Walkers also offer a Pastry Tour, Port Tour, Douro Valley Tour, and a Free Walking Tour. If you are looking for a really fun night, they also have a pub crawl which starts at 11 pm and goes until the wee hours of the morning. I was tempted to join for the pub crawl, but decided since I had a full day of driving ahead of me, I should probably take it easy.
I really enjoyed getting the local experience, we had so much fun. For €30 per person, I think you really get your money’s worth with Porto Walkers. We had so much food and wine, plus saw the city and some local spots, and made new friends. I loved everything that I tried on my Porto food tour, but I think my favorite thing was probably the nata. I love my sweets! For more pictures, check out the video.
Have you tried any Portuguese food? What has been your favorite?
Expert Tips for a Porto Food Tour:
- Come hungry! You will get plenty of food.
- Pace yourself with the wine and make sure to also drink water.
- Make sure your reserve your spot with Porto Walkers in advance.
Disclosure: No financial compensation was received, but we were guests of Porto Walkers for the finger food walking tour. As always, opinions are my own.
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