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Eat like a local in Portugal

How to Eat Out Like a Local in Portugal

portuguese custard tarts

Are you planning to visit Portugal? And you need more information about traditional Portuguese food. Here, you have one resume! Try to eat like a local in Portugal.

Let’s start at the very beginning!

Before knowing the names of specific Portuguese pastries or bread. It’s nice to learn how to say hello, thank you, please, goodbye, and a few other common phrases. Of course, you can always install a translation app on your phone to help out along the way. But for now, let’s learn a few Portuguese basics.

  • Hello – Bom Dia
  • Please – Por favor
  • Thank you – Obrigada (if you are a woman – who is speaking) / Obrigado (if you are a man – who is speaking).
  • Goodbye – Adeus / Xau

How to order coffee in Portugal

Coffee is hugely important in Portuguese culture. Do you want to order a coffee in Portugal? Continue to read this post.

Avoid Starbucks or Jeronimo. And head straight to a typical Portuguese café or bakery where you’ll get much better value for money.

Ordering Coffee Like a Local in Portugal

  • Simple black coffee: café, bica (Lisbon or Madeira), or cimbalino (in the North) is a strong black coffee.
  • Double espresso – café cheio.
  • Coffee with a spot of milk: pingo, garoto or café pingado.
  • A coffee cup with milk: meia de leite is half coffee, half milk in a cup with a handle.
  • Latte coffee: Galão is about 3/4 milk, served in a tall glass.
  • Tall black coffee (Americano Coffee): Café Americano or abatanado.
  • Decaf coffee: Descafeinado.
  • Coffee with a spot of a brandy: café com cheirinho.

The flavors or intensity depends on the coffee brand. That is why I always order one pingo because I’m not too fond of intense coffee.

Eat Like Locals in Portugal

Eating out in Portugal is usually very enjoyable and cheap!

Even so, knowing which standard practice to order at Portuguese cafes and bakeries. This will help you avoid embarrassing situations.

Warning! We’re about to describe some incredible and delicious Portuguese pastries. If you’re hungry, you should probably grab a bite to eat before reading.

Portuguese bread

What do they eat for Breakfast in Portugal?

Portuguese don’t eat eggs and bacon at breakfast. We drink coffee with milk and eat one piece of bread.  Obviously, you will have Continental Breakfast (with eggs, bacon, tomatoes, fruits, yogurt, coffee, and bread) in your hotel.

Portugal is the land of rich pastries, perfect bread, and delectable coffee. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of cakes and bread in Portugal.

Top Portuguese Pastries to Know and Try

Want something sweet to go with your coffee? Check here the top Portuguese pastries to know and try.

Pastel de Nata: The Egg Custard Tart or Portuguese tart is one of the most appreciated worldwide Portuguese Sweets. Did you know that the majority of Portuguese desserts have religious origins?

At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, next to Jeronimos Monastery, a sugar cane refinery was attached to a small general store.

Due to the 1820 liberal revolution, all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down in 1834. The clergy and laborers were expelled. In an attempt at survival, someone from the monastery offered sweet pastries for sale in the shop. In 1837, the baking of the Pastéis de Belém began in the buildings attached to the refinery, following the ancient secret recipe from the monastery.

Outside of Portugal, you can buy the egg custard tart:
UK: Cafe de Nata
USA: Joey Bats Cafe
Australia: Round Bird

Pão de LóSponge cake. The recipe of the Pão de ló was born in the eighteenth century. The Genoese cook Giobatta Carbona was sent to Spain. He presented to the Spanish King during a banquet. A very light cake named “Pan di Spagna” in honor of the Spanish court.
This cake has traveled for several generations. Some regions also have their own, such as Ovar, Felgueiras, and Arouca. This cake is usually served after the main course, also with a coffee at Easter.

Bola de Berlim – These Portuguese doughnuts are irresistible! The crème pâtissière is made with a generous amount of egg yolks resulting in a rich and luscious filling! You can find it everywhere, but you can often find street vendors selling it right on the beach during summer.

Travesseiro – translates to “pillow”. The name comes from its shape: The travesseiro is a rectangular pastry. It is made of almonds and egg cream.

It was first made at Casa Piriquita, a bakery founded in 1862 in Sintra. The founders’ granddaughter stumbled upon the travesseiro while reading a book of old recipes and decided to try it out. According to Piriquita’s owners, the recipe also has a secret ingredient.

Queijada de Sintra – The origin and history of the delicious Queijadas are lost in medieval times. They were used as a payment form because Sintra had excellent pastures and an excess of fresh cheese. That was used for the manufacture of this sweet. It is a small and delicious pie made from fresh cheese, sugar, eggs, flour, and a little cinnamon wrapped in a crispy batter.

Top Portuguese Bread to Know and Try

In Portugal, eating bread is lost in time and is the basis of Portuguese food. It is made with three main kinds of cereal: corn, rye, and wheat. Bread is different from region to region in form, color, taste, or crumb texture. It is used in traditional dishes.

Pão Alentejano (Alentejo bread) – Large and compact core, this bread is often used in açorda dishes, stews, and migas.

Pão de Centeio (Rye bread) – This type of bread is darker, and the wheat flour is replaced by rye flour. It’s bread rich in fiber.

Broa de Milho (Cornbread) – Yellowish mixture of bread, whose manufacture is done with cornflour.

Pão de Chouriço (Bread-and-sausage) – Frequent at parties and fairs. It is more appreciated just out of the oven, with its interior stuffed with chorizo slices.

Bola de Carne (Meat Bread) – Typical from Tras-os-Montes. This type of bread is stuffed with meat scraps (rabbit, pork, and different kinds of sausages).

Do you want to Eat Like a Local in Portugal?

Come and have fun learning to cook with us in Portugal.

Culinary Vacations in Portugal.

  • Activities: food tours and hands-on cooking class.
  • Visit a Port wine cellar and taste the famous fortified wine.
  • Meals: Daily breakfast, two wine tasting, two lunches, two dinners, and one tasting of Pastel de Belem.
  • Small-Group Tour. The groups are limited to 10 passengers.


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