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Eat like a local in Portugal

How to Eat Out Like a Local in Portugal

portuguese custard tarts

Are you excited about your upcoming trip to Portugal? If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local culture and cuisine, we’ve got you covered! Let’s embark on a delightful culinary adventure and discover how to eat like a local in Portugal.

Before we dive into the mouthwatering world of traditional Portuguese food, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with some basic Portuguese phrases. Saying hello, thank you, please, and goodbye in the local language can go a long way in creating meaningful connections with the friendly locals you’ll encounter. While having a translation app on your phone can be handy, let’s start by learning a few essential Portuguese expressions.

  • 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 holds immense significance in Portuguese culture, and it’s an experience you won’t want to miss during your time in Portugal! Are you eager to learn how to order a delicious cup of coffee in this vibrant country? Keep reading to discover some helpful tips.

When it comes to getting your coffee fix, I have an insider’s tip for you: skip the Starbucks or Jeronimo chains and make a beeline for a charming Portuguese café or bakery instead. Trust me, you’ll find not only exceptional quality but also incredible value for your money at these local gems.

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

Indulging in the local cuisine while dining out in Portugal is an absolute delight and the best part? It’s incredibly affordable too! However, it’s always helpful to know the customary practices when ordering at Portuguese cafes and bakeries to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience while avoiding any potentially awkward moments.

Now, brace yourself because we’re about to embark on a mouthwatering journey through the world of incredible Portuguese pastries. These descriptions are so tantalizing that if you find yourself feeling hungry, it’s highly recommended to grab a quick bite before diving into this delightful read. You’ve been warned!

Portuguese bread

What do they eat for Breakfast in Portugal?

Curious about the breakfast culture in Portugal? Well, prepare for a delightful surprise! Unlike the typical eggs and bacon breakfast, the Portuguese have their own unique morning routine. Picture this: a steaming cup of coffee with milk accompanied by a delicious piece of bread. It’s a simple yet satisfying way to kickstart your day in Portugal. However, fear not! If you prefer a more extensive breakfast spread, most hotels offer a Continental Breakfast option complete with eggs, bacon, tomatoes, fruits, yogurt, coffee, and bread.

Now, let’s talk about the mouthwatering treats that make Portugal a paradise for pastry lovers. From heavenly cakes to perfect bread and aromatic coffee, this country has it all. To get your taste buds excited, we’ve curated a list of some must-try cakes and bread that you simply can’t miss during your time in Portugal. Get ready to indulge in a world of irresistible flavors!

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 Portuguese Egg Custard Tart

a cup of coffee and custard tarts in lisbonLet’s travel back in time to the early nineteenth century near the Jeronimos Monastery in Portugal. Back then, a small general store was accompanied by a sugar cane refinery, forming an intriguing setting for a delicious tale.

During the 1820 liberal revolution, significant changes occurred in Portugal. In 1834, as a result of these transformative times, all convents and monasteries were forced to close their doors. The clergy and laborers were sadly expelled from their sacred abodes. However, in the face of adversity, a glimmer of hope emerged.

To ensure their survival, a resourceful individual from the monastery came up with a brilliant idea. They began offering sweet pastries for sale in the shop adjacent to the refinery. And so, in 1837, the delectable baking of the renowned Pastéis de Belém commenced within the very same buildings that were once part of the monastery.

It’s worth mentioning that the secret recipe used to create these tantalizing treats was carefully passed down from the ancient traditions of the monastery. The result? The world-famous Pastéis de Belém is an exquisite example of Portuguese culinary heritage that continues to captivate taste buds to this day.

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.

Let’s delve into the delightful world of Pão de Ló, a scrumptious sponge cake with a fascinating history. This mouthwatering treat originated in the eighteenth century, when the talented Genoese cook, Giobatta Carbona, ventured to Spain. During a splendid banquet, he had the honor of presenting a remarkably light cake to the Spanish King. In tribute to the Spanish court, this heavenly creation was named “Pan di Spagna.”

Since its inception, this cake has traveled through time, delighting generations with its exquisite taste. Various regions in Portugal have put their own unique spin on Pão de Ló, resulting in distinct versions found in places like Ovar, Felgueiras, and Arouca. It has become a cherished tradition to serve this delectable cake after the main course, often accompanied by a delightful cup of coffee, especially during the Easter season.

So, whether you’re savoring a classic Pão de Ló or exploring the regional variations, prepare to indulge in a light and fluffy cake that has stood the test of time, spreading joy and delight throughout Portugal.

Bola de Berlim – Prepare to have your taste buds tantalized by the irresistible Bola de Berlim, a beloved Portuguese delicacy that will leave you craving for more! These mouthwatering doughnuts are a true delight, boasting a crème pâtissière filling crafted with an abundance of egg yolks, resulting in a luxuriously rich and creamy center.

The best part? You can find Bola de Berlim everywhere in Portugal, but there’s something truly special about stumbling upon street vendors selling them right on the beach during the vibrant summer months. Picture yourself basking in the sun with the refreshing ocean breeze and indulging in a warm, freshly-made Bola de Berlim. It’s an experience that captures the essence of Portuguese seaside bliss.

So, whether you encounter these heavenly treats at a local bakery or seize the opportunity to savor them straight from a beachside vendor, get ready for a delectable journey into the world of Bola de Berlim. Just be warned, once you take that first bite, resistance becomes futile. Enjoy every delightful moment!

Travesseiro – Prepare to be introduced to the delightful Travesseiro, which aptly translates to “pillow” in Portuguese. This delectable pastry derives its name from its distinct rectangular shape, resembling a cozy pillow. The Travesseiro is crafted using a delectable combination of almonds and egg cream, resulting in a harmonious blend of flavors.

The origins of this heavenly treat can be traced back to Casa Piriquita, a renowned bakery established in 1862 in the charming town of Sintra. It was the fortunate discovery of the bakery’s founders’ granddaughter, who stumbled upon the Travesseiro while perusing an old recipe book. Intrigued by the tantalizing description, she decided to recreate it, bringing this delightful pastry to life.

Legend has it that the recipe for Travesseiro holds a secret ingredient closely guarded by the owners of Piriquita. This mysterious addition adds a touch of magic to the already irresistible flavors, elevating the Travesseiro to new heights of deliciousness.

So, when you find yourself in Sintra or exploring the pastry shops of Portugal, make sure to indulge in this delightful creation. Let the Travesseiro transport you to a realm of almond-infused bliss, and relish in the tantalizing secrets hidden within this exceptional treat.

Queijada de Sintra – Prepare to delve into the rich history and delectable flavors of Queijada de Sintra, a delightful Portuguese treat that has its origins shrouded in medieval times. Legend has it that these scrumptious queijadas were even used as a form of payment in Sintra, a testament to the region’s abundance of excellent pastures and fresh cheese.

What exactly are Queijadas? They are small, mouthwatering pies that encapsulate a symphony of flavors. Each queijada is carefully crafted using a combination of fresh cheese, sugar, eggs, flour, and a hint of cinnamon, all enveloped in a crispy, irresistible batter. The result is a heavenly bite-sized pastry that will transport your taste buds to pure bliss.

As you savor these delightful treats, let your imagination wander through the centuries, imagining the medieval bakers perfecting the art of creating these delectable queijadas. Sintra’s legacy of producing exceptional pastures and cheese is beautifully showcased in each bite, providing a delicious glimpse into the region’s culinary heritage.

So, when you find yourself in Sintra or come across a pastry shop offering Queijada de Sintra, be sure to seize the opportunity to indulge in this ancient and utterly delightful sweet. Let each bite carry you through time, savoring the remarkable flavors and the story behind this beloved Portuguese delicacy.

Check out these popular recipes:

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?

Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable culinary adventure and truly Eat Like a Local in Portugal? Look no further because we have the perfect opportunity for you!

Join us for an immersive and exciting experience with our Culinary Vacations in Portugal. Get ready to have a blast as you learn to cook authentic Portuguese dishes while surrounded by the country’s vibrant culture.

Our program offers a fantastic array of activities that will leave you hungry for more. Enjoy enlightening food tours where you’ll discover hidden culinary gems and local markets bursting with fresh ingredients. Then, roll up your sleeves and dive into our hands-on cooking classes, where skilled chefs will guide you through the creation of traditional Portuguese delicacies.

But that’s not all! We’ll take you on a journey to a renowned Port wine cellar, where you’ll savor the famous fortified wine and indulge in its unique flavors. Throughout your culinary adventure, you can count on a daily breakfast, two wine tastings, two lunches, two dinners, and a delightful tasting of Pastel de Belem, a beloved Portuguese pastry.

To ensure an intimate and personalized experience, our small-group tours are limited to just 10 passengers. This allows for meaningful connections, individual attention, and a sense of camaraderie as you share this incredible journey with fellow food enthusiasts.

So, why wait? Don’t miss this chance to explore the vibrant culinary scene of Portugal, learn valuable cooking skills, and create unforgettable memories. Join us on our Culinary Vacations in Portugal and prepare to savor the true flavors of this extraordinary country!


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