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Portugal Food and Drink

Portuguese cooking is not too well known in other parts of Europe, or the world for that matter; nevertheless it is definitely worth exploring properly. Seafood is a regular staple, especially the salt cod that is very much a love it or hate it thing. It forms the base of hundreds of recipes and you should try it at least once. Anchovy, bass, clams, mussels, salmon, sea bream, sole and swordfish are easier on the palate and also popular.

The spice peri-peri is widely used to flavour chicken and shrimp, while Goan curry spices also add extra flavour to a variety of dishes and broths eaten widely. Meat lovers can gorge on espetada (grilled skewers of beef with garlic), leitão (suckling pig) and cozido à portuguesa, which mixes beef, pork, sausage and vegetables in a delicious dish. Another traditional delicacy is porco à alentejana (pork and clams Alentejo-style).

Sweets such as chocolate mousse and arroz doce (lemon and cinnamon-flavoured rice pudding), together with classic egg-yolk and sugar-based cakes, can be seen on tables up and down the country to finish off a superb meal. As you would in many other smaller European countries, take the time to seek out local shops, bars and restaurants to ask what the locals eat and drink.


There are some fascinating local dishes dotted throughout the country, which are either variations on culinary favourites or unique creations.

Bacalhau á bràs (scrambled eggs with salted cod, potatoes and onions; popular in Estremadura).
Lulas recheadas à lisbonense (stuffed squid; a Lisbon speciality).
Tripa à moda do Porto (tripe; available for those of a meaty disposition in Porto).
Queijadas de Sintra (cheese tart found in Sintra).
Açorda de mariscos (shrimp stew cooked in a bread bowl).
• Caldo verde (green soup made with finely shredded green kale leaves in broth).
Pastéis de nata (traditional custard-filled tarts typical of Lisbon).

Things to know

Table service is normal. There are no licensing hours.


More often than not, a service charge is not added to hotel and restaurant bills, so tip around 10 to 15% if you are satisfied with your experience. A couple of Euros for hotel maids and porters is considered appropriate. Round up your taxi fare to the nearest five Euros should you not wish to hand over 10%. Service charge is more casual in the less touristy north than the busy south.

Drinking age

The legal age to buy and drink alcohol is 18 years.

Regional drinks

A trip to Portugal would not be complete without sampling some of the wonderful drinks native to certain regions.

• Portugal’s most famous tipple is port. Porto, naturally, can boast a wide selection, along with the Douro valley to the east of the city.
• Wine is also a forte in this part of the world. Vinho Verde from Minho in the north together with Vinho do Dão and Vinho da Bairrada stand out from the usual favourites.
Aguardente (a sugar cane based drink).
• Beirão and Ginjinha (or Ginja) are distinctly unique liqueurs to cap off an excellent meal.

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