Updated: Aug 9
I’ve been enamored with Porto, Portugal since my first visit in 2019. Nestled on the Douro River, it’s an incredibly charming “boutique" city easily navigated by foot. Every morning you’ll be awakened by the resident seagulls and soft, salty breezes reminding you how close to the Atlantic you are. Amongst the charm and historical tiled buildings, a certain grit also gives me odd comfort as a New Yorker. The people of this city are incredibly passionate about “The North” and won’t hesitate to tell you why. It’s one of those things you must experience for yourself to understand. Beyond the charm and genuine people, Porto is also quickly becoming one of the most important places in Western Europe for gastronomy. With still wines of the country gaining quick popularity, the choices for food and drink are endless.
I’m here to help you navigate this “wild terrain” by giving you my top places to eat and drink in Porto, Portugal.
Where to Drink Wine
Let’s face it, Porto is the land of Port Lodges and still wines from the Douro Valley. There are many places to indulge in a glass (or 3), but as a wine enthusiast, the following places are not to be missed.
Nestled 3 minutes from the famous São Bento train station lies a tiny tasting room owned by Sommelier Rafael de Lima. This isn’t a regular bar where you stroll in for a glass; no, Rafa has it set up as an entire wine experience. Once you book your party directly on his site or Airbnb Experiences, you’ll show up to a flight of Portuguese wine accompanied by local meats & cheeses. Rafa will guide you through each wine, touching on tasting techniques, Portuguese terroir, and winemaking in a fun and approachable way. Rafa is incredibly candid and personable; you’ll be sure to leave with a new love for Portuguese wine and a memorable experience.
Located just a 5-minute walk up from the Douro is quite possibly my favorite wine bar to grab a glass before dinner. Sommelier Diogo Amado is at the helm of Prova Wine, Food & Pleasure, offering 50 wines by the glass. The producers showcased here are some of the most notable in Portugal. In fact, this is the place where my ‘ah ha” for Portuguese wine happened. Get ready to be physically moved by how much you’ll discover from Douro to Dão to Alentejo; you’ll surely find your next favorite wine.
Located in the heart of the art district (Cedofeita), Genuíno is a natural wine bar offering up some of the best and most exciting natural wine in Portugal. The space is cozy with many young locals starting or ending their evenings, and the vibe screams "Brooklyn." The staff is super knowledgable and is happy to offer suggestions based off of what you're looking for. The food is also delicious!
If drinking wine in a 19th century chapel is your vibe, look no further than Capela Incomum. Also located in the Cedofeita area, this wine bar will have you sipping in front of the original church alter. The Viscount who built this church was also extremely into...wine. To stay "on brand," all of the previous images of saints have been replaced by grapevines and winemakers.
If you’re in the mood to sip wine while overlooking the Douro River, Wine Quay Bar is your best bet! Although a smaller wine list than some other places, Wine Quay Bar has a great atmosphere with the best selection of wine on the river. Filipa Fernandes is the “hostess with the mostess” and will make you feel at home. Summer sunsets don’t get any better…just watch out for those seagulls who love cured meat and cheeses!
Where to Have a Cocktail
One of the most iconic properties in Porto, The Yeatman Hotel offers a 5-star stay with a restaurant that has earned 2 Michelin stars. As it’s located in Vila Nova de Gaia, the views look towards Porto with the famous Luís I Bridge to the right. The Orangerie is a casual dining option perfect for lunch or a quick cocktail before dinner. The outdoor terrace offers expansive views as it’s on the 8th floor of the hotel.
The locals may get upset that I’m letting you in on their little secret, but The Royal Cocktail Club has the best cocktails in town by a long shot. The vibe is very “West Village Speakeasy,” with mixologists wearing button-down shirts and aprons. Expect to find classic and unique cocktails, all with impeccable presentations. If you love a good Negroni, don’t miss out on The Royal.
I love Torto because it reminds me of being in an “in the know” place in the East Village with graffiti on the walls and dim lighting. They have DJs on rotation, which can be good or bad, depending on when you’re trying to get to bed! The cocktails are excellent, with a large selection of spirits, and the staff is super friendly!
Where to Drink Port
The tour at Taylor’s Port was the best out of all the Port houses we visited. I loved it so much because it was self-guided with a headset, which means you can go at your own pace. The house is set up like a museum, walking you through different rooms while learning about Port’s rich history and specific winemaking practices. At the end of the tour, your newfound knowledge will be rewarded with a tasting inside or out in the garden. If you’re in the garden, just watch out for the peacocks!
I enjoyed my tasting at Ramos Pinto as I got to experience a wide range of different Port styles, all side-by-side. It was a much quicker tasting than the full tour at Taylor’s and perfect for those trying to fit a quality Port tasting into a packed itinerary. Ramos Pinto also offers still wines which is pretty unique and worth a try!
Graham’s produces some of my favorite Ports outside of Niepoort (which is near impossible to get in). It’s located a bit further west than the other Port houses, but it’s worth the trek. In full transparency, I didn’t do a formal tasting here but did enjoy the restaurant, where I was able to choose several different Port styles during and at the end of my meal. I’ll get more into the restaurant later on!
Where to Eat Like a Local
I spent two weeks with two locals, and here are the places and things we ate repeatedly. Most of these are very specific to Porto and don’t require you to dress up or make a reservation.
My proud Porto friend proclaimed these to be the “best Pastel de Natas in Portugal,” and honestly, he’s not wrong. Did you know monks invented these tasty custard delights in the 18th century? Because there wasn’t laundry detergent back then, nuns and monks would use egg whites to starch their clothes. This left behind many egg yolks, which were then used as a major ingredient in desserts. It’s all about the consistency of the middle - it can’t be too runny or too solid, and the natas at Fábrica da Nata are just right! Sprinkle some cinnamon on there, and enjoy!
You know you've hit the jackpot when you walk into a restaurant and see all locals. Upon first arrival to the small space (the original space is much smaller than the newer one), you’ll be greeted by a few tables and a giant pork leg near the register. They’re known for their “Sandes de Pernil,” or roasted pork leg sandwich with sheep cheese. Once received, wait a few minutes for the cheese to melt properly over the pork…absolute heaven! Pair this with a Super Bock, and you have yourself a lunch.
There’s nothing quite like walking into a restaurant and seeing photos of the great Anthony Bourdain plastered all over the walls. Once you see that, you know you’re in for a real authentic treat. Gazela is famous for its cachorrinhos, or “spicy hot dogs.” Cachorrinhos consist of spicy sausage and melted cheese on thin toasty bread. It’s best paired with a basket of fries and a Super Bock.
The Mercado do Bolhão just reopened in December 2022 with a significant facelift! Come here for fresh produce, cheese, meat, wine, flowers, and coffee, but you can’t leave without trying a wild boar pie. These tiny delights consist of shredded pork tucked into a buttery pastry. They’re small and perfect when you need a quick midday snack! Check back soon as new restaurants will be opening on the second floor.
Where to Eat for a Memorable Dining Experience
Vinum is a restaurant connected to Graham’s which brings in the best local ingredients from the Atlantic and Northern Portugal, including fresh fish daily from the local Matosinhos harbor. Every dish is thoughtfully paired with the beautiful wines of the Douro Valley. Guests will enjoy incredible sunset views from inside the restaurant or the open-air terrace. At the end of your meal, prepare for the famous “Port cart” to come to your table, which will have you experiencing the incredible range of the Symington Family.
Undoubtedly, this “Michelin recognized” restaurant should have 1 star. The warm and modern atmosphere is great for date night, and the smell of food cooking on the open fire is hypnotizing. I appreciated the service the most (beyond the well-thought-out wine list). My water and wine glasses were never empty, and all of the courses for my husband and me were set and taken away perfectly synchronized. The price is incredible for what you get (90 euros for eight courses)! Highly recommend.
An absolute institution! Just a 3-minute walk from the river, the stone walls and wooden beams of Ode Porto Wine House provide all the Portuguese charm for a romantic dinner. The cuisine here is traditional Portuguese, as it was always the chef's goal to pay homage to his grandmother’s cooking. The wine list is spectacular, and the octopus and cod are especially delicious.
An airy and chic vibe encompasses Flow Restaurant & Bar, located in the heart of downtown Porto. The entire restaurant is as thoughtfully designed as the menu. This is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a wide range of options and perhaps something for a picky eater. The menu is split up into pasta, fish, and meat providing a superb range of textures and flavors for the palate. The wine list isn’t as complete as the other restaurants, but you can always bring your own bottle and pay a corkage fee!
This 1 star Michelin restaurant will be sure to provide a memorable experience! The menu consists of 10 courses (with a few extras added in!) for 145€/person. The chef uses seasonal products sourced from local farms all over the country. There is an option to add a wine pairing, or you can order a bottle if you choose. Chef Vasco Coelho Santos aims to take you on a journey through the five senses; from my experience, he does just that!
Other restaurants guaranteed to provide a memorable experience (make sure to book ahead!):
For Lunch on the Douro
Located in Vila Nova de Gaia, Taberninha do Manel is located directly on the Douro River, close to the Luís I Bridge. Many of the restaurants in this area are very touristy and don’t provide great quality for the price, but that is not true for Taberninha do Manel. Only the freshest ingredients are used here, and they definitely have the best small clams in Porto (I said what I said)! Enjoy the local cuisine and a Super Bock while people watching your afternoon away.