With the premise “food is a cultural expression”, André and the team behind Taste Porto Food Tours organize one of the best intros to food and beverage you are likely to come across in the North of Portugal.
As someone from this part of Portugal myself, I was curious as to what I’d explore, taste and learn in a tour such as this. Before we go into more details, I can say the balance was extremely positive. Not only this was one entertaining morning, it included great samples of things one should try when traveling in my country and a lot of cultural tidbits to go along with it all.
The 3.5 hours tour in the heart of Porto includes 6 stops: you go on a voyage that embraces savory, sweet, drinks and a lot friendly talk!
A Loja dos Pastéis de Chaves
Although this is a tour of the food from Porto, we started off at a shop that specializes in Chaves pastries (Chaves being another city in Norther Portugal) and am I glad it did!
Chaves pastries are made with the flakiest of doughs, traditionally filled with minced veal. At A Loja dos Pastéis de Chaves, in a modern and cosmopolitan environment, they have taken this popular snack to the next level, introducing new flavors such as cod fish (this is Portugal after all!), vegetarian, different chicken fillings and even sweet ones. We had the pleasure of trying the original pastries and also chocolate with hazelnut.
Bolhão Wine House
As a lover of Portuguese food, it gives me immense joy to meet newer generations of fellow Portuguese people who have embraced our culture and flavors and, in a revamped way, want to present to the rest of the world some of the things that or country does best!
That’s the case with the team behind Bolhão Wine House, a wine shop nestled inside the happening Bolhão Market – this is a perfect location, as there is nothing like visiting a local market to understand the food culture of a given place. Here we had traditional canned sardines, sweet Moscatel wine and home-made queijadinha pastries during the mid morning. Nothing like a good snack while our guide André and the owners of the store would explain us how they want to keep Bolhão Market alive, introducing new concepts of stores such as this one, that aim at introducing typical goods to a larger audience.
If there is something Portuguese people are very particular about, that is a good cup of coffee. We dug into the history of coffee making in Portugal, through the tales behind the historical Café Christina, where we also got to enjoy a cimbalino (that is an expresso, as people in Porto would call it).
A Flor dos Congregados
A Flor dos Congregados restaurant was, hands down, one of our my favorite stops during the entire food tour – and Ashray agrees! It wasn’t later than 12pm and we had already had Chaves pastries, sardines, wine, sweets and coffee. Could our sense of taste become even more awake after this? The answer is YES!
This charming restaurant at an alley in Porto’s city center serves the most tender, flavorful, succulent pork sandwich I have ever had the pleasure to bite on. The chef explained us how the meat is marinated, but the recipe is a well kept family secret. He also chatted with us about the sparkling red wine we drank as we ate and many other goodies they serve at this restaurant.
When I go back to Porto, I am surely going to make A Flor dos Congregados one of my stops for lunch of dinner. They serve good down-to-earth food as it’s meant to be!
This tour is about more than food: it is an ode to Porto, its sights, its people, its traditions and how it all blends together.
There is quite a lot of walking around the city, but it all happens at a leisurely pace. Thanks to our guide André, we got to listen to anecdotes of the city’s past and present, notice architectural details we probably wouldn’t have come across otherwise and stop at different look-out points to enjoy some of the best views over Porto’s buildings and the river. All of that and a lot of restaurant recommendations, of course!
André’s love for his city (and its food!) is more than obvious from the very start, and it is that passion that makes the tour so enjoyable, beyond all the tasty food.
Leitaria da Quinta do Paço
When I told my brother-in-law who lived in Porto most of his life that I had gone to Leitaria Quinta do Paço he quickly said with enthusiasm “that means you got to try the best eclairs in the world!”. With that said, there isn’t many more words one could use to describe the creamy treats we enjoyed under Porto’s shy sun on that fine Saturday morning.
Taberna do Lago
This was the place where we had the chance to try several wines, such as varieties of white, red and rosé. It’s important for visitors to understand that Portugal produces a great variety of wine beyond the obvious Port Wine that everyone ends up tasting when visiting the Douro Valley.
At Taberna do Lago we had the grand finale of this greatly satisfying tour, delecting our taste buds with some of my favorite Portuguese treats: cheeses, cured meats and “petiscos” (small snacks, similar to tapas in Spain). The highlight was given to small producers from all over the country, who are the sole suppliers of this restaurant and gourmet shop that sells and serve a lot of popular items, but only from selected sources that the owners have hand picked themselves at source.