Picture this: you’re sitting at a café in Lisbon. Classic trolley cars are driving by on the cobblestoned lined streets while you watch, sipping some of the best red wine you’ve had in a while and devouring a plate of the most amazing tuna pate you could imagine.
You get the bill and notice it was only $7 for the bottle of wine and $2 for the tuna. Could this be real? Am I in heaven?
No, you’re just in Portugal. I spent two blissful weeks eating my way through the small country, from the Northern azulejos covered city of Porto all the way to the cliff lined beaches of the Algarve in the South.
This small country packs a punch of unbelievable cuisine while not breaking the bank like its neighboring big brother country Spain.
Starting in the Northern city of Porto I was greeted with rich Port wine, a flavorful and fatty cured salami made of an indigenous Portuguese pig called bísaro, the sweet and creamy Pastel de Nata custard tarts, and the famous Porto francesinhas which is a belly busting steak, sausage, cheese, and beer sauce sandwich that is to die for.
An hour from Porto is the picturesque vineyard lined Douro valley, where the most delicious Port wines in the world are from, and at such a cheap price you’ll want to cry.
Heading to the South is the wonderful capital of Portugal, Lisbon. It truly is my favorite capital I’ve ever been to for a number of reasons but I think the No. 1 reason might be the food.
No, it is the food.
Lisbon is a food mecca of epic proportions, whether you’re going to a Michelin star restaurant, the impressive Mercado da Ribeira food market, or walking into a canned food shop and eating the gourmet sardines there out of the can.
There’s something delicious for everyone and for a fraction of the price of other European cities.
Flash forward a few gluttonous days spent in Lisbon and I was down in the very South of the country, staying in the beautiful walled fortress city of Faro in the Algarve.
I stopped at a small café inside the city walls upon arrival for a quick lunch and to much of my surprise, one of the best meals ever.
I started out with a small wheel of creamy, oozing, gooey, absolutely heavenly cheese topped with local honey and walnuts. I blissfully scooped out the cheese with a piece of crusty bread and every ounce of me was happy.
I sat there on the cobblestone lined side street sipping on sangria that could rival any bar in Spain for only $2 and enjoying the scenery of the beautiful old city.
Next on the menu was something so simple: tuna salad with black eyed peas, chopped red and green pepper, and local olive oil. That’s it; simple, flavorful, and fresh ingredients at its finest, which is exactly what Portuguese cooking is.
Two weeks spent there made me realize that every city of the country has something different and delicious to offer. Portugal is not only a beautiful destination but one that left me hungry for more.
** This article was originally posted in the NY Daily News**
Thank you for this article!
I have also been in Portugal twice (Madeira and Algarve) and it was an amazing experience!