Enjoy a stroll along the river in Porto after dinner
If you're new to a city, finding somewhere decent for lunch or dinner can be tricky. More often than not, the majority of places surrounding the main tourist sites are a rip-off and hugely disappointing. So, to avoid the stress of trying to find a good meal, and any hunger-related tantrums from the kids, I have put together this brief guide to local eateries in the lovely city of Porto in Portugal. They certainly go down well with my family, and I hope you and yours enjoy their food just as much!
Boats carrying port barrels, Porto
This lovely little restaurant can be found in the old-town of Porto, and is just a short walk from the cathedral should you be hungry after a morning of sightseeing. The atmosphere is low-key and easy going, which makes it a great place to head for lunch as a family, and ever popular amongst the local residents.
The food on the menu is very typical of the region, with a few key ingredients per dish done simply and really well. You will find something to please even the fussiest eaters here, whether you're dining with vegetarians, carnivores or big meat-eaters, and it is sure to appeal to any foodies amongst you!
One of my favourite dishes on the menu is the confit of pork cheeks in port wine sauce with puréed Queijo cheese, a delicious combination of local flavours. Popular amongst my children is the dessert menu, particularly the chocolate ice cream soufflé with warm orange sauce – clean plates all round!
A favourite amongst locals, Cafeina is located just behind the beach in Foz do Douro and is one of the most popular bistros in the neighbourhood. The décor is classic and understatedly chic, and the food on the menu continues the trend. With traditional Portuguese roots, the chefs here have elaborated on classic dishes with a wider European influence.
If you and your loved one are looking to spend an evening of quality time together, this is the place to go. The ambience makes for the perfect romantic setting. And after one of the best meals available in town, you and your partner can enjoy a stroll along the beach – something my husband and I love to do!
The sister restaurant, Cafeina Wine & Tapas, is also just down the road and offers up equally delicious fare, should you fancy something a little more relaxed. Your kids are sure to love the little sharing plates, which are a great way to sample a wide variety of regional specialities!
Take a tram ride through the city of Porto
Confeitaria do Bolhão
If you're more in the mood for a little afternoon pick-me-up rather than a full-blown meal, then head to Confeitaria do Bolhão. One of the oldest still-running establishments in Porto, Confeitaria do Bolhão maintains its art deco splendour, with a range of cakes and treats to match!
For anyone with a sweet tooth, grabbing a bite to eat here will be like heaven. For me, my favourite post-lunch energy fix is a cup of their rich, dark coffee with a piece of Sortido Hungaro on the side. Originating from a recipe brought over by Hungarian immigrants, this melt in the mouth chocolate-dipped shortbread is to die for.
Porto's Old Town is just a couple of minutes' stroll from Confeitaria do Bolhão, which makes it the perfect tucked-away pit stop before an afternoon of sightseeing. What more could you ask for!
Driving to Porto with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, crossing the Channel from Folkestone to Calais takes just 35 minutes, which means you'll be on the road to Portugal before you know it! When you disembark at our Calais terminal, get on the E402 down to Le Mans. From here, follow the signs to Tours where you can pick up the E5, which will take you as far south as Burgos over the border in Spain. At Burgos, join the A-231 as far as León and then take the A-66 to join up with the A-52. This will then take you along the border of Portugal, where you can take the A-72 to link up with the E801 and the E805, respectively. You will soon see Porto clearly signposted, so from this point it's easy driving, and after all that way you will have no doubt worked up quite the appetite! And as they say in Portuguese, “bom apetite!”