If you have made the wise decision to study in Portugal during the forthcoming academic year, then one of the reasons for this is likely to have been our country’s fantastic culture. Whether you are Portuguese born and bred or perhaps joining us from abroad, the lure of Portugal’s fine institutions, climate and customs is simply too much to ignore.
Integral to this culture is of course Portuguese food, being one of the most vibrant and diverse gastro scenes in Europe. Influenced by many other cultures due to Portugal’s rich past, great restaurants serving authentic Portuguese food can be found all around the country.
As a student in Portugal, we recommend you try as much of the local cuisine as possible and, to help you on your quest, we have put together this guide to delicious Portuguese dishes to try in Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra. Why these cities? Well, these are the cities where you can live in luxury student accommodation from Collegiate Portugal!
What to eat in Lisbon
It makes sense to start with Lisbon. Portugal’s proud capital and home to many of the foods that are quintessentially Portuguese, the city offers many diverse menus all of which should be tried by any student who loves to try new things. Choosing one dish from each city has been tricky but we have put our heads together and come up with a treat from each region.
The first is served in any Portuguese restaurant Lisbon can be proud of, is the Cozido à Portuguesa. Translated as Portuguese stew but much more than that, you will see this served in many Portuguese restaurants especially in the capital.
Although not the most aesthetically pleasing dish, Cozido à Portuguesa is jam packed with flavour. It’s a pot of pork chunks and tender beef (sometimes even chicken), and a truckload of vegetables – potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beans and sometimes even turnips. This is a dish not to be eaten alone and you can be sure it’ll give you much needed sustenance, perfect for a student who is burning the candle at both ends!
Portuguese restaurants often add some pasta or rice to Cozido à Portuguesa to make it all the more hearty and you will often see this being served around Lisbon on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Where to eat in Coimbra
When studying in Coimbra, we would recommend visiting Salão Brazil, or Brazil Room, an Art-Nouveau influenced former billiards room, which has been converted into a music and exhibitions venue as well as a bar and restaurant space. The Portuguese-Brazilian link is pretty obvious when sampling Portuguese food anywhere but it’s nowhere more evident than at this spacious restaurant.
Located in the heart of down town Coimbra, this is a popular spot for those out and about. If you’re looking to combine some classic Portuguese cuisine while getting a Latino infused jazz music fix, you should look no further – this place has been attracting students in Coimbra since 2004.
Salão Brazil serves ever changing daily specials for lunch or dinner. It’s popular with students and locals like – during the day you can sample light meals (think expertly prepared tapas) in the spacious dining room. By night, expect a sultry vibe as diners sip wine, listen to live music and dance the night away.
What to eat in Porto
Porto loves food, from traditional local dished to cutting-edge cuisine. This is great if you’ve chosen to study in Porto, as you’ll be spoilt for choice on what to eat and where!
Having said that, there may be no dish from Porto more popular than the Francesinha and this is something you’ll absolutely have to try! Everyone’s got their own favourite version of Porto’s famous multi-layered sandwich, but the core of it remains the same. The Francesinha is filled with four or five different meats (sorry, Vegetarians!), covered in cheese and drowned in sauce. No one really knows what’s in the sauce, and each chef has their own secret ingredients, but beer is normally the base.
You can enjoy Franceshina in many restaurants in Porto, and a lot of them will claim to have the best, so you’ll just have to sample as many as you can and make up your own mind!
Don’t forget to try sardines
Finally, you can’t really embrace Portuguese food and culture without sampling fresh sardines. The Portuguese love fish any time of year but come summer it’s tough to have a snack or meal that doesn’t include sardines. They’re cooked everywhere, even on the streets!
To enjoy sardines in the most traditional way, head to one of the many waterside restaurants in the early evening for grilled sardines serviced with a glass of Vinho Verde (a semi-sparkling white wine). This light, bubbly, crisp white wine is drank all across the country but really is the perfect accompaniment for freshly grilled sardines. Not only are grilled sardines absolutely delicious, they are also super healthy; that’s what we call a double win!
Booking your student accommodation in Portugal
We hope you enjoyed our brief insight into the incredible food choices that are available in Porto, Coimbra and Lisbon and indeed, across Portugal. Undoubtedly, you’ll continue exploring this great gastronomic scene on your own, but hopefully our guide has provided a useful starting point!
Should you be on your way to Porto, Coimbra or Lisbon for your studies, then why not check out our luxury student accommodation. We have some of the best properties available when it comes to style and sophistication and you can learn more about Collegiate Portugal and our unrivalled accommodation by clicking here.