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The Hottest Dishes in the Coolest Spots

The Hottest Dishes in the Coolest Spots

by Clare Christopher

Once again, travel experts are ranking Portugal as one of the best places to visit in the world – not to mention, one the countries with the most unique and delicious cuisine.  Check out our picks for the must-try foods in the year’s must-visit spots around Portugal:

Francesinha in Porto

National Geographic Traveller says Porto is a must-visit city this year. Why? The food, obviously! This year, the Time Out Market food hall in Lisbon will open a sister branch in Portugal’s northern foodie capital, famous around the globe for its locally-produced wine, meats, bread and vegetables. Luckily, for those short on time or money, the francesinha delivers all of Porto’s delicacies in one massive sandwich:  Bread, ham, sausage, roast meat, cheese and French fries covered in tomato and beer sauce. Eat one for lunch and you’re fed for the day!

São Jorge Cheese in The Azores

Raclette Ham Food Cheese

Called the “next Iceleand” in Lonely Planet’s roundup of must-visit regions of the year, The Azores beckon with volcanic peaks, historic ports, scenic treks through lush greenery, and lots and lots pastureland for cows that produce fully half of Portugal’s cheese. Renown for its salty, edgy tang, the São Jorge cheese will be as good as the best Parmesan you’ve ever tasted.

Arroz de Polvo com Camaroes in Comporta

Octopus_Rice

When The New York Times travel editors call out a relatively unknown beach town, you can bet it won’t be unknown for long. This year, Comporta, a stretch of beach only one hour from Lisbon made The Times’ “Places to Visit” list – and why shouldn’t it? Perfect sand, sunsets and seafood combine for a blissful seaside stop. You really can’t go wrong eating anything here: Fish and shellfish are pulled daily from the Atlantic and rice is pulled from paddies in the nearby marshes. Pick a dish that combines both – like arroz de polvo com camaroes (octopus rice with shrimp) – and you’ll achieve foodie nirvana.

Leitão Assado in Fátima

Leitão_à_Bairrada

Without a doubt, the most popular town in Portugal this year will be Fátima – even Pope Francis will visit in May! The centennial anniversary of the appearance of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children will draw millions of Catholic pilgrims from around the world to the town north of Lisbon. Even non-Catholics will appreciate the peace, devotion and cultural traditions on display at the sanctuary. Tourists can sample all of Portugal’s traditional dishes – including bacalhau (salt cod) and bife á marrare (“brown” steak) – in town, but locals say the leitão assado (suckling pig) found in Fátima is especially succulent: A plate at Mister Leitao’s lunch counter will bring even non-pilgrims to their knees.

Pasteis de Belém in Lisbon

Portuguese traditional pasteis de belem or pasteis de nata | Portugal.com

Art critics are hailing Portugal’s new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology that opened in October 2016. As if the Tower of Belém, Jerónimos Monastery, Monument to the Discoveries and the Coach Museum weren’t enough reasons to head over to Lisbon’s Belém district, the high design MAAT adds yet another world-class museum to the country’s resume. While you’re in Belém, don’t miss tasting the country’s most famous pastel de nata, locally called a pastel de Belém and first made by the monastery’s monks here in 1837. The perfectly sweet, egg-y tart is so addictive that its popularity spread not only across Portugal but around the world as well: You can try a version of pastel de nata in bakeries from Brazil to Angola to Goa to China to the U.S.

Sardinhas Assadas in Portimão

Grilled sardines are one of Portugal’s most popular dishes but locals insist the best are found at one of the many dockside cafes in Portimão. The toughest decision here will not be which restaurant to choose but which side of the sardine to eat first! (Be sure you know how to eat grilled sardines like a Portuguese.) Portimão is one of the many picturesque Mediterranean fishing villages of The Algarve, home to epic beaches, stunning rock formations, historic architecture and the honor of being named the world’s “best value” destination. Fish lovers should plan to visit during the annual Sardine Festival in August  – because there’s nothing more delicious and less expensive than grilled fish by the sea.

Caldo Verde in Minho

When Fodor put together its annual “Go List” of inspirational travel destinations, the medieval northern region of Minho made the list. Home to walled cities, ancient castles, historical cathedrals and some of Portugal’s very oldest settlements, Minho is also known as the home of caldo verde, a famous Portuguese stew of kale, potatoes, onions and chouriço sausage. Served with a slice of broa, the rustic cornmeal and rye bread, a bowl of caldo verde will keep you nourished for a full day of touring Minho’s historical wonders.

 

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