When most people think of food from Europe, their mind usually jumps to Italian pasta, French crepes, or British fish n’ chips. I doubt many people think of Portugal for its culinary arts. Most people probably don’t even know what they eat in Portugal—I know I didn’t before I traveled there! But while living there for six weeks, I learned of some of the unique foods Portugal has to offer, and I was not disappointed.

Bacalhau à Brás

The most famous dish in Portugal is called bacalhau à brás. This is a sort of casserole made with salted codfish, egg, and potatoes. When I tried it for the first time, I immediately wrote down the name so that I could try to make it when I went home. Unfortunately, salted codfish is hard to come by, so it may be worth a trip to Portugal just to taste this dish.

Bife na Pedra

Bife na Pedra, translated in English to “steak on the rock” is a unique concept. You are served a large slab of raw steak, a knife, and a sizzling hot rock. You then have the task of cutting off bite-sized pieces of meat, searing it on both sides for a few seconds on the hot rock, and then eating it. Not only is it an entertaining way to eat your meal, but it also ensures the last bite of steak is as fresh and hot as the first.


One city in Portugal, Évora, is known for serving leitão: roasted piglet. Although it sounds cruel (and if you are a lover of baby pigs or the movie Babe, I wouldn’t recommend looking up a picture), it sure does taste delicious.

Pastéis de Nata

Save room for dessert. Pastéis de Nata are Portugal’s famous cream-filled pastries. They can’t be explained or compared with anything; you just have to try one. You can find them fresh on the street or buy them in the freezer aisle at the grocery store to be heated up later. And the good news, for people with Celiac disease (like me), you can even find some that are gluten free!

These were a few of my favorite foods that I tried while I was in Portugal, but the list doesn’t end there. You may just have to take a trip to Portugal to try it all for yourself. And if the food alone has already convinced you to go, I won’t even get started on the sights to see . . .


—Sarah Romney