Porto Food Tour
Beyond the Barrel: From Decadent to Down-home in the Heart of Porto
Quick Bite: Join this food tour to spend a day getting to know Porto’s lesser-known food traditions, local institutions and its heroes in the kitchen.
Porto is a postcard-perfect city, its beauty easily captured in a single frame — monumental churches dressed in deep blue tiles line a steep street opening up onto a view over the Douro River to Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of the river, where the city’s famed Port wine lodges and their iconic billboards dot the hill. A visit to Porto is often distilled into just such an image, quite pleasantly, but it barely scratches the surface of the city.
Dig a little deeper into the backstreets and we find the complexities and contrasts of city life and all of the culinary diversity that comes with it. Porto is a place where century-old opulent Parisian-style cafes, sometimes staffed by tuxedoed waiters, can be found not far from rustic cheese-and-sausage shops run by the descendants of poor migrants from Northern Portugal. More contrasts abound: Walk around Porto and you will encounter octogenarian Portuguese shoe cobblers sharing the street with Bangladeshi grocers, while hidden behind former palaces are neat and tidy shanties. And, while this is the city that gave the world the refinement of Port wine, it is also the home of the gutbuster Francesinha, a working-man’s sandwich we’d only eat to win a bet.
Dig a little deeper into the backstreets and we find the complexities and contrasts of city life and all of the culinary diversity that comes with it.
On this full-day culinary exploration, with at least ten tasting stops, we’ll experience both sides of the city, from the decadent to the down-home. We’ll start with the city’s favorite pastry, the éclair, and strong coffee before setting off into the city center to see some hidden spots from the belle époque of Porto, including a third generation chocolate-maker. We’ll then plunge into the backstreets around the São Bento train station, where migrants from the North arrived to start their new lives. We’ll stop into a tavern for a quick petisco of octopus and then visit a traditional cheese shop and meet the man behind the counter, a cheese-maker himself. Working our way toward the lunch hour, we’ll sample two of Porto’s famed sandwiches at lunch counters crowded with locals. We’ll engage in an ongoing debate of whether or not it is sacrilege to slather the pork shank sandwich with funky sheep’s milk queijo from Serra de Estrela. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
From here, we will head out into a working-class neighborhood, originally mainly built to house textile workers, where the spirit of the city’s most important feast, St. John (São João), is kept alive by neighborhood associations. Here, among the boisterous residents, we will have an unforgettable caldo verde soup, the traditional food of that festival.
Along the way we’ll visit a former convent to taste the eggy sweets once made within its walls, before wandering the narrow lanes of the historic Sé area, in the shadow of Porto’s medieval cathedral.
Finally, we’ll belly up to the counter for a tasting of small production port wine at a traditional family-run shop. Although our day will be spent going beyond the barrel, this being Porto, we must ultimately also contemplate the barrel.
Fee includes everything consumed on the walk. Some special features:
|Residential neighborhood||Often includes a home visit|
|Children welcome||Fairly Easy terrain but has some stairs|
|No vegetarian alternatives at 5 stops; cannot accommodate a vegan diet||Samples alcohol|
|No gluten-free alternatives at 4 stops||Can be altered for a dairy-free diet|
What is included in the fee? In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – almost a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price. A limited selection of alcohol is served on the walks and is included in the price.
Why is the Culinary Backstreet tour more expensive than some other walking tours? Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for. We practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.
How does the payment process work? Once you have made a reservation, we require the full fee to be paid in order to complete the online booking. Your card will not be charged until the booking is accepted. Our online booking system uses Stripe to process secure payments.
What is your cancellation policy? 100% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more.
Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them? Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk? Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to join multiple walks.
Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies? This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at email@example.com to discuss your situation before booking. Nut allergies can be accommodated on our Porto culinary walk.
Are your walks suitable for vegetarians and pescatarians? This walk is not great for vegetarians or pescatarians: vegetarians will have to skip 5 stops and pescatarians will have to skip 3 stops.
Are your walks suitable for a gluten-free diet? This walk is not great for gluten-free diets: there will be no gluten-free alternatives at 4 stops.
Are your walks suitable for participants who do not eat fish, seafood or pork? Participants who do not eat fish will have to skip 1 stop; those who do not eat seafood will have to skip 2 stops; those who do not eat pork will have to skip 4 stops on our Porto culinary walk.
How physically demanding are the walks? The walk covers a few kilometers of fairly flat terrain, broken up into almost a dozen stops over almost 6 hours. Please note that Porto does have many hills and the streets and sidewalks of Lisbon can be cobblestone, therefore, we do recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes.
Can children join the walks? Of course! We offer a 50% discount to children ages 12 and under, and we do not charge for children under the ages 6 and under.
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over? Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own. Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
How much food will I get to try? This is really up to you. We generally make between 9 and 12 eating stops on our walk and try to include some breaks from eating along the way. The price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our walks often involve street food and sharing food.