Food and Drink

Food and drink in Portugal is varied and on these pages you will find information about the food and drink culture. We mention some wine producers in the area.  Our restaurant pages have a selection serving traditional and modern Portuguese cuisine.


Pastries and cakes  are popular with some pastelarias (pastry shops) proudly  advertising that they bake their own (fabrico  próprio).

The Moors and later the Christians from convents and monasteries left their influence in recipes for cakes and sweets. Marzipan cakes filled with egg yolk are similar to sweets served in North Africa and the Middle East.

Examples of sweets from the convents are the barriga de freira,  a sweet made with bread, egg yolk and sugar.  Toucinho do ceu  is a cake with ground almonds, sugar,  flour and eggs.

The pastel de nata is a custard tart. The most famous is at the Fábrica de Pasteis de Belém in Lisbon.   It is even a favourite with Dame Mary Berry, famous British cookery writer with TV programmes such as Mary Berry Classics, etc!!

Most regions seem to have their own pastry or cake.  Sintra is famous for its queijadas de Sintra  (cheese tarts).  Travesseiros, also from Sintra,  are pastries with sweet egg yolk and dusted with sugar. Mafra produces the fradinho (small monk) ground white beans, sugary egg yolk  in a pastry case.  Cascais produces areias de Cascais (‘sands of Cascais’) shortbread biscuits and the nozes de  Cascais – half walnuts covered in caramel.


These are smoked  pork sausages. There are different types of chouriços with varied seasonings.  They are used in traditional dishes such as cozido, feijoadaPresunto  is a cured ham and often served as a starter.


Portuguese cheese is produced in different regions. The most famous is the Serra, made in the Serra da Estrela area using only ewe’s milk.  It can be creamy or seasoned and it is much sought after. Fresh goat’s cheese, ‘queijo saloio‘ is a type of cottage cheese.   Produced in Lisbon and surrounding area of Loures.

Azeitão, near Setúbal, produces a cheese with a thin yellowish cover  using ewe’s milk and has a slight acid taste. The São Jorge or Queijo da Ilha comes from the Island of  S. Jorge in the Azores. Using cow’s milk it is the nearest to English cheddar. Serpa, a strong and sharp tasting cheese comes from  the Alentejo.  Évora produces a cheese from ewe’s milk or mixed with goat milk and tastes rough with a slight spicy taste.  Delicatessen sections of larger supermarkets sell a variety of cheeses.


Portugal produces very good wines with a range of prices. There are reds, whites and young wines (vinho verde)  produced in nearly every region. You can find wines from the Algarve in the South to the Douro in the North. Porto produces great red and white ports.

Some Portuguese liqueurs are the Triple Sec which tastes of orange and Amendoa Amarga with an almond taste. Brandy Mel is a mixture of brandy and honey. Moscatel is a sweet wine from Sétubal. You can ask for a glass in local bars. Supermarkets sell a wide range of wines. House wine that restaurants serve is usually at reasonable prices.


COFFEE drinking in Portugal is a serious affair.  Meeting friends in a café for a bica and a chat is a way of life.  Coffee or café is the basic beverage.

A strong coffee served in a small cup is a bica.  Often the fainthearted accompany it  with a glass of water.  A double is a café-duplo.  A coffee filled to the top of the small cup is a bica cheia.

An italiana is made with the same amount of coffee as a regular one. Only half as much water is used.  A normal coffee topped up with hot water is a carioca. A café topped up with milk garoto.  A bica com uma pinga is a coffee with a drop or two of brandy.  An instant decaffeinated coffee in a small cup is a descafeinadoCafé com leite is a coffee with milk.

A tall glass of hot milk with a little coffee added to it is a galão.  The bem escuro (dark) or a galão de máquina is a stronger version.  Tasting stronger it is a regular coffee made on the spot. A meia de leite de máquina is a coffee with milk. It is  half-filled with fresh strong coffee and half with hot milk.


Tea is Chá. Chá com limão is black tea served with a slice of lemon, not to be confused with the chá de limão – also known as a carioca de limão – hot water with lemon rind – a refreshing drink.

You can buy pastries, cakes and sandwiches in any coffee shop (café) or snack bar (cervejaria).


A visit to Portugal would not be complete without tasting the very good wines we produce.  If you have an opportunity do try visiting the wine producers in neighbouring areas.  An ideal day out to go with friends. For visits to any of these producers please call them to enquire about availability, prices and book in advance.

Quinta do Sanguinhal, Bombarral. Tel: +351-262609190. Email:

Quinta de Sant’Ana, Gradil, Mafra. Tel: +351-261963550. Email: website:

Adega Regional de Colares CRL, Colares, near Sintra.  Tel: +351-219291210. Email:

Adega Beira Mar. Av. Luis Augusto Colares, 70, Azenhas do Mar, Colares. Tel: +351-219292036. This winery is famous for its Chitas wine.


For a good selection of wines, liqueurs and ports visit the JOANINHA WINE SHOP at Rua Frederico Arouca, 202, Cascais.  Tel: +351-968514618.  Open 10am to 7pm.



For the best ice creams visit the famous Santini’s at Av. Valbom, 28, Cascais. It has been going for decades and produces its own. Open daily from 11am to midnight in the Summer.