Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What to eat for lunch in Porto: Francesinha, a quintessential Porto fast food

So the north of Portugal and the city of Porto have its own celebrated fastfood called ‘Francesinha’ which means—Little Frenchie. The food was invented in the 1960’s by a returned emigrant who have lived in Belgium and France. If you want to know more about its history, please go here: Francesinha

Nevertheless, because I am in Porto, I have to try it! Although, honestly, I was totally dreading the moment of truth. I’m not a sandwich and meat person, and eeewww that sauce made me feel faint, haha, so I kind of wanted to skip this lunch, but then I gathered myself, convinced to do this at least once in my life.

Francesinha, Porto’s fast food


It has always been a rule for me to try the local stuff when travelling. I have limitations with my tasting the local cuisine sprees of course but Francesinha is not as gross as it may seem. So off I went looking for a café restaurant on the Cais Ribiera, the lovely river boulevard of Porto, offering this notorious snack. I did not really have to look further because every café and restaurant has it on the menu!

I settled in at a very cool and modern glazed pavilion restaurant with a terrace right on the river—Cafe do Cais. The café restaurant is made of glass and has beautiful views of the Douro River and the town across, Vila Nova de Gaia.

So for the curious....

Francesinha is a sandwich toast filled with slices of ham and roast beef, some chorizo, coated all over with melted cheese, topped with a sunny side up egg , then doused with hot thick tomato & beer sauce, and finally, served with French fries. It is best paired with a beer and best eaten for lunch or as a mid-afternoon snack. Warning: This is a heavy meal!

So what do I think of Francesinha?

I have a name for it—HANGOVER FOOD. Calorific heart-attack inducer hangover food.

Seriously, it’s the kind of food suitable for men, and for those who are recovering from an aftermath of evening partying with lots of booze, and well, you can add football into the mix as well. But it is tasty. It is just not for me.

My Porto lunch on Portos riverside


It was a lovely day so I decided to sit outside on the terrace. A cold glass of beer arrived first. Francesinha is best paired with beer.



Ooops, my apologies for my lack of social grace but my weary feet were aching from walking the whole morning so I had to put them up to rest. There was no one near me anyway =). I did put my feet down when other guests arrived.


Inside the Cafe do Cais pavilion restaurant.


Ah, the meal finally arrived!


This is Francesinha on hot thick tomato and beer sauce. Either it is for you or not for you. It was not for me.


I really tried but I could not finish it =(


If  you are visiting Porto, try Francesinha, just for the heck of it. Who knows, you might just like it?

On the other hand, Cafe do Cais is a lovely and refreshing place situated on the quayside. Perfect place to sit back and people watch whilst having lunch (or a drink).

Travel Period: March 2013
Destination: Porto (Grande Porto), Portugal

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