Porto is a beautiful city with lots to offer. Once overshadowed by the more popular capital, Porto has become a must-see destination in recent years.
Porto is home to the most beautiful bookshop in the world (and the inspiration behind Hogwarts), is packed full of stunning architecture, and is the entrance to the Douro Valley (known for its port wines). If that wasn’t enough to convince you, the city is covered in fantastic street art and within a 30-minute bus ride you can be dipping your feet in the sea!
Travelling as a vegan does pose its challenges. You might think you’d be lacking in options while in Portugal, a country well known for its love of seafood, meat, and cheese. While this may have been true in years past, Portugal is embracing vegan culture and you will not be short on options if you visit.
If you are considering visiting Porto, check out this vegan guide to make sure you try all the traditional Portuguese dishes and pastries.
An intro to Portuguese cuisine
Before we jump in, let’s take a look at some traditional foods you are likely to see in Porto so you can keep an eye out for the veganised versions!
PASTEL DE NATA
It would be remiss to start anywhere else. The pastel de nata is a custard tart and a Portuguese staple. They date all the way back to the 18th century believing to have originated in a monastery in Lisbon. Take a walk around the city and you will see locals eating one of these while sipping on an espresso, costing them the grand total of €1.50.
The unofficial national dish of Portugal. Bacalhau is a dried salted cod, a technique used to preserve the fish in the days before refrigeration and is still incredibly popular. Considered to be a delicacy, it is used in many dishes but is typically served with boiled potatoes and vegetables, and garnished with olives.
Vegan versions can use hearts of palm, jackfruit, or banana blossom as cod alternatives.
Francesinhas actually originate from Porto but are now found all over the country. The name stands for ‘little French women’ likely due to the French-inspired ingredients and similarities to a Croque Monsieur.
Francesinhas are a very hearty sandwich consisting of thick white bread filled with ham, sausage, steak, and cheese. The sandwich is topped with more cheese which is melted and finally, a beer/tomato sauce is added. Sometimes, a fried egg will also be put on top. This is not a sandwich you can eat with your hands unless you plan on being covered in a cheesy sauce. It is usually served with a side of chips to make a very filling meal.
While this sounds like the most un-vegan of foods, there are actually quite a few restaurants across Porto that make a pretty good vegan francesinha, so you don’t have to miss out on this local dish!
Vegan-friendly restaurants in Porto
This is Porto’s first fully vegan bar and restaurant. A super laid-back space, serving the likes of tapas, burgers, and burritos, plus a great selection of craft beers!
It is the perfect place to bring friends or even sit and have a meal by yourself. If you visit on the right night, they have live performances and in the warmer months, you can enjoy your meal in the garden. An added bonus is that dogs are very much welcome so your canine companion can join you.
Must try: the no-chicken burger with a side of French fries
If you are looking for a fancy date night spot look no further than Jardineiro. A beautiful restaurant with a warm feeling established by the smaller intimate setting. The service is incredibly attentive, offering spot-on food and wine recommendations. The food is inspired by local seasonal produce and global flavours. After dinner, you can sit and have a cocktail at the cosy bar by the entrance to the restaurant.
Must try: the menu changes seasonally, however, if it is still on the menu when you visit you can not go wrong with the Jardin de chocolate (the chocolate garden with raspberry, peanut, and salty caramel). This dessert is large enough to share but if you have enough room the creme brûlée is also a hit.
You will see these dotted around the city although the best one can definitely be found in the Bom Sucesso Market. Da terra is an all-you-can-eat vegan buffet with a range of hot and cold meals. The food is healthy with lots of salads, rice, soups, and tofu. For the very reasonable price of €9, you can eat all the vegan food you could want. If you prefer, you can also get takeaway but eating in is a great option as you can keep going back for more.
The Bom Sucesso Market location is the best place to try Da Terra as you can sample a range of wines from the various stalls in the market. If you’ve got non-vegan friends who are also looking for a meal they can come along as there are loads of non-vegan meals on offer as well.
Must try: as the meals change over the week nothing in particular can be recommended but anything with tofu is always good.
A small fully vegan restaurant serving a relaxed menu of bowls, burgers, toasties, and more. A popular spot in the heart of Porto, this is an excellent place to grab a bite to eat. They also have quite a few gluten-free options, including burgers which can be served on a thick slice of gluten-free sourdough. The decor is lovely with a painted arched ceiling. It is usually busy around lunchtime but expect to only wait 10-15 minutes for a table.
If you are looking to try a vegan francesinha, here is a great place to do it. Using tofu and vegan sausages, this francesinha is a delicious lunch option!
Must try: the potato wedges are stupidly good alongside the crispy seitan & bacon burger
Nicolau was first opened in Lisbon and they now have 4 restaurants across the city. It has become such a popular brand they have opened in Porto, and you’ll be glad they have! The restaurant is right in the mix of all the nightlife and bars, making it a great place to bring friends. This is not a vegan restaurant and you won’t find loads of vegan options, but what is on offer is very tasty. This restaurant can get super busy so, if possible, book!
Must try: sautéed chickpeas with quinoa salad. They top this with salted turmeric granola, which is amazing, and creamy pink hummus.
Cafes and bakeries in Porto
You won’t be short on cafes in Porto serving you not only Pastel de natas but also cakes, ice cream, and stacks of pancakes. Dive into Porto’s cafe culture and see how many you can visit during your trip.
My Green Pastry
This is a little out of the main town but means you get to explore a bit more of Porto and can sit and eat your pastry overlooking a park. My Green Pastry offers all vegan pastries and even some gluten-free options.
Must try: the selection of pastries on offer depends on the day. If it’s available when you visit, the custard flan (similar to a pastel de nata) is a delicious option.
A cute little bakery serving cakes, pastries, and sandwiches as well as vegan bread to take home with you! Get there early so as not to miss out on all the amazing vegan pastries.
Must try: the cinnamon roll which is so soft and covered in the perfect amount of icing and cinnamon sugar
No holiday is complete without ice cream and Gelatopia might just have the best in town. They do not scrimp on serving sizes and they swap out their vegan flavours pretty regularly. The shop is quite close to the river so grab your ice cream and stroll down to the waterfront to watch the hustle and bustle.
Must try: the chocolate sorbet
If you are a brunch person, you must try Nola Kitchen. A small busy cafe with a big menu of pancakes, avocado toast, and cake to kick start your day with. Nola stands for no labels and they focus on using real, healthy, and tasty foods. They have seating outside so you can watch the shoppers and passers-by while eating a thick stack of pancakes.
Must try: the banana bread is served warm and topped with cashew and coconut butter, with melted dark chocolate. If you are not a banana bread person the pumpkin pancakes are out of this world with cashew and lemon cream and topped with a date-miso caramel.
Port in Porto
If you are in Porto you are going to see a lot of port wine and probably want to try it as well. Most of the port you see comes from the Douro Valley which isn’t far from Porto and provides the perfect conditions to grow the grapes needed to make port wine.
Porto offers many different port tastings and tours. On one side of the river, you’ll see the cellars and tasting rooms of many famous port manufacturers such as Sandeman or Burmester.
Unfortunately, not all ports are vegan and this is due to the manufacturing process where they filter the wine through animal parts. The Sandeman port wine is not vegan, but you can find vegan port from Burmester but only if it was made after 2019. If you really want to try some, call ahead to the tasting venue and see what they have to offer!
Prefer wine to port? Click here to discover vegan winemakers (including one from Douro Valley).
Vegan options in supermarkets
You will find vegan options in Porto supermarkets, it just depends on where you go. The smaller corner shops usually have a more limited range of vegan options and can be pricey. Thankfully, the larger shops such as Mercadona, Cotinente, or Pingo Doce do have a better range so you can get tofu, vegan meats, cheese, and milk. They also have a Lidl and Aldi which have a similar fare to the English version. Out of all these options, Lidl and Aldi are definitely the most budget-friendly.
If you want to buy local fruits and veg, you definitely need to head to Mercado do Bolhao. A covered market offering fruits, veg, meats, cheeses, bread, and a great variety of spices. This is a mix of locals doing their weekly shops and tourists picking up some treats to take back home. If you really want the best shopping experience, head to either of the two wine stalls to grab a glass of wine to drink while you shop!
Portuguese vegan phrases
When visiting Porto you’ll note that many of the locals speak very good English. Despite this, it is polite to try and learn a few phrases and it helps to know some key vegan words so you know what to look for on menus or in the supermarket.
Vegan – Vegano/vegana
Vegan food – Comida vegana
Meat – Carne
Fishs – Peixe
Milk – Leite
Soy milk – Leite de soja
Plant milk – Leite vegetal
Butter – Manteiga
Egg – Ovos
Cheese – Queijo
This is just a short list to get you started, but if you want to learn more phrases check out these Portuguese vegan travel phrases.
Enjoy exploring Porto
If you are thinking of heading abroad this year, make sure to add Porto to your must-visit list. Find out what all of Porto has to offer, making sure to try the local speciality, the vegan francesinha, followed by an espresso and pastel de nata.
Whether you are a hardcore vegan or just looking to try something new, Porto has something for everyone! Happy exploring!
If you enjoyed this vegan food guide to Porto and want to explore some more, check out the vegan travel section of our website!