On my recent visits to Porto I have been lucky enough to have eaten at some of the most fantastic restaurants, all recommended by locals, from great brunch spots to the most divine vegetarian restaurants. I now have so many recommendations to share that there are far too many to include in one post, so I’ve split it up into sections. The first…desserts! Obviously. Because cake is the most important food group especially when the Portuguese seem to do them so well.
The streets of Porto (which you can wander afterwards to burn off all those sugar-filled calories) are full of cafés and sweet pastry shops. The Portuguese coffee culture gives you an excuse to enjoy something sweet alongside your morning, afternoon and/or evening espresso.
So here is my list of the best places for dessert in Porto. Warning…there are several photos of me enjoying said desserts because apparently I eat so many and enjoy them so much that it just has to be caught on camera.
O Melhor do Mundo Bolo de Chocolate
This place has to be at the top of the list as it’s pretty much the main reason for my return trip to Porto (will travel for food). The name of this café literally translates as “The Best Chocolate Cake in the World” and I have to agree with this sentiment. Sitting opposite the beachfront in Foz, the café is only tiny and very basic looking but once you try a spoonful of their indulgent cake you will think you’ve died and gone straight to heaven. A deliciously chocolatey heaven.
You can choose the cocoa level of your cake – I prefer darker at around 70% giving it a pure dark Portuguese richness. The crispy flaky edge perfectly complements the layers of gooey moosey chocolately ganache. God, my mouth filled with saliva just thinking about it! I have actually renamed it “Orgasmic Chocolate Cake” because it is so satisfying that it is indeed orgasmic. On my second visit here, instead of just ordering a slice, I ended up buying an entire cake! Not even the slightest bit of shame.
pasteis de nata – Manteigaria
Every trip to Portugal should include at least one or two pasteis de nata. I knew Manteigaria was one of the most popular places to get the Portuguese custard tart in Lisbon so as soon as I spotted one of their bakeries in Porto I pretty much ran straight across the street to get one, even though we had not long ago had brunch.
Go for the darker topped pasteis which are slightly better cooked with the flakiest of pastry crusts, sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and enjoy with an espresso. Perfect!
éclair – Leitaria da Quinta do Paco
Honestly the most gigantic éclairs I have ever had the pleasure of eating. London’s Maitre Choux and Paris’ L’Éclair de Génie don’t even come close. The classic éclair bursting with chantilly cream and topped with milk chocolate icing is divine enough but your taste buds will thank you for trying their range of special flavours. Passionfruit, red berries, Ferrero Rocher, caramel, coffee, lemon, dark chocolate. I didn’t have quite THAT many éclairs all to myself but I do recommend indulging in a box of several different flavours so you can give them all a try. And maybe share them if you really must.
gelato – Cremosi
Delectable handcrafted ice cream with a huge range of weird and wonderful flavours that vary each time I’ve been there. Sample a few spoonfuls before buying to see what takes your fancy. Alcoholic flavours such as port wine or mojito alongside the chocolatey Kinder Bueno or stracciatella or the more exotic mango or banana with cookies. Decisions decisions! There are several locations around Porto but my favourite is the store in Foz which is open late into the evening, so on a warm night (or a sunny day) it’s lovely to enjoy your gelato while taking a stroll along the riverfront.
ovos moles – Confeitaria Peixinho
Not far from Porto, in the pretty town of Aveiro, the sweet confectionery Ovos Moles can be found. Traditionally created by nuns who were fed up of fasting (they sound like my kind of ladies), they are made from a mixture of creamy egg yolk and sugar inside a rice paper casing or wafer, that come in a variety of nautical shapes relating to the area such as shells, fish and boats. Sound weird? Yes, it is weird – that is the only word I can use to describe this dessert! But the sugary goodness should not be missed if you make a day trip here. Or better yet try the small cake versions which are more doughy, coated in sugar and a little less weird.
croissant – Mixpão
I am an extremely big lover of the traditional French croissant but Portuguese croissants go one step further with a sweeter, heavier, more doughy consistency making it more like a cake. Clearly I am going to be a huge advocate of a pastry croissant that tastes like a cake, making every bite just a little naughtier. A flaky pain au chocolate cannot compare to Portugal’s chocolate croissants – soft, warm, sugary and oozing with thick rich chocolate. If you have a croissant for breakfast every day in Portugal I can guarantee you will put on a few pounds!
There are many padarias (bakeries) all over the city serving croissants and pastries but the ones from Mixpão were simply divine. Other popular varieties of croissant are white chocolate, simple (plain sprinkled with sugar), a sweet croissant filled with egg yolk cream (similar to the Ovos Moles dessert above) or savoury ham and cheese, but I would pick the chocolate croissant above the rest every single time.
What’s your favourite dessert you’ve found abroad? Where would you travel for food? Let me know in the comments below or at: