The famous Porto Francesinha – A full belly the local way

Was out in Portugal with the lads on a brilliant road trip celebrating my 30th. Yep, I’m officially in my thirties now (yipes!). We started off up in Porto in the north of Portugal and worked our way down the country to end up in the seaside resort of Albufeira. Plenty of adventures along the way, and plenty more things that were “Outside The Guidebook” 😉

Porto is a nice sleepy town by the Portuguese coast, north of Lisbon. We flew into it on a hot Saturday afternoon and picked up our car at the airport. While waiting to sign the papers on the vehicle, one of my friends who goes by the name “H” (yep, that’s what he calls himself) told us that his Portuguese mates back in London had insisted we try the famous local Porto dish of Francesinha. Never needing an excuse to eat and get stuffed, we got possession of our new wheels and dutifully proceeded to do just that.

After some asking around at the amazing Gallery Hostel where we were put up, and even more asking around on the steep, hilly, cobble stoned streets of Porto, we finally made it to Cafe Santiago. Apparently the most famous Francesinha in all of Porto is served there. The menu presented us with a myriad of options on the dish. Johnny, another good friend along on the holiday, decided to go for the simplest of the Francesinha’s while the rest of us went for the “built up” (read: more expensive and fancy looking) versions. In the end we all decided that Johnny’s dish was the best of the lot. And the cheapest.

Watch this little video of the cafe with a shot of the menu page. In this case, cheap is certainly the best!



For anyone going to Porto, taking in a good helping or two of the local Francesinha is a must. It is one of the most famous dishes to come from the region. What is not so famous is the fact that the simple, traditional Francesinha has metamorphosed into a touristy behemoth in many of the local menus. An unfortunate result of the burgeoning tourist trade in the region. No worries though, for you’ve got at hand to let you in on the secrets 😀

Remember, go for the cheapest, most no frills Francesinha you can find in the menu and you can rest assured that you will be dining like the locals, and paying like them too! Here’s a snapshot of what the Francesinha’s look like in all their saucy glory – on the bottom left is the traditional “no frills” simple Francesinha on Johnny’s plate:


Francesinha in Porto, Portugal

Tasty Francesinha. Yummy!!


Here is Cafe Santiago’s website. It is in Portuguese so you might want to translate it using Google Translate or something similar for English literature. Have a good meal and hope you enjoy the Francesinha, it’s quite a heavy meal!

If you liked the article and think your friends might enjoy it as well, why not share it using the buttons below. If you have been to Cafe Santiago or feasted on a plate of Francesinha anywhere or at anytime, do write in a comment further down and let me know about your experience.

9 comments to The famous Porto Francesinha – A full belly the local way

  • Nancy

    Sounds interesting but what is actually in this dish? That kind of info is always important to me. thanks!

    • OutsideTheGuidebook

      Excellent point Nancy. I’ve added a link to it’s Wiki entry above. Will keep your comment in mind for the future. Thank You! :-)

  • Mukunth

    Informative… A video does take me back by a decade..and o top that the expression of the guy next to u… jus like old times… am goin to watch out for ya updates !

    • OutsideTheGuidebook

      Ha ha, dude, those were our uni days aye. Am coming over to India shortly, so we can maybe make a trip to good old Chidambaram to have a go at the Peg ‘n Mug 😀

  • Aye, a Francesinha is on the cards, though I have a tip for a little waterfront place over the river in Vila Gaia. Will have another look at the Gallery Hostel. I want to be near Sao Bento station, if possible.
    2 years in New Zealand sounds good. You have a job to go to?

    • OutsideTheGuidebook

      Gallery Hostel is great if you’re looking for a good vibey hostel on your holiday. Pretty central too. Am not too sure of the local geography as we only spent one day there on our road trip Joanna, but am sure you will get some good Francesinha in the other place too. It is the local speciality after all !!

      No job lined up in New Zealand yet. Hopefully will make some contacts along the way, in my journeys in South East Asia, and not have to look for one for too long when I do get there in Jan 2013.

  • This looks delicious, even if I don’t know for sure what it is. I always try to eat the local specialty and am usually happy I did. I’ll remember this if I’m ever lucky enough to visit Portugal.

  • I am from Porto and I must say that Francesinha is really a piece of heaven. And Café Santiago is also one of my favourite places, good choice! Check out on my blog the best places to eat a Francesinha on the city, hope you like it :)

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