Douro’s gastronomic treasures include hearty and flavorful dishes that fuel workers and families, fresh local produce, and centuries-old cooking techniques that are still upheld in typical Douro Valley restaurants or respectfully “updated” by local chefs. Here is our team's comprehensive list of our our favorite Douro Valley restaurants and must try regional dishes.
Types of Douro Valley Restaurants
Eat at a Typical Tasca
Head to a typical tasca or restaurant for the above specialities in their old school form, usually served in-tuned with the rotating weekly menu that ranges between 8-12€ ($9-14 USD) and includes a soup, main course, dessert and beverage.
Take note, one main course in these generous eateries is usually enough for two (Portuguese’s worst fear is to go home hungry) and Portugal is not Spain - restaurants serve from 12h-15h and 19h30h-22h30 (12-3 pm and 7:30-10:30 pm).
Eat at a Quinta
Taste some of Portugal’s best Chefs’ modern interpretations of Douro’s traditional cuisine and take your wine tasting experience full-circle at a Quinta’s restaurant or more “refined” establishment.
Here, the interior design, plating techniques, service, staff’s wine education, glassware, wine list, Chef’s training and highest-quality products make for a memorable meal definitely worth an extra couple bucks (still NOTHING close to what this flavour and experience would cost Stateside!)
Where to Eat in the Douro Valley
For a delicious, local, no-frills experience, Farah suggests:
- Cacho d’Oiro in Régua has a decent wine list and, amidst many things, serves Douro’s most succulent picanha (filet or rump steak) sliced right off the skewer and served with black beans, farofa, fried plantains, french fries and salad.
- Tasca da Quinta, tucked down a cobblestone street in Régua, is owned by a local winery and serves a variety of fresh and flavorful petiscos to share as well as nicely presented traditional dishes.
- Local winemakers’ favourite Cêpa Torta in Alijó has a great wine list and consistently delicious traditional dishes served with a tad bit more finesse (i.e. smaller portions, less olive oil and more vegetables). This was Michelin Chef Rui Paula and his wife’s brainchild before they segued into fine-dining and opened DOC in Folgosa.
- Restaurante Maria Rita, further out in Mirandela, is a gastronomic icon that locals flock to for the house specialities like Bacalhau à Romeu and açorda de espargos (bread pudding with wild asparagus and sausage) as well as quaff-able, organic red and white wines.
Farah’s favourite Quinta and finer-dining restaurants include:
- Quinta do Tedo’s Bistro Terrace’s beautiful presentation of seasonal produce through a fine-tuned menu that many meat-, fish- and veggie-lovers remember as their “favourite meal in Portugal”, surely complemented by the estate’s wines and olive oil and the cosy dining room’s breathtaking views.
- Quinta Nova’s Terraçus premium, molecular dining experience focuses on sustainable ingredients, sourced locally and prepared in elegant dishes that pair perfectly with the sommeliers’ wine suggestions.
- Quinta de la Rosa’s Cozinha da Clara looks out over Douro River in Pinhão and offers flavorful and innovative iterations of both Portuguese and international flavours prepared by a passionate Chef determined to make everything in-house, including the ice cream.
- Casa dos Ecos in Pinhão opened in 2020 as a pop-up restaurant and hasn’t closed since; Porto Michelin Star Chef’s Pedro Lemos’ renders simple, wood-fired oven-fired petiscos and wood-oven cooked into bundles of flavour served at the panoramic terrace or spacious dining room.
- Castas e Pratos in Régua’s renovated train station is hip, has an incredibly extensive wine selection and serves tapas at the wine bar downstairs, and creative regional and international dishes as well as beautiful desserts in a more formal dining room upstairs.
Quinta Nova’s Terraçus Restaurant
Finally, in between meals, check out O Pôrco in Pinhão for a smorgasbord of regional cheeses and charcuterie or Quinta de la Rosa’s informal patio, Tim’s Terrace, serving not only Douro’s best wood-fired oven pizzas but only craft beer (open Wednesday-Sunday during the summer from 13h-17h/1-5pm).
Where there is great wine there is great food! Douro’s gastronomic treasures include hearty and flavorful dishes that fuel workers and families, fresh local produce, and centuries-old cooking techniques that are still upheld in typical restaurants or respectfully “updated” by local chefs.
Below is a list of Farah’s favourite dishes, followed by some pointers on where to find them.
What to eat in the Douro Valley
Soups like caldo verde (potato and turnip greens) or sopa de legumes (light and vegetable-based) are ubiquitous starters for lunch à moda portuguesa (the Portuguese way). Normally, petiscos (tapas) replace soup to “open” one’s stomach for dinner.
Farah suggests the moelas (tender chicken gizzards cooked in a spiced sauce), alheira (typical sausage from Mirandela made with bread, garlic and, historically, with wild pigeon and rabbit, but more contemporarily with chicken and pork) and other enchidos (regional cured meats such as paio, salpicão, chouriço and Lamego’s famed presunto) and local cheeses.
Moving on to main dishes, try feijoada a transmontana (bean stew with a variety of “porky parts”), cozida a portuguesa (fall-apart beef and pork boiled with cabbage, potatoes and carrots) and wood-oven fired specialities like arroz de pato (duck confit rice), cabrito (baby goat typical of Armamar) and bacalhau com broa (cod with a cornbread crust).
If you have a hankering for vegetables, ask for couve (cabbage), grelos (turnip greens) or other legumes (vegetables) to sub in for the staple rice and potatoes or as a side dish. apart. During August, look out for tomate coração de boi-anything, made with succulent oxheart tomato that thrives in Douro.
Douro's Oxheart Tomate
While ripe, seasonal fruit like melão (honeydew melon) makes for a light and cleansing dessert, requeijão (fresh cheese similar to ricotta) with homemade quince or pumpkin jam is a typical alternative to Portuguese desserts that tend to be rather decadent.
But as you’re on vacation to enjoy yourself, ask for baba de camelo (“camel’s drool” caramel mousse), leite queimado (similar to créme brûlée), pudim abade priscos (dense flan), tarte de amêndoa (almond tart) or bolo borrachão (“drunken cake” cooked in Port) to share!
Refuel between meals with a slice of savoury bôla (fluffy dough filled with ham, chicken, cod and onions, or vinho de alho meat cooked in wine and garlic - the best are from Lamego’s Casa das Bolas) and a fino (Superbock or Sagres on draft), or a sweet cavaca de Resende (sponge cake soaked in orange-flower syrup) or pito de Santa Luzia (pastry filled with sweet pumpkin and cinnamon) with an espresso.
Remember, what grows together goes together - you can’t go wrong pairing Douro’s traditional flavours with its quaff-able vino de casa (house wine), award-winning Douro DOC wines and luscious Ports!
There you have it - a comprehensive list of where to eat, drink Douro Valley wines and make merry while visiting the Douro Valley!
Stay tuned for our next installment of Douro Valley insider tips when we share where to go and what to do to experience the unique culture of the Douro Valley to the fullest.