José Avillez recommends the Francesinha sandwich here, at his eponymous restaurant, Cantinho do Avillez


José Avillez’s foodie guide to Porto

Jose Avillez
José Avillez


Superchef José Avillez, the man behind Lisbon’s two-Michelin-starred Belcanto and a host of hip eateries, is renowned for his creative, contemporary and playful take on Portuguese cuisine. Here, he shares his insider guide to the best culinary hotspots in Portugal’s second-largest city – Porto

Breakfast spot worth getting up early for

Majestic Café is one of Porto’s oldest cafés. Charming, with a unique belle époque spirit, it’s said that JK Rowling spent many hours here when writing the first Harry Potter book. Order a cimbalino (espresso) and eat French toast or a warm scone – it’s a little expensive, but worth it for the inspiring atmosphere. 

Somewhere to impress a date

In the heart of Vila Nova de Gaia, historical headquarters of the port wine industry, is the smart Yeatman hotel. A dinner at its two-Michelin-starred restaurant, run by my good friend, chef Ricardo Costa, is one of the best meals you’ll eat in Porto. His tasting menus include dishes such as tropical suckling pig with papaya and mango, and roasted John Dory with pata negra. Jaw-dropping panoramic views over the river Douro make it an even more memorable experience. Afterwards, enjoy a glass of port in the hotel’s rooftop bar.

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Sample contemporary Portuguese cuisine at Cantinho do Avillez Porto

Best ‘grab-and-go’ eaterie

Porto is heaven for pastry lovers; sample a few at Confeitaria Petúlia or Confeitaria do Bolhão. But, if you are looking for a classic bite, ask for a Francesinha – a tasty sandwich with cheese, ham and meat sauce. The recipe is a well-kept Porto secret. Try one at Cufra or at Cantinho do Avillez Porto (pictured top of page) if you are curious to taste my reinterpretation of this traditional recipe.

Foodie souvenir to take home

Bolo Rei, a Portuguese Christmas cake. At Confeitaria Petúlia they bake these delicious rings of sweet dough with dried fruits and nuts, decorated with crystallised fruits and a dusting of sugar, every day – not just during the festive season.

Cool hangout where kids are welcome

Serralves Park at the Serralves Foundation has 18 hectares of magnificent gardens, woodlands and a farm to explore. Have a quick meal at the relaxed restaurant, then simply enjoy family time in beautiful, natural surroundings.

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Most daring cocktails

Cool new speakeasy-style bar The Royal Cocktail Club (pictured above) is dedicated to serving up original and surprising cocktails.

Local legend

Casa Aleixo near Campanhã railway station is the place in the city for octopus fans to visit. It’s famed for its octopus fillets, and rightly so.

Dining experience worth leaving the city for

Casa de Chá da Boa Nova a Michelin-starred seafood restaurant in Matosinhos (pictured below). Set in a teahouse built in 1963 by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, the light-filled, low-slung building is an architectural wonder in itself, and its location is no less spectacular – on the rocks at the edge of a sandy beach, overlooking the ocean. 

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Interview by Ianthe Butt

José Avillez has 10 restaurants in Lisbon including the two-Michelin-starred Belcanto, and newly opened multi-concept/foodie hub Barrio do Avillez, as well as Cantinho do Avillez in Porto

This article has been tagged Food + Drink, Destination