Francesinha, signature dish of Porto

Signature dish, something that is an absolute specialty of the chef or the locality. In the case of Porto, it is francesinha, which the locals are extremely proud of.


Francesinha is a special type of sandwich. The base consists of layered fillings, which include cheese, various types of ham and salami, pieces of fresh sausage, spicy sausage, or thin beef steak. All of this is placed between two slices of toast bread and baked again with cheese. You can also add an egg to the francesinha. The whole francesinha is then covered with a special sauce made from beer, wine, and other ingredients and sprinkled with fried fries.

Francesinha represents a truly large portion of food that will satisfy you for the whole day. In some restaurants, you can see that they will cut the francesinha in half for an extra charge. If you go to a restaurant as a couple, it is definitely worth considering. Cutting the francesinha in half is not just a typical knife cut, as one might expect. After all, the two-euro surcharge would be too expensive for that. The chef cuts the basic sandwich in half, covers each half with cheese on all sides, and bakes it again, then pours the sauce over it and sprinkles it with fries. Two half portions are surprisingly more than one whole.

Interior of Café Santiago

Francesinha has a relatively short history, allegedly originating only in 1960, as a kind of variation on the French sandwich croque-monsieur. Initially, it was not very successful, but it was rediscovered in Porto, where it gained great popularity. You will find a huge number of establishments offering francesinha in the wider center of Porto.

Queue in front of Café Santiago

I tried francesinha at Café Santiago, which was independently recommended to me by two local people, and it was also almost always among the top 10 places to enjoy this specialty in online reviews. The version with a slice of beef and an egg on top cost 14 EUR. At lunchtime, locals queue for francesinha here. I went to the restaurant without a reservation around six in the evening when it was still empty. However, it filled up completely within half an hour.

Will you give francesinha a chance and taste it?

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