Breakfast, snacks and sandwiches

For breakfast it’s best to head to a café, a pastelaria (pastry shop) or a confeitaria (confectioners), where you’ll be able to order a croissant, some toast (uma torrada; a doorstep with butter), a simple ham or cheese sandwich (sandes) or some sort of cake or pastry

A padaria is a bakery, and any place advertising pão quente (hot bread) will usually have a café attached. For sandwiches (sandes or sanduíches), common fillings include cheese, ham, presunto (smoked ham) and chouriço (smoked sausage). Sandes mistas are a combination of ham and cheese; grilled, they’re called tostas. Better places offer the same on wholewheat or rye – ask for a tosta mista com pão caseiro or com pão integral.

Classic Portuguese snacks, available throughout the day, include croquetes (deep-fried meat patties), pastéis or bolinhos de bacalhau (cod fishcakes), iscas de bacalhau (battered cod fishcakes with egg), chamuças (samosas), bifanas (a thin slice of grilled or fried pork on bread), and prego no pão (steak sandwich), which when served on a plate with a fried egg on top is a prego no prato. In the north you’ll also find lanches (pieces of sweetish bread stuffed with ham) and pastéis de carne or pastéis de Chaves (puff pastries stuffed with sausage meat).

You may also see blackboard lists of dishes, or a sign reading petiscos or comidas, which are Portugal’s answer to Spain’s tapas. Usually served cold, these are little dishes that range from the simple and sublime to the truly unspeakable: not only prawns, sardines, snails, grilled octopus, marinaded chicken livers, tremoços (pickled lupin seeds) and pimentos (marinaded fried sweet peppers), but also orelhas de porco (crunchy pig’s ears – nice if you like cartilage), and túberos (marinated boiled pig’s testicles).