Porto, perched on the Douro River in Portugal, is a city filled with crumbling buildings, idyllic cobblestone streets, typically Portuguese tiled façades, outdoor cafes and a myriad of sleepy cats. While Porto is a tremendously scenic city with a rich history and culture, it’s not an especially vegetarian or vegan-friendly destination. A new generation is helping to change that though with the emergence of a few recently opened vegetarian and vegan restaurants. We stayed in Porto for one month and had a chance to try some of the vegetarian restaurants the city has to offer as well as visit a number of local grocery stores in search of vegan options.
100% vegan burger joint and record store (opened in 2014) with English speaking staff and a laid-back atmosphere. Burger patties are made in house with fresh, unique flavors. Some burgers can be a bit loose and fall apart but the addition of a local Portuguese bread bun helps hold everything together. Along with burgers they have a small selection of tapas and desserts.
Rotating desserts are displayed in the cold case and often include something local. We were excited to try the iconic Portuguese Bolo de Bolacha here. We never expected to find a vegan version of this creamy biscuit cake and enjoyed it so much that it inspired us to make a quick Bolo de Bolacha birthday cake when we returned to Oregon. Vegan cheese from Wilmersburger is included on the Burger Punk and Burger 666 and is also available as an add-on to any other burger.
Black Mamba – Burgers & Records
address: Rua dos Mártires da Liberdade 130, 4000 Porto, Portugal
contact: +351 22 326 6620; email@example.com
Casa da Horta
Easygoing and earthy vegetarian restaurant with a near-constant schedule of cultural events. Located right in the tourist center of Porto, it may be difficult to find at first since it’s just below the street level and has a narrow entrance. In addition to the rotating daily lunch menu featuring a broad range of cuisines, Casa da Horta also has seitan and tofu sandwiches and hosts Vegetarian Francesinha Night every Friday. Their vegetarian Francesinha can be made vegan without the cheese. Most of the food is vegan, the staff speak English and the daily menu is a good value. This is good, hearty home-style cooking.
Casa da Horta – Associação Cultural
Lupin Restaurante Vegetariano
This charming and newly opened (2015) vegetarian restaurant is owned and run by a young local couple who have previously lived and worked in London. As Chef and Front of House Manager, they are always at the restaurant and always happy to speak English with their diners. The food combines local flavors with international influences and a touch of modern technique. We enjoyed the changing daily lunch menu consisting of healthy, hearty and creative options using market fresh ingredients at a very good value. The dinner menu offers more advanced cuisine than the traditional lunch set, but both are satisfying options for a short or long stay in Porto.
The atmosphere is comfortable with a clean and refined aesthetic. Their vegan wine menu was expanding at the time of our visit and they are well aware of what goes into all of their products. The menu is entirely vegetarian with a selection of vegan options, including dessert. In the evening they offer a vegan Francesinha – the local dish of Porto. They also have vegan gluten-free options on the menu.
Lupin Restaurante Vegetariano
address: R. Arquitecto Marques da Silva 74, 4150-484 Porto, Portugal
PAN DAY Vegan Event
We had the pleasure of attending a small vegan event in the community hosted by PAN, Pessoas Animais Natureza, an organization and political party promoting animal rights, inclusivity, respect and equality. A number of local vegan artisans, activists and organizations were in attendance. Along with trying a selection of delicious local baked goods from Capuchinho Verde, we also got to sample local vegan cheese from Comedores de Paisagem.
Vegan Options at Supermarkets
If you’re planning an extended stay in Porto, we highly recommend visiting the Spanish department and grocery store El Corte Ingles. The only location in the Porto area is across the Douro in Vila Nova de Gaia. They have the best selection of basics and specialty items, including unique vegan products from Portugal, Spain and beyond. For everyday shopping, Pingo Doce has more locations in Porto and a decent selection of vegan items along with all the basics for stocking a kitchen. Pingo Doce has a limited line of store-brand vegan products including soya cooking creams and vegan pâté. Minipreço, with more locations in and around the center, will suffice for well-priced everyday basics and occasionally a few soya products like yogurts and cooking creams.
Celeiro at Shopping Cidade do Porto
This natural food store is part of a national chain. The branch at Shopping Cidade do Porto (R. de Gonçalo Sampaio 350, 4150-365 Porto, Portugal) is conveniently located just one block from Lupin Restaurante Vegetariano. The shop is small but has a reasonable selection of vegan basics and recognizable vegan dairy & meat alternatives. Some of the prepared foods in the deli case were vegan and we even managed to find vegan empadas here. Ingredients and suppliers names were usually on the display tags for the prepared foods, but only in Portuguese. The staff did not speak English so you may want to brush up on a few basic Portuguese terms if you intend to order from the deli case. The vegan empadas we tried were produced by Provida.
Empada de Algas e Lombardo Bio (100g) €1.25: Triangular shape topped with sesame seeds – cabbage with carrots, spinach and hijiki seaweed. Very moist filling.
Empada de Lentilhas Bio (100g) €1.25: Round shape topped with sesame seeds – a lentil mixture consisting of tomato, carrot and onion. Drier and more savory.
Empada Bio Tofu e Alga Kombu (100g) €1.25: Round shape with sunflower seeds – tofu with miso flavor, very savory and tasty.
Empada Bio Seitan e Alga Kombu (100g) €1.25: Topped with poppy seeds – finely minced seitan with alga kombu. Moist, but not as moist as Algas e Lombardo.
And Some Others We Didn’t Get To Try
Vegetarian and vegan tapas bar opened in 2014. They use vegan cheese from local Porto producer Comedores de Paisagem. Inquired about their wine selection and received confirmation that they had at least one vegan wine at that time – Graham’s organic port wine. They were working to receive more information from suppliers and producers and hoped to have a larger vegan wine list soon.
Rua de Trás 101
Opened after our visit in May of 2015, this centrally located vegetarian buffet appears to have a steady selection of vegan options with the weekly menus updated online including labeled vegan dishes.
Rua Mouzinho da Silveira 249; daterra.pt
Have you been to Porto and tried any of the restaurants we’ve mentioned?