Our first full day in the city of Porto was a Sunday, so we followed the lead of the locals and went looking for a place to have brunch. One of the regional dishes is the Francesinha, and after scouting out a few possibilities we landed at a place with an inviting patio that offered some good-looking food. The funny thing about restaurants in Portugal and other parts of Europe is that they have pictures of all the food outside instead of a simple menu, like we do here in the States. It strikes one as fast food like, because that is where we see it here, but all the restaurants do it over there. Makes sense really, especially in towns where there are people visiting for all over the world. So, don’t let that throw you, even the nicer places have pics of their dishes posted outside.
Wikipedia lists the Francine, (as I like to call it for short) as a “sandwich” originally from Porto but it is really a unique dish all its own. It translates to little Frenchie, and if you are vegetarian or vegan you might want to stop reading now! Here’s what it is: a large slab of bread topped with wet cured ham, Portuguese linguica sausage, steak or roast meat and a copious amount of melted cheese. But wait, there’s more! The bread, meat and cheese are served swimming in a tomato beer sauce and served with French fries to dip in said sauce. The Francesinha is a gut bomb extraordinaire. Perfect hangover food.
Now, I should mention that normally, I would not touch food like this with a ten-foot cattle prod, being something of a health freak, but of course, we had to try it, being the signature dish of Porto. Yeah, it was awesomely delicious. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing, that’s how good it was. We tried the Francine another time during our time in Porto and they do vary from restaurant to restaurant. For me, the secret is having really fresh, crisp fries for the sauce. As crazy as it sounds, it was magically delicious and didn’t weigh me down as much as I expected. Could have something to do with all the walking we did. In any case, when in Porto: try the Francesinha or little Frenchie, Francine!
After such an excellent brunch walking is certainly in order. One of the most beautiful visuals in Porto is the tile work on some of the buildings. There are entire scenes depicted in blue and white tile all over town. One of the best examples of this tile can be seen in the Sao Bento train station in downtown Porto. The lobby of this station is a masterpiece of tile art.
Between the historic buildings and the tile work just walking around the city is like a trip to a museum!