Plant based pals rejoice: beautiful Porto is really excellent for delicious, creative and varied vegan food.
Saying that, I must admit that I found it marginally harder to find places to eat there than I did in Lisbon, but that was not because there was a shortage of vegan offerings; instead, every establishment owner seemed to have chosen the week of our holiday to go on their own holiday, and we turned up to several places only to find that they were in fact closed. For that reason, as well as the general loveliness of the pace, I suppose I’ll have to return – lots of research suggested that Lupin, Black Mamba, and Café do Comercio were going to be great, so if you do happen to visit Porto, perhaps give them a try. I wish I had been able to!
Still, I did manage to successfully visit some great vegan spots, or at least spots with great vegan options. Here’s where I enjoyed eating vegan in Porto.
Apuro Vegan Bar
Although we visited on our final day, Apuro Vegan Bar simply had to go at the top of the list. This was probably my favourite place we ate in Porto; I have a feeling that had we been to it on the first day, we would have returned, which is something I almost never do. Excited by the entire menu, we ordered a selection of stuff to share, including a vegan cheese and ham toastie, ‘chicken’ nuggets, fries, houmous and bread. It made for an enormous lunch, but everything was delicious and the addition of a snoozing cat was much appreciated. If you go to one place from this list, please make it this one.
DUH! Vegan Donuts
This cute, tucked away little hole in the wall has two offerings: donuts (duh) and coffee. I can’t speak for the coffee, but the donuts are great, and a very welcome sweet treat when you’re a vegan walking past Portuguese bakeries brimming teasingly with pastries every 5 minutes. There are a handful of flavours to choose from, all handmade by the owner, and all very pleasing on the eye. A real hidden gem and a lovely female owned business.
Francesinhas al Forno da Baixa
On the train from Lisbon to Porto I did all of my food-based research for our time there, and one thing that kept coming up as something we *needed* to eat in the city was Portuguese soaked sandwich, the Francesinha. Given that this is usually stuffed with meat and covered in melted cheese, I wasn’t sure that it was going to be a culinary experience I could partake in – but of course, someone had made sure that wasn’t the case.
Francesinhas al Forno da Baixa has a whole vegan section on their menu with options involving seitan, tofu and vegan cheese in various combinations. I’ll be honest, they didn’t look like the best francesinhas in the city by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s not to say that they weren’t enjoyable. Rob probably summed it up best afterwards with ‘well, I’m not sure what that was and I feel quite horrible, but it tasted good’.
I wasn’t planning on eating at daTerra after dropping into one in Lisbon and finding that the custard tarts the website promised me were a lie (perhaps an overstatement, but they didn’t have them), but after all the aforementioned closures caused our evening plans to go awry a bit, we decided to give it a go. It was actually excellent; firstly, an all you can eat buffet is always going to be right up my street, and secondly, the sheer volume and variety of delicious salads and veggies is exactly what I needed after a day dominated by beige food and sugar. Dinner is €10.90 and unlimited, so it’s a great affordable option even without dessert being included (although they did look seriously good, so perhaps you’ll want to save some space and treat yourself). The menu changes daily and the location is central, so you could easily visit more than once.
I simply cannot let a trip pass without ice cream, and this place hit the spot with its vast selection of delicious dairy free flavours. I’m sometimes a little disappointed when it’s only the fruit options that are vegan, as is the case here, but the ones I tried were beautifully creamy and thoroughly satisfying. Try the banana flavour – don’t judge me please, Rob was disgusted by my choice – it is incredible.
Vegana by Tentugal
I have three tremendously important words; PASTEIS DE NATA. Finally, the holy grail; that’s right, on the last day of the holiday I was able to track down a vegan version of Portugal’s famous custard tarts, and it fulfilled all my wildest dreams. I definitely would have eaten here, but the service looks fairly relaxed (it took maybe 20 minutes for me to buy a single tart), and we had to get going for a flight. Still, I can’t sing the praises of their pasteis de nata enough – perfect pastry and a delicious filling that’s well worth making a beeline for even if it’s out of your way.
While that concludes my top spots, I also have a couple of honourable mentions; it didn’t feel right to include them in the list since they absolutely are not brimming with options, but I have good things to say about them, so felt they were worthy of a sentence or two.
A Despensa is a lovely Italian restaurant with basically nothing vegan on the menu, but the staff are very kind and only too happy to reel off a list of substitutions and adaptations they can make to veganize their dishes. If you are travelling with omnivores or vegetarians, and you like pasta, a simple pasta arrabiata is perfectly executed and very satisfying here.
Moustache Coffee is a lovely little coffee shop over the road from Igreja do Carmo, so you’ll undoubtedly find yourself in the vicinity of it at some point during your stay. They have both oat and soya milk, something that cant be said for all of the coffee shops in the city, and they also have V60 coffee, which is one of our favourites, so it’s well worth a visit if you’re looking for a pit stop – sightseeing is thirsty work.