Food is an important part of any culture. No matter where you are from and where you are travelling, food gives the opportunity to bond with and learn about others. It’s no different in Portugal. So it’s essential to learn the vocabulary to enjoy both the food and your trip to Portugal fully. 

What do Portuguese people eat? 

Portuguese cuisine is heavily influenced by the country’s location, history, and traditions. The country’s coastal location means that seafood plays a significant role in its cuisine, with dishes like “bacalhau” (salted codfish), “caldeirada” (fish stew), and “sardinhas” (grilled sardines) being popular choices. 

Meat dishes are also prevalent, with dishes like “cozido à portuguesa” (meat and vegetable stew), “feijoada“* (bean stew with meat), and “frango” (grilled or roasted chicken) being among the favourites.

* Portuguese feijoada is similar to Brazilian feijoada but it is traditionally cooked with different types of meats and white or red beans instead of black

Names of the dishes in the photo from left to right: 


    • Bolinhos de bacalhau

    • Bacalhau frito 

    • Bacalhau com natas

    • Salted bacalhau before being prepared

Portuguese people love their sweets as well. You will have various choices of deserts “sobremesas” and sweet treats. If you eat a lot of them, your Portuguese friends might call you “goloso/golosa” (a sweet tooth, someone who likes to eat beyond their hunger). 

Names of the dishes in the photo from left to right:


    • Natas do céu

    • Pastel de natas

    • Bolas de Berlim

    • Pão de ló

Learn how to count in Portuguese so you can ask for as many desserts as you want!

What is the national dish of Portugal? 

There are many national dishes. The most widely known national dish of Portugal is “bacalhau“, which is salted codfish (pictures just above). It’s said that there are over 365 ways to prepare this dish, one for every day of the year! Some popular variations include “bacalhau à brás” (shredded codfish with potatoes and eggs) and “bacalhau com natas” (codfish with cream). 

Teacher tip: Worry not! The “natas” in “bacalhau com natas” and in “pastel de natas” have nothing to do with each other. Natas simply means dairy cream, whether it is sweet or savoury. 

How to order food in Portuguese?

When ordering food in Portuguese, you can start with “eu gostaria” (I would like) and then add the name of the dish. For example, “Eu gostaria de um prato de bacalhau com batatas” means “I would like a plate of codfish with potatoes.” An alternative is “eu queria” (I would like) and then the name of the drink. For example, “Eu queria uma cerveja” means “I would like a beer.” If you want to ask for the bill, you can say “a conta, por favor.


At the restaurant Portuguese dialogue

Here is an example of a typical Portuguese dialogue at the restaurant: 

Empregado: Boa tarde.

You: Boa tarde, queria uma mesa para duas pessoas, por favor. 

Empregado: Com certeza. Podem ficar nesta mesa. Aqui têm a ementa. 

You: Obrigado.



Empregado: Já decidiram? 

You: Sim. Queríamos um bacalhau com natas e um arroz de polvo, por favor. 

Empregado: E para beber?

You: Um garrafa de vinho branco, por favor.

Empregado: Com certeza.  


Empregado: Estava tudo bom?

You: Estava perfeito. Podemos ter a conta? 

Empregado: Trago já. Vão desejar fatura com contribuinte? 

You: Não obrigada. 

Empregado: Aqui está a conta. 

You: Pronto. Obrigado. 

Empregado: Obrigado eu. Até à próxima. Boa tarde. 

Review the 50 most common Portuguese verbs. 

General food vocabulary:


Various vegetables: carrots, onions, lettuce, potatoes, and tomatoes


“legumes” (vegetables)

“cenoura” (carrot)

 “batata” (potato)

“cebola” (onion)

“alface” (lettuce)

“tomate” (tomato)


“carne” (meat) 

“frango” (chicken)

“carne de porco” (pork)

“bife” (steak)

“salsicha” (sausage)


“fruta” (fruit)

“maçã” (apple)

“banana” (banana)

“laranja” (orange)

“morango” (strawberry)

“uva” (grape)


“queijo” (cheese)

“leite” (milk)

“iogurte” (yogurt)

“manteiga” (butter)

“creme” (cream)

“gelado” (ice cream)

Learning food vocabulary is not only useful for ordering food but also a great way to connect with Portuguese culture. 

So go out there and try some of Portugal’s delicious dishes – “Bom apetite” (bon appétit)!

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