You have to try ‘Francesinha’, a serious matter in Porto. It even has an official Brotherhood for the best recipes and places.
The free translation is ‘little French girl’, derived from the French toast ‘croque monsieur’, brought from France by a Porto emigrant when he returned home. He adapted it, making it more “Porto-guese”, with fine meats and sausages, and spicy sauce… which in fact is the secret of the best Francesinhas.
The sauce’s recipe can be complicated, but it roughly takes tomato sauce, fine herbs, liquors, beer, and chili peppers. It has to boil and be poured onto the Francesinha when served, melting the cheese with the bread. Francesinha can also have a fried egg on top, and fries alongside. This is no regular ‘sandwich’ as you can see by the photo and is as healthy as it looks.
Almost every person in Porto will say “No, I know the best place for a Francesinha!”. And it’s probably true. I don’t know if Santiago, a café/restaurant in the city centre, is the best, but it’s certainly very good. There are other very good ones, such as Bufete Fase (tiny place), Capa Negra (late hours), Cufra, or Café Aviz.
This one is a traditional house, with no “fashion” looks. The Francesinha here is not cheap (around €8.50 to €10) but is worth it. Just get suspicious when you find places that offer Francesinha for less than €5.
The “only” drink that goes along Francesinha is Super Bock. Not any other beer, only this one. Mandatory.