Portuguese fast food: “Francesinha”

I started learning English around the age of 10, at the peak age of fast food. The most vivid memory I still have from those early years, is the lesson about fast food, that 90’s myth. It wasn’t just getting food fast, you had to queue in line to order, take the tray of your nicely packed food, pay up and find your own table. Plus, after eating, you had the uncontrolled duty to bring your waste to a bin and park your tray nicely above the other ones.

Portugal is a land of slow meals and long talks, but fast food has always existed amongst us. I’m not referring to the food you eat before Easter (different kind of fast), nor to the ones that you can get in no time on a tray in any shopping mall, just to food that comes quickly to your plate and that you eat in voracious bites. In Porto city you can find a wealth of examples that fit perfectly into a tight schedule, many of which are a true culinary delicacy.


The first of the series has to be “francesinha”!

Meaning “little Frenchie” in Portuguese is a sandwich originally from Porto.

History says it was invented by a returned emigrant who was inspired by what he discovered during his working years in France. I’m not sure of any of that, all I can say is it’s a working man’s meal and a bomb on a plate!

Despite its recent variations, the numerous competitions to elect the best one, and the add-ons you can request or not, it’s a simple dish that can get you in and out of the restaurant in under 30 minutes.

And that’s what I usually do when I have a late lunch, followed by a morning of fasting and having little time to spare.

My places of election throughout the ages have been “Bufete Fase” and “Locanda” (since my Uni years), “Café Pereira” (every Monday on my second job) and lately in “Requinte”.

I usually eat them with the regular addons: meaning an egg on top and crips on the side. I love to dip the chips into the sauce (which usually means I need a second batch of it) and to roll them with the melting cheese. I must say it goes along well with a beer (or panache if you want to cut on the alcohol content and sweeten the whole ordeal) and needs no dessert to top it off.

I can’t say it’s a Michelin meal, but it has flavour and content. But it’s not the only one, so this article will have follow-ups soon!

One Reply to “Portuguese fast food: “Francesinha””

  1. Por incrível que pareça o restaurante “Atenas ” em Coimbra tem das melhores francesinha que conheço

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