When I learned that Anthony Bourdain:Parts Unknown was airing a travel and food show in Porto, Portugal it brought back memories of the first time I visited Porto and came face to face with a real “Francesinha”.
Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, is located along the Douro river in Northern Portugal and is known worldwide for its Porto wine, a fortified after dinner dessert wine. It is also known for its Francesinha sandwich, a distant relative of the French croque-monsieur which was brought back to Porto when a Portuguese immigrant, who lived in Belgium, returned to Porto and adapted the sandwich to the Portuguese taste.
It was during a vacation to Portugal, in August 2013, when my wife and I visited Porto. While there I asked a local friend where I could get one of the best Francesinhas in town. He suggested a visit to Café Santiago in Rua Passos Manuel near the Coliseu do Porto.
As I walked into Café Santiago I knew that I was in for a real treat. The place was packed with people and all of the tables were full. There wasn’t a single bar stool empty and there were plenty of people standing in a corner waiting to get a seat.
One of the waiters came over to us and told me “sorry, there is a long wait”. He also assured me that my wait would be worth it. We decided to wait for a table and waited for our turn to be seated. About 30 minutes later a table became available and we were seated.
Once we got seated, I looked at an extensive menu of different francesinhas and decided to order a Francesinha à Santiago, the house specialty, along with a glass of Super Bock, a Portuguese beer on tap. When my meal arrived, it was like a magnificent work of art! It came with everything you could ever want between two slices of toasted bread. There was fresh sausage, linguiça, steak, mortadella, ham and a fried egg surrounded by melted cheese and topped with an amazingly delicious secret sauce. Oh, and and the francesinha was surrounded by fresh hand cut fries.
Can’t wait for Anthony Bourdain’s show on Sunday, July 2nd, so that I can reminisce about my August 2013 visit to Porto and my first experience eating the famous Francesinha sandwich.