A Cantarinha Café is a modest café/restaurant close to the art district of the centre of town. It has been owned for the last 25 years by Sr. Manuel. The speciality here is the “Francesinha” one of the staple dishes from Porto invented by a Portuguese emigrant who lived in France. This dish is based on the French dish called “Croque Monsieur” and has been adapted to be a full meal instead of a snack.
There are many restaurants where you can eat “Francesinha” in Porto and obviously you have the most well-known places which have gotten famous over the years for making this particular dish. These places have turned into “Francesinha” factories and therefore have lost an essential part of their flavour due to the large quantities that they produce. I have stayed away from reviewing these places and have tried to discover hidden gastronomical gems that prepare the “Francesinha”, A Cantarinha Café is one of them as well as “Golfinho”.
The “Francesinha” here for me is a 7.5 out 10, the sauce is good but a bit too acidic due to the tomato, but if you break open the egg yolk at the start of eating it, it gives the sauce the necessary sweetness, and it was surprisingly good I must say. The particular aspect about this “Francesinha” that is interesting is its softness, you would think that it would fall apart but it is impressing that it is so consistent. Also the chips that are served are one of the best I have tried, they are hand cut and extra crispy, a perfect side-dish you can dip in the “Francesinha” sauce. Ask for a Beer to quench your thirst and you are all set. Prices are very accessible €7 for the simple (no egg, no chips) “Francesinha”, €7.50 for either fires or the egg and €8 for fries and the egg.
Part of eating this dish is digesting it, 30 min to eat and 3 hours to digest so don’t plan any major exercise for afterwards, but an “aguardente” (Portuguese Grappa) and a walk after your meal will do the trick, Happy Digestion.
Address: Largo da Materinidade de Julio Dinis, 75 R/C, Porto Portugal
Opening Times: Monday – Saturday: 9:00 – 23:00