10 Reasons You Want to Indulge in Alentejo Food in Evora

You might have heard of Evora, one of the most beautifully preserved medieval towns in Portugal with its fascinating historical monuments.

Did you also know that Evora, capital of the Alentejo region, is a must-visit for food lovers in Portugal?

Alentejo food is one of the richest and most original in Portugal. This unique cuisine has developed from the creativity of the poor rural farmers and natural ingredients from the land.

Nothing goes to waste in Alentejo cuisine. Entire animals are cooked and used fully – from the pig’s nose to its tail. You’ll find pig ears, cheeks or chicken brains on Evora restaurant menus.

Known as the breadbasket of Portugal, you’ll find delicious wines, olive oil, cheese, Alentejo bread and the famous black Portuguese pork.

Alentejo is considered to be Portugal’s most authentic and picturesque region. Évora, the capital, is the ideal place to explore Alentejo cuisine.

Here are the top 10 reasons why Alentejo food in Evora is a must experience for travelers.

Article last updated – September 17th, 2021
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1- Things to Do, Eat & Drink In Evora – A Surprising Medieval City

A City Gem to Taste Alentejo Food

Evora is a historic city in the heart of Alentejo and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visitors are drawn to Évora for its Roman ruins, Moorish forts and cultural monuments enclosed within the 14th-century medieval walls.

With gourmet and traditional restaurants, pastry and wine shops as well as a local farmers market, you will have many options to taste Alentejo food in Evora.

Discover the medieval city as you walk off the delicious Alentejo food. Take a break at Giraldo Square where all the streets converge.

Soak in the sun and adopt the relaxed Alentejo pace.

Giraldo Square Food in Evora Authentic Food QuestSunny and central Giraldo Square

Things to Do in Evora

Across the local farmers market, don’t miss the unusual Capela dos Ossos, or Chapel of Bones, at the Church of San Francisco.

This striking chapel is made entirely of human bones and skulls. It was used by the monks as a meditative place reflecting about life.

Not far is the pleasant Jardim Publico where you can visit the Royal Palace of Évora.

Further in town and next to Enoteca Cartuxa wines, you will see the vestiges of the impressive Roman Temples also called Templo de Diana.

Continue down the street to visit Santa Maria Cathedral, the largest Cathedral in Portugal.

As you walk through downtown Evora to your next wine tasting, you will notice the reminiscence of the Moorish invasion at the Palace of the Condes de Basto.

Chapel of Bones Food in Evora Authentic Food QuestStriking Capela dos Ossos or Chapel of Bones

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: From Lisbon, you can take a day trip to Evora and explore the UNESCO Heritage City as well as Alentejo food and wines. With the local knowledge of a local guide, learn the history of this charming city and discover Alentejo wines in an Evora wine tasting. Taking a tour is one of the best things to do in Evora

2- Favorite Alentejo Food – World Famous Black Pork

The Alentejo pig breed known as porco preto or black pig is one of the most renowned ingredients in Alentejo cuisine. What makes the flavors so exceptional is that fact that the pigs are allowed to roam freely in the countryside eating acorns of the cork and holm oak trees.

These pigs are most commonly known as Iberico pigs (the Spanish name for them) and their ham, Jamon Iberico de Bellota is one of the most expensive cured ham in the world.

What most people don’t know, is that not all of this pork is from Spain. Many of the pigs are actually raised in Portugal, in the Alentejo region feeding on the same acorns from Cork and Holm Oak trees.

Black pork, also known as raca Alentejana, is a speciality found only in the Alentejo region. This ham is protected under the designation Protected Designation of Origin (DOP).

Porco preto is a favorite food and Evora restaurants have black pork on their menu. You’ll find it in dishes like plumas or secretos, which is pork shoulder. You can buy it from the butcher or enjoy it at a restaurant as slices of presunto (ham). And, you can also find it in traditional sausages like paiola.

The meat takes on flavors second to none. The texture is unbelievable the Portuguese black pork just melts in your mouth. It is truly amazing.

Related: The 5amêndoas Restaurante, an award-winning restaurant at the Vitória Stone Hotel is known for their exceptional black Portuguese pork.

Read more in our article The Best Evora Hotel to Immerse Yourself in the Alentejo Cuisine

Black Pork Food in Evora Authentic Food QuestGrilled Alentejo black pork plumas at 5 amêndoas Restaurante

3- Alentejano Bread – A Staple of Alentejo Food

Alentejano bread or Pão Alentejano is the base of Alentejo cuisine. With its distinct shape, a round base with a head, you cannot miss this rustic bread on the bakery shelves.

Made with wheat flour from Alentejo and traditional yeast, it must be cooked in a wood-burning oven to be authentic. It has a unique very slight acid flavor.

The inside is dense while the crust is thick and crispy. And, it can weigh anywhere from 2.0 to 3.5 pounds.

Traditionally, this bread was bought to last a whole week. It is eaten in the form of soups, such as açordas or migas. Used either mashed and sliced it is found in almost all the regional soups.

You can also have it served with cheese, olive oil and Portuguese ham, making for a wonderful appetizer or meal.

To buy Alentejano bread, head to the nearest market or local bakery.

Alentejo bread for Alentejo Food in Evora by Authentic Food Quest, Traditional Portuguese bread, Alentejo bread is always part of Portuguese dinner and part of a typical Portuguese mealFreshly baked Alentejo bread or Pão Alentejano (photo credit: @paodaterra.oficial)

4- Açorda and Migas – the Most Surprising Alentejo Food in Evora

One of the most recognizable Alentejo foods are the açordas or sopas de pão which translates to bread stew or bread soup.  

With an Arab heritage, açordas are usually made with coriander or pennyroyal (herb in the mint family) old bread, olive oil, garlic, salt, and water. This is the basis for all açordas. Depending on the season or wealth, different ingredients can be added to the stew.

One popular style, Açorda á Alentejana is prepared as a soup with large pieces of bread mixed with garlic, cilantro and a poached egg in broth. In the Summer, açorda goes well with grilled or fried sardines, ripe figs, white grapes or celery cut into thick sticks.

Another dish also made from bread and exclusively from Alentejo is Migas. These are breadcrumbs that are fried in butter and typically served with pork ribs, cod or choriço.

There is also a sweet version of Migas called Migas Doces, made with cinnamon, egg yolks, and sugar.

Acorda an Aletenjo food made with breadTraditional Alentejo food - Açorda topped with shrimp

5- Exceptional Dogfish Soup – A Signature Alentejo Food

Alentejo is the largest region of Portugal covering one-third of the country. It borders Spain and goes all the way to the sea, Evora in the past, had limited access to fresh fish as it took days for the fish to get to people’s homes.

With its thick skin, the cação or dogfish was the only fish that stayed fresh after a couple days of transportation.

The Sopa de cacao or dogfish soup is a very popular Alentejo food. This fish soup is made with flour, bread and “spiced” with coriander, a common herb in Portuguese cooking as well as olive oil.

The fish soup is very hearty and filling which can be eaten as a main dish by itself. You can taste an excellent Sopa de cação at Cafe Alentejo.

Fish Soup Alentejo Food at Cafe Alentejo in Evora Authentic Food QuestSignature Dogfish soup at Cafe Alentejo in Evora

6Award Winning Portuguese Olive Oils

Alentejo is the most important growing region for olive oil in Portugal. Almost two thirds of Portuguese olive oil is produced in Alentejo. The olive oil from Alentejo is protected under the designation Protected Designation of Origin (DOP).

There are several varieties of olive oil and the flavors vary from the north of Alentejo to the interior of the region. The main olive varieties are Galega, Cobrançosa, Cordovil, Verdeal, and Madural.

There is never a meal in Portugal without olive oil. It is a vital ingredient in Alentejo food and found on every dinner table. Many meals are cooked in a generous amount of olive oil.

Paired with Alentejo bread, you have the perfect start to savoring Alentejo food.

Olive Tasting for Alentejo Food in Evora by Authentic Food QuestDifferent varieties of Portuguese olive oils

7-  Taste Delicious Artisanal Evora Cheese

The Queijo de Ovelha or Sheep milk cheese is a common sight at the local farmers market in Évora. The shape is traditional, small and round with a golden crust.

Like the olive oil, the cheese is also protected under the designation Protected Designation of Origin (DOP).

The production of the cheese typically starts in November and runs until April, when the milk production is at its highest.

Unpasteurized, the cheese can be eaten fresh or aged. When eaten fresh, it has a light salty taste with a slightly crumbled texture on the inside.

Older cheese typically age for six to nine months and are dense and dry, and the taste is surprisingly softer.  

Thistle flower is used to coagulate the milk imparting a fresh herbal character to the cheese.

As the cheese ages, the flavors become more strong and more distinct.

Evora Cheese is often served before the meal with olive oil and Alentejano bread as part of. When paired with the Alentejo wines, you delight in Evora food.

Queijo de Ovelha Alentejo Food in Evora by Authentic Food QuestEvora Cheese Queijo de Ovelha (Sheep milk) at the local market

8 – Appreciate Aromatic Portuguese Herbs in Alentejo Food

The essence of Alentejo cuisine is very much in harmony with the cycles of nature. The cuisine is rural and simple and transformed with herbs like coriander, pennyroyal, mint, thyme, bay leaves, and oregano.

In the Spring, wild herbs like thistle, sorrell, and wild asparagus make for delicious seasonal dishes. The Summer brings an abundance of tomatoes, peppers, beans as well as a variety of fresh fruits.

In the Fall and Winter seasons, the food turns to meat, with hunting in the Fall and pig in the Winter months.

Herbs are used in Alentejo food and also used to infuse liquors and Evora cheese.

Visiting Alentejo is a culinary journey into the seasonal and local produce. Expect an explosion of flavors and gain an appreciation for new tastes.

And above all, delight in what’s in season.

Asparagus Alentejo Food at Cafe Alentejo in Evora Authentic Food QuestWild asparagus cooked with coriander and doused in Alentejo olive oil

9 – Sample Smooth Alentejo Wines from Indigenous Grapes

In 2014, USA Today, selected Portugal’s Alentejo region as the #1 Best Wine Region to Visit in the world. The wineries, known locally as Herdades, are part of the culture and a must visit in Alentejo.  

By following the Rota dos Vinhos do Alentejo you can visit over 60 wineries and take tours of the vineyards, wine tasting and indulge in the local cuisine.

There are numerous vineyards in Alentejo and their history goes back to the Middle Ages. The Romans are said to have influenced and developed viticulture and winemaking in the region.

Portugal has the second largest number of indigenous grape varieties not found in other parts of the world. A large number of these indigenous grape varieties are found in Alentejo and they impart a strong regional distinctive character to the wines.

In Evora, you can sample local Alentejo wines at several places. Start at the Wines of Alentejo Tasting Room where you can taste free samples of the local wines as well as pick up a map of Alentejo’s wine route.

At Adega Ervideira, an exclusive family-owned winery, you will be warmly welcomed and served generous tastings of their delicious Ervideira wines.

Cartuxa, one of the oldest wineries in Alentejo produces some of the best wines from the region. Their Cellar Shop in the city also has a restaurant section. You can either sample wines at the bar or enjoy a meal accompanied by a selection of Cartuxa Evora wines.

Rosemary and Claire wine tasting at Ervideira for Alentejo Food in Evora by Authentic Food QuestRosemary and Claire tasting Alentejo wines at Ervideira

10- Queijada de Evora and other Delightful Portuguese Desserts

The variety of sweets, desserts, and cakes in Alentejo is immense. Some of the popular regional treats not to miss are the Bolo Real or Royal Cake, Queijinho do Céu, little cakes with an almond, marzipan and egg cream filling.

And one of our favorites, Queijada de Evora, similar to the delectable cakes we discovered while eating our way through Sintra.

Find many of these local sweets at the pastry shop, Pastelaria Conventual Pão de Rala in Evora.

One of the most unusual desserts we tried is the Pastel de Toucinho, which translates into bacon pastry or pork pastry.

This Portuguese dessert comes from the use of the entire animal, a practice that defines Alentejo food. Loaded with sugar and a smooth creamy texture, the slight pork taste is felt only at the very end.

Queijadas de Evora Portuguese Cheese Tarts from Evora Alentejo Food by Authentic Food QuestSinfully delicious Queijada de Evora
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In Summary

In Portugal, Evora may not be as famous as Lisbon or Porto. However, it is a destination that should be on every food lovers list.

Alentejo food offers a truly authentic experience where the local products are enhanced by the taste and flavors of spices and herbs.

The dishes reflect the creativity of the people as well as the cultural and regional bounds. Evora food is good and can be described as honest food.

With these top 10 reasons to visit Evora, we hope we have opened your appetite to taste Alentejo and the food in Evora for yourself.

Have you been to Alentejo, Portugal? What Evora food surprised you the most? Please let us know in the comments below.

Savor the Adventure!

Our visit to Évora was supported by the Visit Alentejo Tourism Board. Opinions expressed in this article are always our own.

Where to Stay in Evora – Vitoria Stone Hotel

Born out of an immense passion for genuine Alentejo, the Vitoria Stone Hotel, where we stayed, is rooted in tradition with a sophisticated side. The bold architecture integrates the use of the local materials of granite and cork, in a very tasteful manner.

The award-winning restaurant 5amêndoas Restaurante, serves exceptional Alentejo food in Évora. The ingredients are sourced from small regional producers and they include the very best of Alentejo cheese, olive oil, meat, bread, wine and more.

Located just 200 meters from the outer walls of Évora, Vitoria Stone Hotel is the perfect location to explore the city and the region.

Lisbon to Evora – How to Get to Evora from Lisbon

There are four main ways to get from Lisbon to Evora. They are all convenient and it really depends on how much time you plan to spend in Evora. If your dates are not fixed, we recommend spending at least one or two nights as there is plenty to explore in the region.

From Lisbon to Evora by Train

From Lisbon’s Oriente station, you can take the train which also takes about 1.5 hours. This is the option we took and we enjoyed having the space and the ease of train travel.

We recommend booking your tickets in advance at Comboios de Portugal. One way ticket prices range €12.40 to €16.50 depending on whether you book 1st or 2nd class tickets. 

In Evora, the train will drop you at a station that is within walking distance to the medieval city

Evora Train Station Alentejo Food by Authentic Food QuestThe train station in Evora

From Lisbon to Evora by Bus

From Lisbon, you can take the bus from either Lisbon’s Sete Rios bus station or Lisbon Oriente bus station. The Rede Expressos buses depart frequently and they trip from Lisbon to Evora takes about 1.5 hours.

The cost one-way is  €11.90 per person. The drop off in Evora is also walking distance to the city.

From Lisbon to Evora on a Tour

One of the best things to do in Evora is taking a guided tour. On a day trip from Lisbon to Evora, you can join a small group tour that starts with a pick up from your hotel.

With a local guide, you will visit the most important sites in Evora. After a Portuguese lunch, you will stop for an Alentejo wine tasting and visit a nearby village.

From Lisbon to Evora by Car

Driving time from Lisbon to Evora will take about one hour 15 minutes. The distance is about 135 km or 85 miles. When you rent a car in Portugal, be aware that the majority of rental cars are manual transmissions. If you want a car with automatic transmission, reserve one in advance.

Bridges and highways charge tolls. At the car rental station, get a transponder and pre-pay €10 euros for toll charges. When you get to Evora, park your car outside the city walls (or at the hotel parking) and explore Evora on foot. And don’t forget about travel insurance.

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41 thoughts on “10 Reasons You Want to Indulge in Alentejo Food in Evora”

  1. Wow, Alentejo food looks really yummy! And the Chapel of Bones in Evora reminds me of the Fontanelle Cemetery in Naples, what a place!

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  2. When I first started traveling, I wouldn’t budget much towards food. I didn’t really see it as a cultural experience until a few years later. Now, I love learning about a destination and culture through their cuisine. As you mention in your post, a lot of food shines a light on how the locals live and what’s accustom for them. For instance, learning about pork and how they raise black pigs is fascinating. I would be really excited to try all the goat cheese and bread (admittedly, two of my favorite food groups) as well as the aromatic herbs. I’d even love to get cooking classes from a local while I was there!

    Reply
    • Traveling through food is indeed a different way of experiencing the local destination. So glad you enjoyed reading about the black pigs. Eating the porco preto was incredible and experience not to be missed. In Evora, you will not go wrong with the cheese and bread. The only question that remains is “when will you get there?”.
      Thanks for your feedback, Martha.

      Reply
  3. Oh, you had me at Alentejano bread, but then you started talking about the olive oil and the cheese and the herbs…yummm…great descriptions of everything. I think I would absolutely love to visit this place.

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  4. Wow! Evora is certainly a heaven for foodies. I love the desserts part the most, too bad my keto diet doesn’t allow me to have those now…

    Also, the Chapel of Bones looks so interesting! How was your experience going in there?

    Reply
    • Not to worry Sarah, there are many other local flavors you can savor without going against your keto diet 🙂 It felt sort of creepy going into the Chapel of Bones, knowing one day, we will be reduced to just bones. However, it was also uplifting at the same time, with the simple message of enjoying each day because you never know how many you have left.

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  5. You’re speaking to my glutinous foodie heart right now! I actually hadn’t heard of Evora nor Alentejo food before, so thanks for enlightening me. Plus, this list has some of the best combinations–wine, cheese, and desert! I really have my heart set on that Queijada de Evora. It looks heavenly!

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    • Wonderful to hear Natasha and thrilled to have introduced you to the delightful flavors of Evora. On your next trip to Portugal, be sure to spend several days in Evora and enjoy all the local delicacies. Thanks for your feedback.

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  6. I love traveling to a beautiful cities when I can combine it with amazing food. Evore looks exactly like a destination I must to put on my bucket list, thank you for bringing up to me!

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  7. OK so now I need to try that black pork! It’s always interesting to learn about the way different countries utelise different parts of animals in their cooking as well. And I’m totally on board try some Evora wine!

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  8. Wow what an interesting foodie destination! Can’t believe they use just about every part of the animal – that put me off a bit haha. But it sounds like there some other great choices here

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  9. Oh my! This is making me want to visit Evora so bad. I love pork and especially like black pork from Japan, so I’d love to try the black port in Evora. And the wine tasting is something I would love to do. One of my favorite wines is from Portugal!

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    • It sounds like Candy that Evora is the place for you. I’m curious about black pork from Japan. I’d love to try it too. Do you know if the pigs in Japan are fed acorns like they are in Portugal? Appreciate you stopping by.

      Reply
  10. I didn’t know Evora is such a great destination for food lovers. However, I’m not sure how I feel about pigs’ ears, cheeks or chicken brains on my plate. It reminded me of South African “walkie talkies”, which are chicken heads and feet. The raca Alentejana sounds more palatable, especially when washed down with an Ervideira wine.

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    • Oh don’t worry about the pig ears, cheeks, etc. There is so much other goodness. If you stay with the black pork, you will be delighted. Definitively worth visiting for the food and the amazing wines. Cheers!

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  11. We will be in Portugal in November this year. I love these foods you describe, especially the black pork and Jamon Iberico. The Pork toucinho may be the forerunner of pork tocino we have in the Philippines!

    Reply
    • You must add Evora to your travel plans, Carol. Your stomach will thank you 🙂 For the black pork, there is no better place to go than the Alentejo region. How fascinating that there is pork tocino in the Philippines as well. Is it also a dessert? By the way, November is a great time to be in Portugal. We’ll be a lot more content about Portugal, so keep coming back 🙂 Cheers.

      Reply
  12. Thanks for this guide to Alentejo cuisine in Évora – I would personally probably travel for the UNESCO sites and medieval architecture, and food would be a bonus. Capela dos Ossos looks interesting!!! Reminds me of Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic which is exactly the same concept. Chilling, but fascinating at the same time! I’ve never tried dogfish soup, so that will definitely be a first!

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    • I would definitively recommend visiting Evora for the sites. It does contain the country’s richest medieval architecture still standing. It would be a truly fascinating experience. You can’t miss the food and wines though. The dogfish soup is a great place to start 🙂 Cheers.

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  13. We do love Portugal but have never visited Évora. We have found the food in Portugal to be generally very good but some of these dishes sound exceptional and of course, we are always partial to a glass or two of some good wine.

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  14. I think food from Portugal is highly underrated! I’ve never eaten anything that I didn’t love. Alentejo cuisine looks awesome, though the migas aren’t what they are in Mexico and Texas. I’m glad I read this before trying the Portuguese version. I’d be in for a surprise!

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    • Oh, that’s interesting. Had no idea that Migas were popular in Mexico as well. They indeed must be different. Totally agree, Portuguese food is underrated and it’s too bad because the food and wines are delicious!!

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  15. I been to Portugal a few times, love the food there but never heard of Evora before but I sure want to visit the place now for food. You sold me!

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  16. Oh how lovely! That Giraldo Square immediately reminded me of Lisbon. Don’t you just love the Portuguese architecture!
    And how about the food! I mean, just by looking at that bread photo, it’s like I can smell the fresh baked pastry. Would also love to have few of those Queijada de Évora, if possible. Now, please! 😀 😛

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    • You are right, the Portuguese architecture is so distinctive and beautiful. The tiles are magnificent indeed. Sounds like you already know how good the food in Portugal is. Next time, don’t miss checking out Evora. Cheers!

      Reply
  17. I’ll be honest, I haven’t actually heard of Evora, however now I’m really intrigued! The Queijada de Evora looks scrumpious, the whole area looks like a foodie heaven!

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  18. While I’m quite familiar with the foods mentioned above, I’m most surprised by the black pork. As I can see in the picture, they just look like normal pork meat but I bet yes the taste is extra special and delicious that indeed melts in the mouth! Love wineries, too! I’d love to visit here and take one home. When you’re being welcome to taste their wines, you couldn’t ask for more! I prefer red wine tho over white! How about you? And yes save the best for last! I shouldn’t miss the sweets, Queijada de Évora!

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    • Love it that you are familiar with Evora and all the delightful treats. We both prefer red wines as well and the ones from the Alentejo region are quite smooth and inexpensive. Great food all around and yes, the Queijada de Évora is quite a treat!! Cheers.

      Reply
  19. Uh wow, this is the perfect post for me to find today since I am travelling to Lissabon in two weeks time and was planning to go to Évora as well. I knew about the pork and the wine, since I tried them at my last visit to this region, but I am amazed by the grad variety of things I yet have to experience. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

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