How To Host The Perfect Portuguese Dinner Party

Save the airfare and bring Portugal to you! Try using these recipes and phrases for a deliciously authentic Portuguese dinner party.
Portuguese dinner party

If you consult any popular travel publication or list of top destinations, chances are high that Portugal will come highly recommended. It’s a gorgeous country featuring the perfect combination of city life and natural beauty, but it’s also known for its delicious food. That being said, not everyone can afford to spend the time or money to get there, so we’re bringing Portugal into your home. This is your guide to hosting an authentic Portuguese dinner party, so invite your friends and family and get cooking!

A note: this is intended to be a European Portuguese meal. If you want to host a Brazilian Portuguese dinner party, it will look quite a bit different.

Drink: Vinho Verde

vinho verde
A vineyard in the vinho verde region of Portugal. Photo: Sergio Ferreira

Although vinho verde translates to green wine, the wine itself is not actually green. Sorry to disappoint. Instead, the “green” refers to the lush Portuguese countryside where these grapes grow, known as the vinho verde region. The name may also refer to the relatively short time after bottling before you’re supposed to drink it — you drink the wine when it’s young, or “green.”

You can find vinho verde at many U.S. wine stores, so pick up a bottle and make sure to chill it before serving.

Appetizer: Queijo Fresco

quiejo fresco
Photo: Elingunnur/Wikimedia Commons

This classic Portuguese starter is common in both restaurants and homes. Meaning “fresh cheese,” queijo fresco is a soft, creamy, white cheese that’s somewhat salty. Other than milk and salt, the other main ingredient is rennet, a set of enzymes used to make curds out of milk. Queijo fresco is generally served with toasted bread or cornbread. Here’s a simple recipe for you to follow.

Main Course: Bacalhau à Brás

bacalhau à bras
Photo: Avicentegil/Wikimedia Commons

For the main dish, we’ve chosen one of the most common, traditional Portuguese meals: bacalhau à Brás (“Cod à la Brás”). As the story goes, the dish was invented in an old neighborhood in Lisbon by a tavern owner whose last name was Brás. While served year-round, bacalhau à Brás is the traditional Christmas Eve meal in Portugal.

The ingredients are shredded cod, onions, fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, garlic, black olives and parsley. Try this authentic bacalhau à Brás recipe!

Dessert: Bolo de Bolacha

bolo de bolacha

Hope you saved room for dessert because this is a treat you won’t want to miss! Bolo de bolacha translates as “biscuit cake” and is a classic Portuguese dessert, beloved by children and adults alike. Follow this recipe, which calls for Maria cookies (rich tea biscuits you can find at most stores where Goya products are sold), butter, sugar, eggs and a cup of coffee. It’s a super easy process — there’s no baking involved; just make sure to allow four hours for the cake to chill in the fridge. Enjoy!

Key Portuguese Phrases

I’m hungry — Estou com fome

I’m full — Estou cheio/a

Please — Por favor

Thank you — Obrigado/a

You’re welcome — De nada

Enjoy your meal — Bom apetite

It’s delicious! — Está delicioso!

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