Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Taste Porto Food Tours

Some people like museums, others architecture, for me it is food. And what better way to get to know a city and its people than through its food. Every time I travel internationally, I take at least one day to do a local food tour. While in Porto, Portugal this past week, that was no exception. But, I loved my tour so much I went on a second one the next day with the same company. And that is why Taste Porto is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

Located in the Northwest of Portugal, Porto is the second largest city in Portugal with a population of approximately 214,000 people. Famous for is Port wines, Porto was a forgotten second city of Europe. However, in the past few years, Porto has exploded and is a popular tourist destination.

Knowing I was going to be in Porto for a couple days, I immediately googled “food tours Porto” to see what would come up. One of the first companies to pop-up was Taste Porto, offering local walking food tours with passionate local guides. Taste Porto was started by three friends, two natives from Porto and an American, who wanted to share their love for Porto and the cuisine of Porto.

Taste Porto offers two different tours – the Vintage Food Tour and the Downtown Food Tour. I could not decide which tour to take (at first, I thought I would do just one) and filled out the contact form on the website. In less than 24 hours, Sandra, the Customer Service Chef, responded to me with a personalized and detailed email explaining both of the tours:

“Dear Allison, Thank you for reaching out to us. We are excited to hear that you will be exploring Porto and we might have the opportunity to share our love of the city with you….” She proceeded to provide more detail about each tour to help me decide. The Vintage Food Tour focuses on the revival of the city and its food culture whereas the Downtown Food Tour  is the original food tour and combines their love for what is best in the city with what is off the beaten path. Sandra ended her email letting me know that she has tried both tours herself and that I would be happy with either choice.

I was impressed with Taste Porto’s customer service, as well as their comprehensive website. The website is easy to navigate and provides more useful information. There are bios and photos of all of the guides and there is also a blog with other suggestions, such as the best ice cream in Porto, the best winery visit experiences and more.

When it was time to meet my tour, the meeting place was clearly noted in my confirmation ticket. When I arrived, my guide was waiting in a branded blue jacket so it was easy to find her. She introduced herself and then gave us an overview of the tour with a few tips. And then she handed us a small folded printed map with a list of the places we would be visiting (with descriptions) as well as other suggested places to go on our own if we want. Of all the food tours I have been on, I have never been given a map and list of the venues before, or after, the tour. Of course, I usually take notes but this is a useful tool!

My guides on both days were professional, enthusiastic and friendly. They were knowledgeable and personable. Tours will not exceed 10 people and my groups were small – one tour with 8 people and the other with just 3.

Both tours take place in the center of Porto and include walking up and down the hilly streets of Porto. In fact, on one of the tours, our guide said that we walked 10,000 steps in under 4 hours. It did not seem like we walked that much but definitely means that we worked off the food we ate (or did we?).

The day after my first tour, I received an email from Sandra with a complete review of what we had done on the tour. It listed the places we visited as well as the dishes we tried. Now that is follow-through.

I loved the Vintage Porto Tour so much the first day that I went on the Downtown Porto Tour on my second day and that is why Taste Porto is the Please The Palate pick of the week.