The Francesinha: Café Santiago in Porto, Portugal

This no frills, Portuguese version of an American diner, has three locations all within walking distance of each other in the city center, building the second and third location to keep up with demand.  Offering a beer menu longer than the platter options, one need not even ask for a menu when ordering. Simply glancing around at the packed tables of locals and lucky tourists alike will tell you what you need to know: for €10, you too will have the minimum 1300 calorie sandwich that the rest of the restaurant is indulging in.

Café Santiago’s interpretation of the Portuguese francesinha sandwich, known among tourists as the gut-buster, is contained between two thick pieces of bread covered by a mountain of melted cheese and fried egg that cover the meat-lovers paradise hiding inside. Ham, sausage, steak and roast beef all play a part in creating the sandwich soaked in beer sauce and sitting atop a throne of similarly doused French fries.

Waiting behind about twenty other hopefuls on the sidewalk outside the café for one of the servers to holler our names out the door, my friend and I, neither one of us caring to spend the rest of the day in a painfully satisfied state of food paralysis, agreed to pay the €2 fee to divide one francesinha platter between the two of us and we still couldn’t manage to finish our portions. Having experienced the sheer immensity of fat. The sheer immensity of fat and carbs combined into one flavor-laden dish was not lost on us.

Although you and your vegetarian friends may have to split up for lunch at this borderline gluttonous eatery, the francesinha at Café Santiago is a must if you’re ever in its origin town of Porto.