This Iconic Portuguese Sandwich Doesn’t Show Up on New Bedford Menus
Allow me to introduce to you the most amazing sandwich you’ll find right here in New Bedford, yet you probably have never heard of it.
It’s called a Francesinha, and it originates in the Porto region in the northern part of Portugal. Some SouthCoast restaurants might make one, but you’ll likely not find it on any menu.
What’s in it, you ask? We’ll get to that.
According to FoodandRoad.com, the Francesinha was created by Portuguese chef Daniel de Silva in the 1950s while living in France. When he returned to his native Portugal, he began serving it at Regaleira restaurant in Porto, and it has evolved over the years into one of the most iconic dishes in all of Portugal.
We here at the WBSM and Fun 107 studios stumbled upon this dish by accident while researching some photos of Portuguese food, and I immediately made it my mission to find a Francesinha, and fast.
One of the places that offers truly authentic Portuguese cuisine, and specializes in dishes and ingredients you find anywhere else, is Restaurante Algarve on County Road. Chef José Artur Cabral is a true master, and I’ve loved everything I’ve ever tried there.
A call over to Restaurante Algarve revealed that they do offer a Francesinha when Chef José has the ingredients to make its trademark tomato-beer sauce – and it just so happened that he had them on hand.
I hungrily hurried over to County Street and ordered myself a Francesinha along with a Super Bock to go along with it. If you are a beer drinker, it’s the perfect compliment to this sandwich.
The sandwich arrived, and it was truly a thing of beauty. I almost felt guilty cutting into it with the provided steak knife, but I had to see what was inside it.
The Francesinha consists of (and we’ll go from the bottom up) bread, steak, another slice of bread, ham, chourico, sliced hot dogs, a layer of cheese, and an egg. It’s perched in and covered with that tomato-beer sauce that is both spicy and savory. It’s not overpowering, mind you; it’s just a little zing that is more flavor than heat.
I savored each bite of the sandwich along with some of the accompanying fries that arrived in a separate dish (pro tip: soak the fries in the sauce). All of the flavors blended so well together, but still maintained their distinct tastes, all while absorbing the incredible sauce.
I was only able to finish about half the sandwich, so I asked for a box to take the rest of the sandwich and fries back with me to the office. At $19.99, it was an affordable lunch that turned out to be two meals for the price of one.
Again, the Francesinha is available at Restaurante Algarve only when they have the sauce on hand, so call ahead to make sure they have it before you head over to try one. My wonderful server Dina said they should have it for the next few days for sure.
We called around to a few other Portuguese restaurants in the area to find out who might offer Francesinha sandwiches. Neither Captain’s Place in Acushnet nor Tia Maria’s in New Bedford offered one. Alianca in New Bedford’s South End said they do offer it occasionally as a special, but didn’t have it at the moment. BarCa in Fall River also offers it.
Have you tried a Francesinha before? Do you know of other places that offer it? Let us know in the Facebook comments under this story.