Portugal has a long history with chocolate. As far back as the early 1500s, Portuguese explorers came across cocoa beans during their first ventures to the New World. First consumed as a drink rather than a food, chocolate soon became a sought-after luxury in courts across Europe, and Portugal was no exception.
Chocolate remained a treat for the elite for more than a century. In 1810, Vicente Ferreira held a very important position at court: that of chocolatier to the royal household. His role not only entailed providing confections to the king and his attendants, he was also responsible for supplying the royal military hospital with cocoa butter, which was believed to have multiple medicinal properties. Of course, chocolate in Portugal is no longer the preserve of the titled few. The country boasts some of the world’s most creative purveyors of this sweet treat, whose confections appeal to an expansive clientele. With chocolate creations ranging from indulgent cakes to bite-size candies, there’s something to satisfy every craving at these top outlets.
Sofia Landeau discovered her passion and talent for chocolate cake when she was living in London, working part time in a café while studying interior design. On returning to Lisbon she jumped at the chance to take on the running of a café, where she continued to experiment with chocolate recipes, eventually developing her signature cake. This rich chocolate creation was named the city’s best chocolate cake by Time Out, as well as being describes as ‘devilishly good’ in the New York Times.
Landeau Chocolate, Rua Rodrigues Faria 103, 1300-501 Lisbon, +351 917 278939
Leonidas, one of the largest chains of high-quality chocolate shops in Europe, has recently expanded into Portugal, with shops in both Porto and Lisbon. The brand was founded by Leonidas Kestekides, a Greek-American confectioner who fell in love with a Belgian woman and settled in Brussels in the early 1900s. The first Leonidas store was opened by his nephew in Brussels in 1935. It quickly won plaudits for the quality of its produce, made with fresh cream, nuts, butter and fruit ‒ and, of course, the highest quality cocoa. The company’s founding principles of excellence and commitment to great taste are upheld today and the chocolates are as delicious now as they were more than 80 years ago.
Leonidas, Avenida Álvares Cabral 62D, 1250-096 Lisbon, +351 21 901 3415; Praça do Bom Sucesso 132, 4200-132 Porto, +351 22 605 6610
Leitara Da Quinto Do Paço
Leitara da Quinta do Paço began in 1920 as a milk dairy. Today it is better known for its handcrafted pastries. One in particular should be on every pastry lover’s list: the chocolate éclair. The Oporto Éclair, named after the brand’s city of origin, has a milk chocolate topping and is a Leitara da Quinta do Paço bestseller. One taste is enough to appreciate why: it is one of the best pastries we’ve ever tasted. For non-traditionalists, there are dark and white chocolate and savoury varieties – all equally tempting.
Leitara da Quinta do Paço, Praça Guilherme Gomes Fernandes 47/51, 4050-293 Porto, +351 22 208 4696
The team behind the very contemporary Chocolataria Equador aims to convey stories through chocolate. The chocolatiers here regard their work as a combination of fiction, design and, naturally, high-quality cocoa. The resulting creations are always beautiful and they always capture the imagination. Look out for carvings of fairy-tale scenes as you browse the wide selection of chocolate. We challenge you not to be transported back to childhood.
Chocolataria Equador, Rua Sá da Bandeira 637, 4000-427 Porto, +351 967 296160; Rua da Misericórdia 72, 1200-284 Lisbon, +351 21 347 1229
O Melhor Bolo De Chocolate Do Mundo
A name that translates into English as the Best Chocolate Cake in the World means it doesn’t take a detective to work out the signature dish at this café. The title was given to the creation of chef Carlos Braz Lopes by legions of dedicated fans who have been enjoying the cake for more than 20 years. The recipe remains a closely guarded secret; all we know for certain is that the cake contains no flour and that its flavour is derived in part from the luxurious French chocolate Valrhona.
O Melhor Bolo de Chocolate do Mundo, Rua Tenente Ferreira Durão 62A, 1350-076 Lisbon, +351 21 396 5372