Test your palate and guess the origins of these sweet and savoury snacks from Little Portugal bakeries and coffee shops.

Dundas West grafitti
Explore Little Portugal along Dundas Street West

Little Portugal is a grande snacking district, with bakeries, cafés and take-outs with options for every appetite. Whether you want to grab a meal to eat in the park or nosh while you sightsee, you’ve got plenty of choices in this west-end enclave, which runs along Dundas Street West and College Streets, bounded by the GO railway tracks and Lansdowne Avenue on the west and Dovercourt Road on the east. 

If you’re eager to eat, head straight to Rua Açores, the strip of Dundas Street West between Dufferin and Ossington. The Rua Açores street designation tips its hat to the waves of Portuguese immigrants who arrived in Canada during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, most of whom were from the Azores islands, rather than mainland Portugal.

Over the decades, newcomers from other Portuguese-speaking nations settled in the area, most notably newcomers from Brazil, but also smaller numbers from former colonies including Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde.

In recent years, the neighbourhood has gentrified as young professionals from various backgrounds have bought up the homes of first-generation Portuguese Canadians who decamped to suburban Mississauga and Brampton. However, a generous number of shops and services remain, maintaining the character of the community. 

Rua Açores food ID quiz

If your stomach is rumbling and you’re in no mood for a quiz, start at Churrasqueira Do Sardinha (1213 Dundas St. W.) for a plate of rotisserie chicken with a side of Parisienne potatoes and rice. Or tuck into a bifana (pork) sandwich on crusty papo seco bun. Tiny Lakeview Avenue Parkette is a short walk away if you want a shady spot to sit.

Next, stroll the strip and sample these snacks. Challenge yourself to guess where they’re from: Portugal or Brazil? 

Rissóis de camarão 

Shrimp turnovers are traditional appetizers but great for snacking on right out of the paper bag. The ravioli-shaped, deep-fried pockets are filled with diced shrimp in a savoury white sauce. Rissóis are a typical type of petiscos—the PORTUGUESE version of tapas.

Find it at: Caldense Bakery, 1209 Dundas St. W. or Nova Era Bakery & Pastry, 1172 Dundas St. W.

Coxinha

These deep-fried croquettes feature shredded chicken and cheese enrobed in deep-fried dough. Usually made from thigh meat, their shape roughly approximates that of a chicken drumstick. Lore has it they were invented by a creative cook catering to the appetites of a young BRAZILIAN prince who would only eat drumsticks.

Find it at: Brazil Bakery, 1566 Dundas St. W.

Pastéis de nata

These luscious custard tarts sit in puff pastry shells that are at once crisp and chewy. While old-school natas feature custard flavoured with cinnamon and lemon, you can also find newer versions with chocolate-hazelnut Nutella. #DYK: the singular form for this iconic treat from PORTUGAL is “pastel de nata”… but no one purchases just one.

Find it at: Caldense Bakery, 1209 Dundas St. W. or Nova Era Bakery & Pastry, 1172 Dundas St. W.

Pão de queijo 

These starchy buns get their base from cassava flour. Over the centuries, more ingredients were added, including the milk and cheese that characterize the soft cheese rolls today. Pão de queijo are a typical breakfast or snack food in northern Argentina, as well as their country of origin, BRAZIL

Find it at: Brazil Bakery, 1566 Dundas St. W.

Bolinhos de bacalhau 

These fried croquettes get their name from dried salt cod (bacalhau) which is reconstituted, cooked and shredded, before being combined with other ingredients like mashed potatoes and eggs. They’re called bolinhos de bacalhau in northern PORTUGAL and BRAZIL but go by pasteis de bacalhau in central and southern Portugal.

Find it at: Caldense Bakery, 1209 Dundas St. W.

Suspiros

These gorgeous and infinitely ’grammable dessert confections are supersize meringues. “Suspiros” means “sigh” in Portuguese, an evocative term for these crunchy but light-as-air treats from PORTUGAL.

Find it at: Brazil Bakery, 1566 Dundas St. W.

Getting to Rua Açores, Little Portugal

  • Take the 505 Dundas streetcar to Ossington Avenue
  • Or take the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth subway to Ossington station and 63 bus southbound to Dundas Street West

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