Porto, where we were high off at least one of the following substances at all times: Duoro River air droplets, second hand cigarette smoke, port cocktails, sugar (natas!), and/or vinho verde.
I absolutely loved Lisbon the two times I visited in 2017 and after seeing my high school rowing coach's IG stories of Porto, I knew I wanted to go. Porto is known for giving Portugal its name and for being the birthplace of Port wine.
Port Wine was originated by the need to preserve the wine from the long journey from Douro Valley to Porto and then to England. It started to be fortified with the addition of brandy. The process of fortifying Port today is totally different as the wine is fortified during fermentation and not after aging.
Although I'm not the biggest fan of port wine (it's more tolerable in cocktails or as a sangria with some tonic water, lemon, and citrus), I'm a huge fan of Portugal's vinho verde, which was recommended to me by my lovable Spanish host mom, Ana.
Portugal's food scene is also dominated by pastéis de nata (only called pastéis de Belem if it's from the original factory in Lisbon) which are the most delectable egg tarts I've eaten in my life. I craved them regularly in America and can thankfully they're easily accessible in Berlin. Two sides of Portugal are coastline so it's only natural that seafood be popular as well. Octopus and codfish are found on many menus, but beware of codfish (called bacalhau in Portuguese) dishes since they're heavily salted. The history of bacalhau can be traced back to the 14th century when Portuguese explorers dried and salted cod could be kept in the ships holds for years and fresh supplies could be caught from the oceans during a voyage. Many dishes come with sides of potatoes (usually baby potatoes smashed and dressed in local olive oil) or grilled onions + peppers.
There's so many good things to eat in Porto. Here's a list of places I was able to visit:
- Adega Mercearia Bebe Se Mal (R. de Belomonte 96, 4050-452 Porto, Portugal) Nothing special - I got the house steak and Audrey got the bacalhau.
- Venham mais 5 - O original (R. de Santo Ildefonso nº219, 4000-507 Porto, Portugal) The "chocolate cake" that is so highly recommended from this restaurant is actually a chocolate pudding layered with crushed chocolate merengue in the shape of a cake. Unless you have a serious chocolate sweet tooth, I doubt you'll be able to take more than a few bites of this cake before putting your fork down.
- Conga (R. do Bonjardim 318, 4000-115 Porto, Portugal) get the caldo verde - this is one of my favorite Portuguese dishes. It's a soup with a potato base and finely shredded kale - delicious simplicity.
- Casa Guedes (Praça dos Poveiros 130, 4000-393 Porto, Portugal) Audrey got the sande de pernil com queijo de ovelha and I got the caldo verde (again).
- El Argento (Rua das Taipas 4, 4050-452 Porto, Portugal) Try any assortment of empanadas here for a late afternoon snack and you won't be dissapointed
And a list of places that were recommended, but I wasn't able to get to this time:
- Taberna Santo António (R. das Virtudes 32, 4050-630 Porto, Portugal)
- Taxca (Rua da Picaria 26, 4050-477 Porto, Portugal) $
- Antunes (R. do Bonjardim 525, 4000-124 Porto, Portugal) $$
- Casa Nanda (Rua da Alegria 394, 4000-035 Porto, Portugal) $$
- Apetites Take Away (R. João de Barros 409 loja 19, 4150-416 Porto, Portugal) get the chocolate cake
- Taberna Folias de Baco (Rua dos Caldeireiros 136, Porto, Portugal) Torricados, grilled sausages, wine
- Lareira - Baixa (R. Das Oliveiras 8, 4050-159 Porto, Portugal) Get the prego no pao (garlic beef sandwich)
- Gazela Cachorrinhos da Batalha (Rua de Entreparedes N 8 10, 4000-434 Porto, Portugal) Visited by Anthony Bourdain (Get the cachorrinhos (hot dog sandwich))
- Galeria de Paris (R. da Galeria de Paris 56, 4050-284 Porto, Portugal) live music outside
- Yuko Tavern (Rua de Costa Cabral 2331, 4200-232 Porto, Portugal)
- Apego Restaurante (Rua de Santa Catarina 1198, 4000-457 Porto, Portugal)
- Cervejaria Brasão Aliados (R. de Ramalho Ortigão 28, 4000-407 Porto, Portugal)
- Café Santiago (R. de Passos Manuel 226, 4000-382 Porto, Portugal) for francesinha
- Cervejaria Brasão Coliseu (R. de Passos Manuel 205, 4000-385 Porto, Portugal)
- Antiqvvm (R. de Entre-Quintas 220, 4050-240 Porto, Portugal)
- Cantina 32 (R. das Flores 32, 4050-262 Porto, Portugal)
- Manteigaria - Fábrica de Pasteis de Nata (R. de Alexandre Braga 24, 4000-049 Porto, Portugal) The natas here are more "structured", look a little more like a machine made them, the pastry shell was too "packed" and crunchy but the filling of these natas had more depth than ones we tried before. It tasted like the cinnamon was fully incorporated into the gooey filling despite not being served warm.
- ** OUR PICK** Fábrica da Nata (Praça de Almeida Garrett 7, 4000-069 Porto, Portugal) You can watch the natas here being made inside. The shells are more flakey like a croissant, but the filling could have been more flavorful. These natas are served warm (fresh?).
Portuguese croissants are in a league of their own. Unlike French croissants, they're fluffy layers of yellow brioche-like dough sometimes topped with a clear, sweet glaze after being baked. Audrey and I had 4 different croissants to solidify our new obsession, each one better than the next.
- Padaria Ribeiro - Baixa (Praça Guilherme Gomes Fernandes 21, 4050-526 Porto, Portugal) - I'm glad I had eaten a Portuguese croissant before trying one at this cafe because the amount of sugary glaze that they soak their croissants in completely overpowers the brioche. Don't come here unless you want to be buzzing with the worst kind of sugar high.
- Cafe around the corner from Livraria Lello, eaten while standing in line (unlisted on Google Maps) better than first croissant
- Random dark cafe in Gaia on the walk down to Sandeman (unlisted on Google Maps) - second best croissant we had
- Random cafe in the Porto Airport - eating while boarding our flight to Alicante, best one we had all trip!
You can see people enjoying a quick drink at any time of day in Portugal: beer, wine, coffee, etc. Just remember that port wine is a dessert wine and is supposed to be drunk alone as a snack or as a dessert after your meal. Please don't order it with your meal or risk your waiter trying his best to sway you towards a house red. If you're in the mood for a quick drink, take a seat at any bar with outdoor seating along the Duoro River (on R. de Cima do Muro). Our favorite spot was O Buraquinho da Ribeira (R. de Cima do Muro 59, Porto, Portugal), which is right on the water. Our waiter told me I looked like Pocahontas and the jury is still out on if that was a compliment or not. We came here two nights in a row to sit front row while @heyitsbruu& @FabricioStJames1 sang all of our favorite songs. It also didn't hurt when we had multiple drinks and they only charged for a fraction of what we had.
If your palate is more refined, or your looking for a night out, try one of these spots:
- Pub Bonaparte Foz (Av. do Brasil 130, 4150-151 Porto, Portugal) far from city centre
- Taylor's Port Wine Cellar (Rua do Choupelo 250, 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal)
- The Yeatman Hotel Rooftop (Rua do Choupelo, 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal)
- Plan B Club - Port (R. de Cândido dos Reis 30, 4050-152 Porto, Portugal)
- The Gin Club (R. de Cândido dos Reis 70, 4050-151 Porto, Portugal)
- Tendinha Dos Clérigos (R. Conde de Vizela 80, 4050-639 Porto, Portugal)
- Bonaparte Downtown (Praça Guilherme Gomes Fernandes 40, 4050-150 Porto, Portugal)
- Hotel Dom Henrique Downtown Rooftop (R. do Bolhão 223, 4000-112 Porto, Portugal)
- A Capoeira (Esplanada do Castelo 63, 4150-196 Porto, Portugal)
Intense nightlife in Porto is concentrated to one neighborhood (around R. de Cândido dos Reis) so you should be to try out a few clubs before settling in at one place until the wee morning hours.
- Livraria Lello (R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal)- J.K. Rowling frequented this book shop reguarly when she was teaching English in Porto. It inspired scenes that made their way into the first Harry Potter book. It's considered to be “one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world."
- Luis I Bridge - I loved crossing this bridge multiple times during my stay in Porto. You can walk across on the lower level with cars or cross overhead with the train. Both walks provide stunning views of the Cais de Ribeira.
- Porto City Park (Estrada Interior da Circunvalação, 4100-083 Porto, Portugal)
- Casa da Musica (Av. da Boavista 604-610, 4149-071 Porto, Portugal)
- Jardins do Palacio de Cristal (R. de Dom Manuel II, 4050-346 Porto, Portugal)
- Porto Cathedral (Terreiro da Sé, 4050-573 Porto, Portugal)
- Igreja de Santa Clara (Largo Primeiro de Dezembro, 4000-404 Porto, Portugal)
- Praca da Liberdade (Praça da Liberdade, 4000-069 Porto, Portugal)
Although it rained on and off the whole time we were in Porto, the beauty of the city was apparent on every city corner and little alley we explored.
This trip taught me that hair texture is extremely important to me. I have the uncanny ability to identify the Portuguese solely based on pictures of their heads.
No trip is complete without someone asking me or Audrey how the heck we are in Europe as Americans during a pandemic. It happened this trip at least 3x. People are also curious as heck about where I'm from. Most memorable comment this trip came from a Brazilian waiter who told me I look like Pocahontas...thanks?