Porto is a seafood lovers dream. There’s no other way to explain it – packed full of fresh food, cooked simply and traditionally, at a great price and most of the time with a phenomenal view.
We started off our Porto culinary experience at Raiz after seeing a post by The Cutlery Chronicles and not being able to resist it’s gorgeous interior. This was an excellent decision – it’s a three story building, staff are really welcoming and the food is amazing! We started off with codfish fritters and sausage and egg tiborna (a local speciality bread topped with your choice of ingredients). The fritters were delightfully crisp and moreish and were a generous portion! The tiborna was more like a brunch, and a bit too filling for me at the start of the meal but delicious all the same. Next it was on the octopus which was absolutely stunning. Perfectly cooked; tender on the inside with a grilled outside giving a smokey taste. Genuinely up there with the best octopus I have ever eaten.
For a riverside spot for lunch we couldn’t fault Casinha Sao Joao. We ordered beef strips with peppers, pork tenderloin cooked with apples and clams (image at the top of the post). Again the portions were huge (we hadn’t learnt from previous mistakes) but we weren’t complaining. The beef was a bit too salty for me (I ate it all the same) but the pork was spot on. Really tender and complimented beautifully by the apples. The star of the show was of course the clams, cooked in white wine and garlic and swimming in butter. Dreamy.
We stumbled across Portu’s when we had assured ourselves that we were only going to have tapas for tea due to tucking into a francescinha for lunch (do if you dare). However, as with most other nights (are you seeing a theme here) we tucked into a feast. We ordered padron peppers and grilled prawns to start – so far pretty light. However we stepped away from the seafood for a dish and ordered the veal with spinach which was gorgeous. Cooked rare and seasoned perfectly it was a nice surprise after going out for only a bite or two (whoops).
We went to Mercado do Bolhao one morning but sadly were really underwhelmed. It’s a beautiful space and you can see how it used to be a thriving place, but it was a bit unloved and only a third full. The fruit and veg was great but the seafood was limited and was mostly frozen. The market is due to move elsewhere for a couple of years whilst the market is renovated so fingers crossed it returns to being the life and soul of the city!
Porto is a city that loves its fish. Everywhere you go you will see fish on everything from mugs to teatowels to jewellry. In fact they love it so much they even have shops dedicated to tinned fish where you can get a can with your birth year on! Even in some of the port houses we went to they were serving up the drinks alongside a can of fish (in beautiful tins); fish really is star of the show.
Talking of port houses I couldn’t round off this review without mentioning the city’s crowning glory. We visited Taylors and Grahams for the view over the river, but also stopped into Churchills and Ramos Pintos to try some more unfamiliar tipples. I am now a real convert to white port, my favourite being one from Churchill’s that I am trying to source, and will definitely be serving it alongside some seafood in the near future.
Overall I can’t recommend Porto highly enough. It’s a truly beautiful city with a warm welcome and a place I can’t see anyone not fall in love with.