Travel

Like a local: Porto

Portugal’s second city is creating quite a stir on the gastronomy front, with chefs putting bold new riffs on local flavours.Friday, August 16, 2019

By Kerry Walker
Nightlife in Porto.

Gourmet heights

Headed up by chef Vasco Coelho Santos, EUSKALDUNA STUDIO walks the culinary high-wire with a ‘surprise’ 10-course menu. Just 16 diners (eight at sleek oak tables, eight at a marble counter facing the open kitchen) are treated to a season-driven feast, in which each dish is a mini work of art. 

If you can’t get a table, nearby is recently opened ALMEJA, a bistro, revolutionising the city’s food scene with its delicious five-course tasting menu for just €55 (£47). João Cura takes pride in sourcing locally and serving simple, ingredient-focused dishes like fish of the day with salsify, kale and demi-glace, and sheep’s milk ice cream with sugar beet and crowberries. 

Edging slightly west, just off the Avenida dos Aliados, is urban-cool, butcher shop-themed MUU Steakhouse. Carnivores will be in their element as it’s all about the meat here: start off with crisp, yolky Scotch eggs — a tantalising prelude to a garlicky, melt-in-the-mouth rib-eye. 

Over in the district of Vila Nova de Gaia, chef Ricardo Costa’s THE YEATMAN is a two-Michelin-starred stunner with flawless service and great views over the Douro river. Tasting menus reveal a seasonal slant, along the lines of lobster with cuttlefish and yuzu, Thai skate with coconut and lime, and veal three ways.

If you fancy escaping the city, head out to Foz, where the Douro meets the Atlantic, and discover the Michelin-starred PEDRO LEMOS. At this intimate, subtly lit spot, the menu goes for robust flavours like ultra-fresh white grouper with asparagus, clams and Jerusalem artichokes. 

Barista, Bird of Passage.

Ports of call 

You’re not short of places to try the city’s revered fortified wine. If you only have time for one port tasting, make it British-founded GRAHAM’S, going strong since 1820. This port lodge has tipples ranging from zesty, bone-dry white port (chill and pair with tonic as a gin alternative) to rich, aged tawnies. Tour the cellar before a tasting with views at Vinum, where the historic city centre opens up like a pop-up book from the terrace.

If you’re after a more Portuguese flavour, however, then head to riverfront CÁLEM for a spin of its musty port cellars. Best of all are the tastings, pairing jammy, red-fruit vintage rubies and exceptional tawnies with chocolate and cheese. 

Guided three-port tastings are also offered at TOURIGA, near Aliados metro. The shop is a cavern of highly regarded and lesser-known ports and wines, with affordable shipping rates. 

Prefer more of a bar vibe? PORTOLOGIA, is rustic wine cellar and bar in the Ribeira district. Informal three-port tastings start at €10 (£8.87), but the sky’s the limit when cracking open the aged whites and 40-year-old tawnies. Pair with local cheeses, meats and sardines. 

THE WINE QUAY BAR comes into its own at sunset, meanwhile, with stellar views over the river. Here, delicious Douro wines can be matched with mountain cheese, cured ham and olives. 

TOP TIP

Get into the city’s foodie groove on Taste Porto’s three-and-a-half-hour walking tour. Guides take you everywhere from retro-cool conservas (tinned fish) shops to patisseries making traditional conventual sweets.

Graham’s Lodge Museum.

Ricardo Brochado's favourite spots

Trigo de Cantos
All the produce on offer here comes from Amarante, about 35 miles from Porto. The smoked ham, cheese and organic wines are great, and the wood-fired bread goes amazingly well with grilled chouriço (pork sausage) and morcela (black pudding). 

Monstra Nacional
My all-time favourite northern Portuguese dessert is pudim Abade de Priscos, which is made with loads of egg yolks. This is the go-to place — they serve delicious old-fashioned Portuguese desserts.
T: 00 351 22 408 2898.

Bird of Passage
Belgian barista Paolo opened this coffee shop in 2018. Call in for coffee made with carefully selected beans from all over the world. The eggs Benedict, porridge and homemade cakes are all delicious.

Prova
Diogo, the owner of this jazz bar, has excellent taste in both wine and music, but my personal favourite is the full-bodied António Madeira red from the Dão region paired with a delicious raw-milk goat’s cheese from Beira Baixa.   

Cafe Candelabro
There are 160 different wines by the glass in this second-hand bookstore that’s been transformed into a one-of-a-kind bar. It’s a great place to chill, both inside and on the terrace.

Ricardo Brochado is a food-obsessed tour guide with Taste Porto.

Published in the September 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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