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Eating & Drinking in Oporto

 



Oporto - Eating and Drinking


16 June 2015


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Oporto

Although the focus of these pages is Oporto's variety of transport, here are a few suggestions for eating and drinking in the city. The choices are completely subjective and there will be many other excellent restaurants and cafés to be found.

Restaurants

Below are a few traditional Portuguese restaurants - a declining phenomenon as McDonalds and more trendy "fusion" establishments take over...
  • A REGALEIRA, Rua do Bonjardim 87, Porto
    A Regaleira is both a restaurant and café and is used by locals as well as visitors. Service is friendly and efficient and the food is good value and well-cooked. The house wine is good value at around 7.50 euros and main courses are typically ten to twelve euros (2015). This restuarant also has snack bar, famous for its invention of a Porto speciality, the "francesinha"; a sort of meat bun topped by melted cheese. Not a trendy establishment by any means but thoroughly reliable for good Portuguese food at good prices.

  • ABADIA, Rua do Ateneu Comercial do Porto, 22, Porto
    The Rua do Ateneu Comercial is a most unlikely location both for this excellent restaurant and the Rodonorte bus station, which lies opposite. The street is most easiy accessed from the Rua Sa da Bandeira, being the first on the left after the intersection with Rua Formosa as you head southwards.

    It has large premises but can get busy after 7.30pm - it opens at 6.30pm. It has an extensive menu of meat and fish as well as a much better wine list than is customary in restaurants which offer such good value meals. Less than twenty euros will buy a generous main course, starter and dessert as well as a named wine brand. Service is prompt and courteous and menus are multi-lingual.

  • AQUÁRIO MARISQUEIRO, Rua Rodrigues Sampaio 163-179, Porto
    This restaurant lies on the road which joins the Avenida dos Aliados near the main post office and fire station.Although this restaurant has now (2015) closed down, the hoardings outside (2015) promise a new restaurant will be opened in the premises. Whether this will have any resemblance to the former Aquario remains to be seen. As its name suggested, fish dishes were its speciality but it also offerrf a good range of meat dishes. Despite superb cooking it was often under used, a situation not helped by a passive approach to attracting custom.

    Cafés

    1. O TURISTA Rua Sa da Bandeira 328
      Despite its name, this excellent cafe/snack bar is frequented by locals as well as tourists. It offers an excellent range of snack, sandwiches and light meals as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and cakes. Services is good and prices very reasonable. It is almost directly opposite both a useful Pingo Doce supermarket (with a good range of very cheap wines) and a smaller Mini Preco supermarket. Buses stopping opposite include the 500 service from nearby Bolhao to Matosinhos via the picturesque coastal route.
    2. CAFE ALIADOS, at intersection of Aliados with first road on left up Av. dos Aliados on left heading from Pc. Liberdade towards Town Hall (Rua da Fabrica).
      Reliable cafe in central location with a good range of snacks, drinks and cakes and cheap prices.
    3. O EMBAIXADOR, Rua do Bonjardim
      Sited close to the Regaleira (see above), this large café offers a range of more substantial dishes in addition to sandwiches and pastries. The seating area is located behind the bar at a lower level.
    4. O GUARANY, Avenida dos Aliados
      Closed on Saturdays and on Sunday mornings, this centrally located café lies about half-way between the Praça da Liberade and the Town Hall, on the left side near the Rua Eli´seo de Melo. It has recently gone more up market than it used to be but offers a good range of meals and snacks, both hot and cold, as well as cakes and a wide assortment of drinks. It is a large facility with traditional fittings, which have changed little in recent years.
    5. CONFEITARIA FLOR DE SÃO BENTO, Praça de Almeida Garrett
      Located opposite the main S. Bento railway station, this fine little café is very conveniently located.
    6. CAFE INTERNACIONAL, at Matosinhos Mercado Metro stop (and 500 bus stop). Excellent snacks and light meals - and you can watch to Metro go past. Adjacent is the bridge over the river which allows good views of the docks at Leixoes.
    7. RESTAURANTE PALÁCIO, Palácio de Cristal
      The Palácio de Cristal lies a mile or so the west of the city centre and this café/restaurant lies next to the Rosa Mota pavilion and the pond.

    Port Wine Cellars, "Caves"

    The city of Vila Nova de Gaia, opposite Oporto, across the D. Luís bridge, is packed with port-wine company premises, many of which are on the waterfront.

    Gaia is reached either by strolling across the lower level of the D. Luis bridge, or by taking the Metro across the upper level to Jardim do Morro stop. From there, you can descend to the quayside either by the cablecar (5 euros) or on foot down the steep winding road. Alternatively, you can take the Guindais funicular from near Batalha down to the riverside, adjacent to the Ponte. The 906 bus is another option from central Porto to the Gaia quayside.

    Until fairly recently many of these port wine premises offered free tours and tastings but now most now make a charge e.g. Cálem, by the bridge, charge 6 euros (2015) and Ramos Pinto (further along towards the cable car station) does likewise. Others on the quayside include Sandeman, Real Companhia, Kopke and Ferreira (at the far end just beyond the cablecar station). Further back from the quayside are other firms, notably Taylor's. If on foot, Taylor's is most easily reached by going up the road at the right hand side of Sandeman's, past Offley's uphill; Taylor's is a small entrance on the right of the Rua do Choupelo, where the modern Yeatman hotel complex is on the left. Taylor's has an interesting English language exhibition around their reception area, worth the visit alone.

    The Ramos Pinto tour is different from most in that it includes a visit to the company's wood-panelled and historic office and museum area. Also the company's founder was a great marketing man and his striking posters and other products are on view as well as for sale in reproduction form. Most companies offer tours in English but you will need to check their times beforehand otherwise you could end up on a tour in another language.

    Typically tours of any of the companies' premises will end with a sampling of at least two different types of port. Most also offer the chance to buy bottles of their port wines; Calem has a very large self-service range of such products.

    Left: The view back towards Oporto from the road near Taylor's lodge in VN de Gaia.

    Right: Cálem's riverfront premises lie under the cable-car's trajectory.




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