We ate a lot in Porto. But that's exactly how we wanted it.
Upon the recommendation of one of the staff at our hotel, we ate ate local dishes in a place called Pedro Dos Frangos and it was a bizarre experience for me seeing as I wrote about a Portuguese chicken restaurant in the story "Homes from Homes" in Shy Feet and walking up the stairs and into the place was like entering a blurred scene in that story with all the no-frills style, local families at tables and a lot of Portuguese words flying around almost as fast as the waiters moved around. I ordered the house bacalhau (salted cod that was fried in batter and served hidden under these more-ish home made chips that were thick like fries) and NewMan ate half a chicken from the rotisserie. It was a good meal and a place we would have walked passed without that recommendation.
One afternoon I went to Cafe Majestic for coffee and a pastel de nata while writing postcards. It always pops up in write ups of Porto and yes it's worth a quick coffee in, maybe lunch or dinner too, thanks to its art nouveau interior. However, I felt a little rushed by those serving me (and it wasn't even full when I was there). But, I would probably recommend Confeitaria do Balhao over Cafe Majestic for a more authentic Portuguese cafe experience (and just as interesting interior) and also because they had the most impressive collection of mini pastries and cakes. We took two mini pasteis de nata away for just 0,30 cents each! And as I explored more of Porto, I saw more of these mini pastries in many tempting bakeries. Port happens to be one of NewMan's favourite tipples and so a visit to one of the Port houses was essential. We went to Ramos Pinto and tried two vintage ports, a white port and a 2000 blend. We left a little wobbly but very smiley. The final stop on our culinary tour of Porto was to eat a Francesinha and again the staff at our hotel recommended another cheap and cheerful locals' place, Cafe Santiago. And did I like Francesinha, a Porto speciality consisting of a meat-filled open sandwich (but with the bread on top of a small hill of sausage, pork and ham) covered in cheese and served with a spicy, beer-based sauce? Well, no I didn't. I really found it too much and the meat was all a bit fatty and salty for my taste. But I'm glad I tried it. I also didn't get a photo of the place we ate tapas in Praça da Ribeira after our bike ride (the light had disappeared already. I don't usually succumb to such a touristy and obvious location but the food service and port at Pipas were all worth the risk. You can find most of these places also on this Foursquare list I curated.
For more info about the food scene in Porto, check out this food tour of Porto by Julie Fox.
Frances M. Thompson
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.