Cosmo’s Bar and Restaurant, Dallas, 9/29/20 and 10/10/20

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Cosmo’s Restaurant and Bar (1212 Skillman St., Dallas, 75206, <cosomosbar.net>) is a medium sized neighborhood lounge that has been in business for years.  My understanding is that it started as a bar with a small pizza kitchen and several years ago the manager/chef Jackson Tran (now part owner) wanted to expand the menu with Vietnamese specialties from his family, to see how that would impact business.  It was a terrific idea that has really caught on with more than just the locals.  It’s a small kitchen so food may take a bit of time but while you wait there is a full bar with well made drinks.   The interior has lots of vintage furniture and decorations.  They were ready for Halloween the evening we went.  The heavily tinted windows to the street along one wall keep it dark inside even before sunset.  Tables are well spaced and there is hanging plexiglass between seating areas.  A large u-shaped bar has spaced stools for eating and/or drinking.  Music was in the background and there was a patio.  Besides the tasty Vietnamese items the menu features pizzas.  Unfortunately the night we were there they were out of the Beef Pho, but I will definitely go back to try it and some of the other things on the menu.  Service was friendly, helpful and well masked. Continue reading

The Peak Inn, Dallas, 9/25/20

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The Peak Inn opened in November of 2019 and then closed for much of Covid till it re-opened in late May.  It is on a street corner and we entered around 5:30 in the afternoon and the drop in lighting was dramatic.  The sun outside was full force but you’d never know it inside where some colored lights give most of the glow.  It wasn’t crowded, with just 3 guys playing pool in a back room but we were there to check out the patio for Covid outside dining options.  It was also empty with a variety of chairs and picnic tables.  A TV screen was on but made no noise as music was in the background.  We ordered beers at the bar on our way in and a server came out after a bit to give us menus.  On the way in we passed through the pool table room and another lounge area that had a fake fire place going.  All was pretty dark with lots of music.  They state that all their food is cured, ground and made in house.  People were friendly and masked. Continue reading

Snake River Grill, Jackson, WY., 9/11/20

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Snake River Grill was founded in 1993 and is a large place that offers spaced indoor seating (recently opened) and a couple of options for outdoor dining (as long as weather permits).  All the seating is on the second level with one patio directly adjacent to the indoor area and the other on a large rooftop across some stairs, but it’s covered by a tent and has heaters.  Inside you get the full ambiance of the place’s Western decor with the log walls, the candles hanging from antlers, skin wrapped light fixtures and a ceiling defined by logs and held up with log columns.  The lighting is lowered and carpet is on the floor.  The tables are well distanced and covered with white clothes and diners are given a matching cloth napkin once they’re seated.   Some of the tables have bench seating to match the un-cushioned wood chairs.   A bar is immediately in front of the entry, no music is in the background but there is lots of conversational hum and there are many windows on the walls of the various rooms. Service was slow to start but then was nicely paced and very friendly with helpful opinions.  Reservations are needed and to get a good time you need to do that at least a month ahead. Continue reading

Persephone Bakery, Jackson, WY., 9/11/20

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Persephone was a really popular place, that served excellent baked goods, coffee and sandwiches.  You line up to make your order and then can take it with you or eat at one of the tables on the outside patio.  There were tables inside but no one sat there.  We wanted to get stuff to take with us during our drive through the national park and so placed our order online and they gave us a time when we could pick it up at a separate window around the side.    They serve only breakfast foods until 10:30 after which they do offer lunch salads and sandwiches.  They also offer pre-packaged cookies, teas and other foods.  We scoped out the order counter one day and ordered from them the next day.  Later we got some cinnamon brioche to eat in the hotel the next morning but they did not work out as well as our other orders.  I don’t know if they came dry or just turned that way being held overnight.  Either way they found their way to the trash rather than our stomachs. Continue reading

Silver Dollar Showroom, Jackson, WY., 9/10/20

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We went to the Silver Dollar Showroom following our dinner for an after dinner drink.  It is part of the historic Wort Hotel.  As you enter you go to the left for the bar and to the right if you want to eat.  The bar is a large place with a curved bar covered with laminated silver dollars and well spaced tables.  They have live music on weekends but not while we were there.  We sat at the bar and after our first round the server told us it was Whiskey Wednesday so we tried some of those.  It’s a stretch to include in this blog but this way you’ll have the menu and an idea of what it looks like if you get the chance to go. Continue reading

Trio An American Bistro, Jackson, WY., 9/10/20

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Trio opened in 2005 by the two chefs that also operate Local.  They serve a seasonal menu with nightly specials in a relaxed atmosphere.  They have a number of specialty cocktails and cook primarily in a wood-fired oven.  It is a good sized place with the blond wood bare tables well spaced by taking the 2-top tables, setting them with candles and using them as spacers.  Therefore everyone gets a nice size table which are set with lovely large linen napkins.  One end of the very modern room is an open kitchen, with plexiglas in front of it.  There are seats at the bar in front and some tables outside.  Bench seats run along the walls with very comfy seating.  No-arm blond wood chairs are on the other side.  Art is on the wall and it’s for sale.  Music is in the background.  Eating outside is preferable regarding the virus but the inside here is very lovely and very well done, so I would chose sitting inside.  Service was really friendly, opinionated and timing was very nice. Continue reading

Local, Jackson, WY., 9/10/20

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Local is a steakhouse and bar in the historic town square of Jackson.  It has many rooms, some of which are for dinner and some for lunch and others for both.  We sat in the room with the bar counter and it had plexiglass between the seats and bar as did the booths have plexiglas between them.  The black wood tables were set off by the brown wood floor and light wood walls with mirror insets.  The booths had a padded seat whereas the bar was set with dark wood chairs with backs that were unpadded.  Music was in the background and a TV was playing in the bar area but it was muted.  We made a reservation for lunch which the website recommended but when we showed up the person at the entrance seated the 2 walk-up parties ahead of us in line to get in.  Their lunch menu was mostly sandwiches, particularly burgers and they had one special of the day (a hot ham and cheese sandwich) as well as a soup that changes daily.  Service was helpful, opinionated and efficient. Continue reading

Glorietta, Jackson, WY., 9/9/20

old entrance (now go through the side door)

Glorietta is an Italian Trattoria with a focus on housemade pasta and wood-fired cooking.  Located in the Anvil Hotel they offer both indoor and patio seating.  Inside the medium room the tables have a lot of space between them, which is good for slowing the spread of virus but leaves the room feeling empty.  The focal point of the room is the large bar with the kitchen and wood burning fire behind it and another seating bar in front of it.  They finally seated someone at the front bar but without much overhang it looked pretty uncomfortable.  The floor is tiled, the ceiling is painted wood and bench seating is on many walls to match up with chairs on the other side of the good sized tables.  The bare wood tables are set with a large cloth napkin and lighting is lowered, but there are a number of windows in the room so that is only an issue after the sun sets.  Service was friendly but rushed.  We wanted to try a number of things and I specifically asked that it not be served on top of the last one but it was.  In fact the main plates came out before all the appetizer plates were cleared.  I realized with limited seating they want to turn the tables quickly but in these times we must find a way to make the experience pleasurable for the diner and profitable for the restaurant. Continue reading

The Bird, Jackson, WY., 9/9/20

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The Bird is a large place, located a bit out of town that opened in 2010.  Inside are 2 large rooms, one containing the oval shaped bar and outside is a good sized deck with a spectacular view of the mountains.  There are no umbrellas or heaters outside.  The bar offers all mixed drinks as well as a ton of tap beers.  The room with the bar is decorated with tap handles from those beers they no longer carry.  They are mounted on metal bars all over.  It’s mainly a burger bar but also is known for its wings.  Country music plays prominently and service is friendly.  They wore masks for the most part and limit the number of people that can be in at any time.  You must wait at the door to be let in by the server.  They don’t take reservations and are popular with locals. Continue reading

Cristinas, Ketchum, Idaho, 9/5/20

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Cristina’s was opened in 1993 by Cristina Cook, 5 years after she moved here from Italy.  She has written 2 cookbooks.  The place is open for breakfast, lunch and brunch and is using their large outdoor seating area rather than the interior.  You enter into the small salmon colored house to find a counter filled with sweet and savory foods which are available for purchase.  There were a couple room inside but outside they have a large tent complete with chandeliers over the wood deck and individual tables with umbrellas on the lawns around the house.  The white cloth covered tables were well spaced and set with white cloth napkins.  Lots of plants and flowers surround the diners.  No music is in the background.  The small menu has the daily specials written in.  Chef Cook was in the kitchen but she never came out to greet guests.  Seating was only by reservation or waiting a couple hours.  Servers wore masks, were friendly and all seemed to work together to take care of the tables. Continue reading

Michel’s Christiania, Ketchum, Idaho, 9/4/20

Michel’s Christiania Restaurant was opened around 1994 by Chef/Owner Michel Rudigoz.  The French raised chef actually moved to Ketchum to coach a Sun Valley Ski team.  He also coached Picabo Street the year she won her first Olympic Medal.  His love of classic French cuisine is the basis of this restaurant.  It is a large A-frame building with a good sized patio in the back.  The interior also has a bar and upstairs party room.  Tables were well distanced inside and out, covered with white clothes and set with black napkins.  The patio was even nicer than the outside, to me, with a center fountain (no music in the background to compete with the sound of trickling water) and a large awning over the section adjacent to the building.  Greenery surrounds the patio and a small wall separates diners from the street which was not that busy.  Lighting under the awning was better than further out, but that matters most if you want to take photos.  The menu features some local ingredients and also there were a couple nightly specials.  Servers wore masks and were friendly but service did not live up to the standard the place wants to be – timing was variable and after placing our champagne in an ice bucket the server never refilled our glasses without being requested to do so. Continue reading

Hudson House (Lakewood), Dallas, 9/2/20

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Hudson House recently opened their third Dallas location in the Lakewood area.  The restaurant is owned by Vandelay Hospitality and is said to be known for it’s East Coast oyster happy hour and burger.  It is open for lunch , dinner and brunch.  They offer curbside pick up as well as indoor dining.  Seating is in booths, tables and at the bar.  It is a pretty large place and people at the bar were well spaced but booth seating didn’t seem to be limited.  They also have a “Pineapple Room” available for parties and it was empty.  Reservations were necessary and there is plenty of parking in the lot out front.  All staff wore well fitting masks and were friendly and helpful.  Service was efficient but I didn’t feel rushed.  Inside there was a wood floor with bare wood tables.  Around the bar was a path of the tiniest tiles – very striking.  The walls held a lot of New York and sports based art.  Music was in the background and the place was well lit. Continue reading

Noyo Harbor Inn Restaurant and Tavern, Fort Bragg, CA., 8/13/20

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building

Noyo Harbor Restaurant is part of the historic Noyo Harbor Inn in Fort Bragg, CA.  They have a good sized multi level patio for outside dining that overlooks the active marina and flowing river.  Many of the metal tables, but not all, had umbrellas to provide shade, were set on the patio’s tile floor, had some heaters and no music was in the  background.  Servers wore masks and each table had a small bottle of hand sanitizer.   The bathroom was inside by the inn’s check-in desk.   The lovely view and multiple levels made it a very pleasant place to sit enjoy your meal.   The restaurant had wild caught and daily catch from the harbor as well as vegetables and herbs from the Chef’s garden.  We were there midday and they had a brunch menu as well as daily specials.  It offered the aforementioned seafood as well as a number of breakfast items.  They had cocktails, beer and wine by the glass or bottle.  Service was friendly but less refined (one of the servers splashed coffee on my blouse while pouring).  I saw some of the breakfast food come out and the plates looked generous. Continue reading

Wild Fish, Little River, CA., 8/12/20

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exterior

Wild Fish was opened on November of 2011 by a British couple, Liz and Kelvin Jacobs, who had relocated to California.  She was a food writer and he a chef and they wanted to create a restaurant that served local, seasonal  and sustainable seafood and organic produce.  They have an additional place in Pacific Grove, CA.  They have been offering take out options but in Little River they also had a small patio behind the restaurant  that overlooked the ocean and greenery leading up to the shore.  There were only 6 small bare wood tables and one actually was on the parking lot.  The restaurant was behind a gas station/convenience store/post office and there were no umbrellas for shade but heaters were there for later in the evening.  There was music in the background, a small bottle of hand sanitizer on each table and  lots of plants on the patio.  Servers were friendly and wore masks.  They had a small but well chosen wine list and many wines were offered by the glass (a good pour) as well as by the bottle.  Each food item had a suggested wine to go with it and we chose to try their suggestions, creating our own tasting. Continue reading

Mission Ranch, Carmel, 7/31/20

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entrance on road

Mission Ranch dates back to the 1800’s.  It covers 22 acres with views of the Pacific Ocean, Point Lobos, Santa Lucia Mountains and the beach and Clint Eastwood, former Mayor of Carmel and longtime Carmel resident, rescued the property from developers and turned it into a resort location.  The 10 buildings on the property include 31 hotel rooms and a restaurant featuring Classic American cuisine where you can watch the sheep graze while you eat your dinner.  There was a piano bar but it is now closed due to Covid-19.  The restaurant does not take reservations but you can go by and get on a list and they will call you when your table is about ready.  Masks are required and tables are well spaced.  There were 2 large patio areas for dining with a few standing heaters in each area.  As the night wore on and the temperatures dropped they could have used a few more heaters.  Once we made it to the table service was prompt and friendly.  The menu and wine list are all available through the scan square and there is a wifi network if you don’t have service.  You can bring your own wine with a corkage of $25. Continue reading

Nepenthe, Big Sur, 7/31/20

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facility

Nepenthe is 808 feet above sea level in Big Sur on the site of The Log House that was built in 1925.  Nepenthe, named for a plant ancient writers described as inducing a pleasurable sensation, was designed by Rowan Maiden, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright using native materials of red wood and adobe so the building became one with the landscape.  It is a facility on several levels with the main dining area on the top, the gift shop on the first and a more casual dining spot on the second level.  You can drive up much of the hill but then there are several sets of stairs to climb to the top.  Each level has magnificent vistas to take in of the water and tree covered hills.  The main dining room for Nepenthe was a large room with a long counter that now serves as a staging area for the plates to be served on the outside seating on the balconies around it and the large patio in front of it.  There was music inside the room but none outside.  You need to walk through the room to get to the bathroom.   It is really busy so we got there before they opened and checked in to get a beeper that went off when they were ready to seat us. Continue reading

Aubergine (update), Carmel, 7/30/20

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L’Auberge Hotel

We visited Aubergine one year ago but currently California does not permit indoor dining.  Luckily Carmel has great weather for this change and the L’Auberge Hotel has a beautiful courtyard to move the restaurant guests to.   The polished wood tables are well spaced from each other and set with placemats and large linen napkins.  The patio has a brick floor, lots of plants and is punctuated with various lighting sources and heat lamps.  It is a lovely place to sit in the lighted hours as well as after the sun sets.  Various benches and chairs on the perimeter are used by people who ordered a separate drink from the bar.  All staff wore masks and were extraordinarily welcoming (as are all the staff at the hotel), especially Chef Justin Cogley who served some of the courses and visited with guests.  They now offer just one tasting menu to all and wine pairings are available.  You can view the wine list on your smart phone with the link provided.  Portion control was good and pacing was leisurely but never lagged.  It started quicker and then slowed slightly.  It still has one Michelin star but I see this place moving to 2 stars soon.  Put it on your list of places to go. Continue reading

La Bicyclette (update), Carmel, 7/30/20

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restaurant

Frankie and I visited La Bicyclette just a year ago and while the food is still good it is a much smaller place as all the seating has moved to the outside (due to Covid 19 regulations of CA.)   They have built a small deck so that seating is at sidewalk level but there are not many tables (I counted seven 2-tops and two 4-tops) and they do not take reservations.  We lined up before they opened and snagged one of the first round of seatings.  The small wood tables were set with a hand towel for a cloth with some umbrellas  and heaters dividing the tables.  The heaters would be good in the evening but during the daytime they could use more umbrellas as it gets quite sunny on this less busy street.  The menu offered a couple specials as well as a daily soup.  Service was friendly and helpful with all servers wearing masks and trying to afford distance  between them and patrons when possible. Continue reading

Flying Fish Grill, Carmel, 7/29/20

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entrance and patio

The Flying Fish Grill website still lists Tina and Kenny Fukumoto as owners rather than Honza Prikryl who bought it 3 years ago but has not been able to get control of the website to change things.  The menu is correctly reflected on the website except they temporarily don’t offer Clay Pots as that was part of the indoor service.  It looked like a cozy place but currently dining was outside of the restaurant, along the bricked corridor of a shopping plaza, set off the street.  The good sized tables were unclothed metal ones some with umbrellas attached.   Service was friendly but with a few glitches, but then everyone is adapting to new rules and systems.  The inside restaurant was down a set of stairs so staff had to bring everything up to the “new” dining area.   The menu is all about Asian fusion seafood and a couple specials were also offered by the server. Continue reading

Dametra Café, Carmel, 7/29/20

IMG_6596Dametra Café specializes in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food.  The small cafe opened in 2008 and is even smaller now having only outdoor dining due to Covid 19 restrictions of California.  The same table set up runs along the street in front of the building with tables divided by planters and heaters and separated from the street by a wooden fence.  The narrow, small tables are covered with bright yellow oil-cloth tableclothes and set at street level rather than sidewalk.  It makes some difficult to get in and out but didn’t seem to keep the crowd away.  It’s reputation is that there is often a line for walk-up guests but we were lucky and got a table when we arrived. They offer the same menu at lunch and dinner but add sandwiches to the lunch offerings.   They also have a more limited menu for curbside pickup.  Service was friendly, helpful and efficient.  Even with an ever-changing supply of table guests they did not rush us to finish up our wine so they could reseat the table. Continue reading

Gracie’s Sea Hag, Depoe Bay, OR., 6/24/20

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sign

Gracie’s Sea Hag opened in 1963 and promotes itself as having the finest and freshest sea fare on the Oregon coast.  Gracie Strom and her husband Dic started the place but he died a few years after it opened.  From the reviews I read, she sounded like quite a character – playing the bottles behind the bar to create tunes and greeting all guests like they were long time friends.  Sadly in 2006 she sold the place and I’m not sure it has the same fun vibe, however that is hard to judge in this time of Corona virus.  It is a large place with large tables, booths on one side of the room and tables on the other.  The booths were all separated by panels of stained glass windows of sea life above the stuffed benches and got extra lighting via a hanging stained glass light fixture.  The bare wood tables on the other side are set with unstuffed wood chairs.  The floor is a mix of carpet and tile, the ceiling is of wood with exposed duct work running down the middle of the long room.  A counter at the front of the room had menus, souvenirs and a person who greets you and takes you to a table.  The other end of the room is a service area that leads into the kitchen.   Continue reading

Desert Racer, Dallas, 5/31/20

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exterior

Nick Badovinus opened Desert Racer in 2019.   The Covid 19 outbreak temporarily closed the place and when it recently re-opened several major changes happened.  A concrete wall surrounds the small restaurant and large 8,000 sq. ft. patio.  Wall signs point to the original entrance but now the exit and entrance are through the same break in the wall, under the motorcycle.  Inside is a long bar and tables with garage door type windows that roll up to let the outside in.  The menu is currently called Vantina and based on a pop-up food truck, which is now parked in the patio but the food comes from the kitchen.  That means the menu is much smaller than when the place first opened but fits the setting. (The only dessert offered  was soft serve ice cream).   Currently they have just 4 “indoor” tables and two groupings of 2 seats at the bar were open.  The large patio had various means of shade and fans but some did receive full sun.  Lots of plants are inside and out and outside the polished wood tables are mostly on artificial grass.  Inside the same tables are on rugs on a concrete floor.  There is lots of parking in a dedicated lot and the patio is smoke free.  Servers were friendly, efficient and wore masks. Continue reading

Coque (update), Madrid, 3/7/20

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exterior

We visited Coque a little over 3 years ago and 2 years and 7 months ago they moved to a new location.  It still has a similar format to the older place in that you move to different locations in the building to eat and drink various offerings.  This 2 star Michelin restaurant serves everyone the same tasting menu.  It is a modern, stylish set up but it does not allow you to make personal connections with staff or other diners.  There are lots of bites on the menu but it is not a stuffing meal, despite that.  I also found the timing to be off with some rooms lingering too long while others were sped through.  They offer drink pairings for purchase and then some courses come with a beverage.  We selected our own wine which you do while in the large wine room.  They have a large list but not much help in selection.  It would have been nice to have the list while in the bar area where we spent a good amount of time with just one bite and  a cocktail.  In this new location they have changed the dining room chairs I objected to in the original place, which is a huge plus in my opinion.  One of the most memorable parts of the place is it’s amazing collection of plates and serving dishes. Continue reading

Las Reses, Madrid, 3/7/20

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Exterior

Las Reses opened in 1964 and is set below street level.  It is spread over a couple rooms and bright with lots of red walls covered with decorations.  The floors are wood and no music is in the background.  The tables have adequate spacing and are set with white clothes which cover the floor length beige ones and large white napkins.  The staff were friendly but spoke limited English.   It is mostly a restaurant dedicated to beef steaks for which they have carts to come around to the table and show you the cuts of meat.  It is all a la carte and some of the cuts are sold by the kilo.  There were several larger parties there and it looked like they took their remainder of the meat back to reheat it after the initial serving.  Continue reading

Euskalduna Studio, Porto, 3/6/20

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exterior

Euskalduna Studio opened in 2016.  It was a small place with a couple tables in the front for groups of 4 and the rest of the guests were on the 10 high wood chairs with arms in front of a stone counter across from the open kitchen.  On the wall above the cooking area was a display of knives.  Behind was a wall of light wood, shelves for glassware and above, an interesting acoustical ceiling.  It felt very stylish yet casual.  Music was in the background and the lights were lowered.  Everyone in attendance is served a tasting menu but what is on your menu varies.  Each time you return the chef, Vasco Coelho Santos, will design you a new menu of dishes inspired by many cultures (particularly Japanese) but with a Portuguese twist.   We were lucky to sit next to their Number 1 fan who has been once a month and is now a real challenge for chef Santos to find new surprises to prepare for her.  With each tasting menu they do offer wine pairings as well as non-alcoholic options.  Wines are also available by the bottle and glass.  Pacing and portion control were just right.  I would put this on your list to get to if you can. Continue reading

Café Santiago, Porto, 3/6/20

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exterior

Café Santiago was a new looking and bright place, but has been in business since 1959 .  Windows to the street were on one end of the long place that reached through to the next block where there was another entrance.  A wood floor and tile walls are the room that housed the ‘lower level’ with closely spaced veneer topped tables.  Photos are on the walls.  Up a few stairs was the kitchen and a bar along with more tables.  It had a large menu but they are known for their Francesinhas – sandwich original to Porto.  It is commonly made with ham, fresh sausage and roast meat and then covered with melted cheese and maybe an egg and served with french fries. The sandwich comes in many variations and that seemed to be what most came for.  There were a combination of obvious tourists as well as some regular locals, who were recognized by the staff.   Continue reading

O Paparico Restaurante, Porto, 3/5/20

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exterior

O Paparico can seat about 36 people in a couple rooms and has been open for 11 years.  The large white cloth covered tables have an ecru floor drape and are nicely spread apart and accompanied by small service tables.  After you knock on the door, the Butler lets you in and there is a small comfortable entry room with a bar counter and leather furniture for you to wait for your table.  Lights are lowered and the low wood ceiling works well with the stone walls and tile floor.  Soft music plays in the background and lots of candles and photos on the walls add to the cozy atmosphere.  Noise is not an issue for conversations.  The menu is presented in an envelope you must open to study the 3 tasting menu choices.  All are surprise menus so you chose between vegetarian, Portuguese or regional themes and they also offer optional wine pairings and a cheese course supplement.  All the menus change every couple weeks.  Originally they offered a la carte options but abandoned that choice several years ago. Pacing and portion control were both good and the staff spoke excellent English. Continue reading

Antiqvvm, Porto, 3/5/20

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museum on the top, restaurant below

Antiqvvm was located on the basement level of a large building that housed a museum on the floors above.  There was a terrace off the back that had amazing views of the water and city but weather was not with us that day however the table we had was next to floor to ceiling windows which felt about the same.  The white cloth covered tables were well spaced and music was in the background.  The room we sat in looked like it was an enclosed porch but now had carpets on the concrete floor however the stone details of the walls and windows were still intact.  A timber ceiling had been painted over and some the the seating was in a bench format.  They had been open for 5 years last October and received their one Michelin star in the first year they were open.  They offered 3 tastings, one of which was vegetarian and one was entirely seafood.  They also had an a la carte menu and a special lunch menu of 3 or 4 courses (for 3 you chose between fish or meat and with 4 you get both).  They had a number of wines by the glass and we ordered some of them to go with the lunch menu.  Service was efficient, super friendly and our server spoke great English. Continue reading

Restaurante Pedro Lemos, Porto, 3/4/20

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exterior

Pedro Lemos, located on a really narrow little street, opened in 2009.  The downstairs level had wine storage, the bathroom and a large dining table for big groups.  In 2015 they did a major renovation and made the upstairs a room with more widely spaced  tables and took out a bar area and fireplace to make this additional space between tables.  The nice sized tables were set with white clothes, napkins, purse stools and armless padded chairs.  There were windows to the outside on 2 walls and a beautiful old wood floor.  A decoration of swallows crossed the ceiling and on to the upper part of the dark walls.  Music was in the background and the lighting was lowered.  They offered two tasting menus of 8 or 10 courses and optional wine pairings.  We chose the 10 course tasting.  Portions were on the large side and pacing was good.  The staff were quite friendly and spoke great English.  It has one Michelin star. Continue reading

Cafeína, Porto, 3/4/20

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exterior

Cafeína was a medium sized place in the corner of a building and has been in business for 24 years.  Small, closely spaced tables were set with white clothes and napkins and padded chairs.  Music played in the background, the floor was concrete with a rug in the center of the room, windows to the outside were on several walls, steel beams were structural yet decorative parts of the dining room and a bar counter is at the entry with dining rooms on both sides.  Noise  was not a problem even when the room was full.  The place had a relaxed atmosphere with guests enjoying themselves and many appearing to be ‘regulars.’  The menu was a la carte but at lunch they did have a special offered that was 3 course with choices for each course.  Specials on wine were also available for lunch.  The lunch special menu was not translated but our server was happy to help with any terms we didn’t know.  Service was efficient, friendly and helpful.  The lunch menu really appealed and so we chose that option and some of their wines by the glass.   The pours by the glass were fairly generous. Continue reading