Euskalduna Studio, Porto, 3/6/20

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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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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

Manteigueira – Fábrica De Pastéis De Nata, Porto, 3/6/20

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Manteigueira – Fábrica De Pastéis De Nata is another place where the Portuguese custard tarts are made on site so you can get them when they are still warm.  It is a bright and very new looking place with a coffee bar where they have lots of flavoring options.  Several large windows along the side wall as well as in the front give it a very open feel.  When you walk in, the large kitchen is on your left with pastel de nata in the counter and you can watch them being made.  They sell coffee or port to go with them. To go containers are available as well as boxes of coffee pods.  There are tables where you can sit and be waited on or you can stand at the counter and eat your tart.  We chose the counter and the fellow who waited on us said port was definitely the drink of choice to go with the tarts.  I’m not sure I agree.  While the port was just fine and went well, I think coffee is just as good an accompaniment.  These tarts had a wonderful buttery, crisp and flakey crust and the tart custard had a hint of cinnamon.  These were very good renditions but overall I found the place too sterile.  However, these were my second favorite tarts. Continue reading

Nata Lisboa, Porto, 3/6/20

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Nata Lisboa was the third of the places we found where you could get freshly made, warm Pastel Nata (Portuguese custard tart).  It was one of several restaurants with the same name.  This one had a small interior with only table seating and a good sized patio with tables out front.  While the tarts here could be had warm they were a small part of the large menu.  The staff was friendly but the ambiance was off to me – it felt too much like a chain restaurant.  Even though the tart was served warm there was no evidence of the tarts being made on site.  The tart’s crust did not taste as buttery as the others we tried but the custard had a good consistency.  These were my least favorite rendition and one I wouldn’t go back to. Continue reading

Fábrica Da Nata, Porto, 3/6/20

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exterior

Fábrica Da Nata is mostly a bakery where you can get fresh Pasteis De Nata or hot Portuguese custard tarts, coffee and other bakery items.  It has a few marble wall counters/tables where you can stand and eat and plenty of to-go containers.  The floor is tile and the walls have a tile scene opposite the counter where over which they post the menu and price options.  They also sold sandwiches and salads in a counter out front but this place is all about the custard tarts.  You enter by the person who is making the next batch of pies and then there is a long counter to order at.  They will place your order on a tray and the counter/tables had containers of sugar and cinnamon if you wanted to add it to anything.  But for me the pies were just the bill with a little cup of espresso.  If you’ve never had them they look a little burnt on the top but trust me there is no taste of burned things – it is the result of proper cooking and the flavor is excellent.  These tarts had a nice flakey buttery crust and a looser custard filling than others.  It was a perfect blend of goodness.  The filling was enough but not so it spurted out or didn’t fill the crust.  The coffee was nice and these were my favorite of all the tarts we sampled. Continue reading

O Paparico Restaurante, Porto, 3/5/20

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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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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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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