Birthday jaunt to Porto
After a dear friend’s wedding in Lisbon, I thought why not hop on the train to Porto (a 3 hour journey) and give that city a whirl, since I’d been to Lisbon before.
The uber driver that picked me up from Campanhã (the other main station is São Bento) said flying is a better option – just 50 minutes and you can get tickets quite affordably. Good to note.
Below’s a lil sum up of my few days in the land of abundant port and steep AF hills…
As always, I researched a healthy amount of places to stay. Lots of gorgeous guest houses like My Home In Porto, Duas Portas, A Bela Aurora and Rosa et al Townhouse.
However, in the end, my friend was keen on having a bigger space for less money, so Airbnb it was (c.£45 per night). Good value for money if not in the prettiest area – you certainly won’t find tourists in this neck of the woods which would appeal to some. I’d still like to go back and try one of those guest houses and for a night of luxury, perhaps The Yeatman.
Eat. You can always count on me for that. Eating for wild pleasure and never for sustenance alone. However, as I usually lament, for some reason my eating capacity has dwindled over the years; I struggle to pack away as much I used to, I did a better job in Paris when I wasn’t even at my peak.
However, I did manage to hit a few spots. One word of advice, even if you’re a spontaneous traveler, try and BOOK in advance (you can always cancel) because a lot of the good restaurants are reservation only and you could end up missing out on some excellent grub.
Brick walls, Cesca chairs and wicker basket chandeliers give the restaurant a chic, laidback but luxe feel. Luckily, style doesn’t come at the expense of substance here, as the food we ordered stood up – with generous portions to boot. Good tuna ceviche to start and a solid sea bass risotto for mains. The main dining room was fully booked on a Mon night but we managed to get a seat in the conservatory which is equally lovely.
Rua da Conceição, 63 4050-215 Porto
+351 22 205 4016 | Open Mon – Sat. Dinner service only on Mon
Image: Portugal Confidential
Holder of a Michelin Plate, DOP is helmed by Rui Paula. We opted for their very reasonable €27 set lunch menu. Starting off with the octopus carpaccio, delightful albeit a little salty for my tastebuds; followed by a hearty portion of veal and gnocchi and summing up the meal with the ‘banana, orange and cookie’ – a modest description for what would turn out to be an excellent dessert plate – there was a mini banana flavoured crème brûlée of sorts which paired delightfully with the orange puree, cookie crunch and caramelized bits of orange. Just yum. Would certainly revisit this spot.
Palácio das Artes, Largo de S. Domingos, 18 4050-545 Porto
+351 22 20 14 313 | Open Mon – Sat. Lunch service only on Mon
The menu is split into three: cruel, cautious and fearful. To me, it felt a little gimmicky and elaborate for what was fairly average food – Jose Avillez on the other hand nailed his theatrical menu at Mini Bar when I visited a few years back. The salmon doughnut balls were fine. The salmon with quinoa I had was perfectly ok. I didn’t hate Cruel by any means and I’d possibly eat here again if nowhere else I wanted to check out was available.
Rua da Picaria, 86/86A, 4050-477, Porto
+351 924 400 259 | Open Everyday
Image: Porto 24
Their Shakshuka is weak – possibly one of the worst meals I’ve paid for. I’d had an Eggs Benedict here on a previous occasion when it was less busy and it was fine. The quality goes down when they are overwhelmed with large numbers. I don’t generally diss places but the huge queues that gather here are insane, so I just want to warn people, it’s really not worth the wait, eat elsewhere! It’s also heavy on the tourists front. If you’re after brunch, I’ve heard Rosa et Al Townhouse does a killer one which is open to non-guests but this is only available at the weekend.
86, Praça de Carlos Alberto, 4050-158 Porto
+351 22 017 1557 | Open Everyday
EUSKALDUNA STUDIO PORTO
It. Is. Wonderful. Cool. Unpretentious. Fine dining. With it’s roots in the Basque Country and Portugal, Euksalanda also taps into Asia for inspiration both for its dishes and overall aesthetic and sensibility. There’s no smoke, there’s no foam, there are no gimmicks at this studio; it is focused, considered, precise cooking that experiments with seasonal produce to deliver flavours to delight your tastebuds. The sommelier guided me through 8 glasses of booze alongside the 10 course tasting menu which you can find out more about here.
R. de Santo Ildefonso 404, 4000-466 Porto
+351 924 400 259
Instagram | Open Wed-Sat 19:00-22:00
DRINKING & NIGHTLIFE
We went to Porto early in the week, so the nightlife it’s fair to say was pretty sleepy. Here are some of the spots we checked out…
Past an unassuming kiosk and up some stairs is the bar Once Upon A Time In Porto aka Era Uma Vez No Porto. We got referred here by a friendly local whilst having dinner at Cruel. Assume it gets rammed the back end of the week and weekend but on a Tue it was super chilled and we occupied the sofa chairs in the candlelit backroom that had a bourgeois bohemian vibe to it. They have a larger sister bar Once Upon A Time In Paris on one of the busiest streets for nightlife in Porto.
R. das Carmelitas 162, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal
+351 22 202 2240
Instagram | Open Mon – Sat from 17:00, Sun from 21:30
Red. Stylized. 70s. David Lynch – loved the look of this place – the folks here though have zero interest in non locals or anyone that’s not their mate for that matter. No menu, so ask for costs of your drinks before you order or you could end up paying over 10 euro for a G&T. There’s also a cinema housed inside the space with a little peeping Tom spot accessible via the bar. A dancefloor awaits you beneath.
Rua de Passos Manuel nº 137 (ao Coliseu), Porto, Portugal
+351 22 205 8351
Facebook | Open Tue-Sun from 22:00
Pretty much directly opposite Passos Manuel is Maus Habitos which is housed in a carpark. It’s kind of a multi functionary space, tripling up as a gig venue, bar and eatery. It also has a small open air space. Drinks are pretty cheap especially in comparison to Passos across the road. The really cheap wine is tempting – don’t do it, go for something higher grade or a spirit and mixer. It’s a little off the beaten track from the main slew of bars / clubs in Porto (for now at least).
R. de Passos Manuel 178, 4º Piso, 4000-382 Porto, Portugal
Instagram | Open Tue-Sun from midday