Popular restaurants in Porto
Tourists got to eat. Like everyone else, yes, except that we are more dependant on good food outside our temporary homes.
Tourist menus are designed for tourists and hence not the muito excelente of Portuguese cuisine.
Which is why we tried one overly recommended local restaurant and another one, frequented by locals a lot and just opposite our doorstep in Porto.
These two places are loved by locals. Actually a good sign. But unfortunately no guarantee, that service or food will be as superfluous as expected.
Just in case, you like to try your own luck with those, there we go.
At Restaurante Postigo do Carvao
Location: Restaurante Postigo do Carvao, Rua da Fonde Taurina 24 a 34, Porto.
For dinner we went to what must be the most popular restaurant in whole Porto. Once we arrived, it already had A4 sheets with “restaurant full” notices sticking up the windows.
But people were still waiting outside. I asked my way through and finally understood that we could chose to wait if we still liked to get in. The system was not to be explained by the waiters who showed little interest to clarify.
What we didn’t know at the time is that, if you see a “restaurant full” sign, it means “look elsewhere” – the waiters have had enough for the day.
Instead we went for a stroll to kill some time. A short walk later, back to the restaurant and we saw some empty tables thorough the windows. I felt a bit like a in intruder slipping through the net. However, once we sat down (and were eventually noticed by the waiter), we were brought a new table cloth, plates with the restaurant’s logo (which is considered fancy in Europe) and three starters (bread, sausage and cheese).
At least, we were going to be served.
A glance at the menu and the restaurant’s starter policy was revealed in prominent red letters: “You pay what you touch”. Very straightforward. So were the waiters.
After we noticed that our starter consisted of sausages, we kindly asked for a vegetarian starter in exchange but the waiter didn’t really have an ear for veggie whims. Instead he pointed to other options in the menu and his finger landed on hamburgers.
No doubt his recommendation was genuine and by ordering olives, soup, asparagus salad and mushrooms, we surely didn’t make any sense to him. Consequently the olives never made it to our table.
The food was not bad but nothing special and the soup, solely distinguishable from every other Portuguese entrée soup by the price tag.
That was probably the reason why it took forever to get the bill. That and the fact that two positions, we had not ordered, were added. The issue was resolved at the cash register and in the end we paid 24 Euros for our meals consisting of starters. Not including tips.
To make a fair judgement, it might just be that we simply ordered all the wrong things, with the wrong waiter, caught on the wrong foot, on the wrong day.
We have had super friendly and super unfriendly waiters in Portugal but so far I cannot see a rule forming. Big, small, renowned, ordinary establishments… it is all the same unpredictability.
At Lusa de Carlos Manuel Miranda
Location: Lusa de Carlos Manuel Miranda, Rua Sao Joao 85, Porto.
This restaurant is one with impeccable service (we went twice).
You can see the kitchen (from where we sat) which is run by one cook, while the restaurant seems to be run by one waitress.
The cook looks like a children’s story book figure – small of height but corpulent, a wooden spoon in hand, barely reaching the stove, draped in an apron and a cooks hat, wearing incredibly thick glasses which gave her incredibly magnified googly eyes.
As a result, the food was sized accordingly, so as not to be overlooked.
My portion of octopus, a chopped off leg, served in a family-lasagne-dish.
I am dealing with post traumatic tentacle shock syndrome as we speak. So I enhanced the picture quality of the leg.
The other dishes. Were tasty but also huge. Additionally, we have had (very good) starter soup beforehand.
We ordered two versions of bacalhau, Portugal’s signature dish, and if you are in Portugal and have not had it yet, I recommend this place to try.
Those fried bacalhau balls were served with rice.
The other spacious lasagne-dish presented bacalhau with potatoes.
There was no room for desert left. A pity, as they have some fresh made choices on display which I would have loved to try.
We paid 48,80 Euros for the three of us. The bill included starters and fresh orange juice for drinks. Price is before tipping but I was told that tipping is not a custom in Portugal, and that you are only expected to tip in touristy places.
A bonus, the restaurant was just opposite our apartment.
Well, part of the fun of travel is, you never know what you gonna get. I hear that keeping your mind flexible is a virtue.
Cheers to that!