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Jan 31, 2005 11:21 PM

Bay Area Portuguese Food Recap

  • k

My Bay area tour of Portugal ends. I’m sure with a population of over half a million Portuguese in this region, I’ve missed quite a few places. In this recap, I am not noting everything offered by these establishments, only the highlights.


La Salette, Sonoma– Upscale and outstanding Portuguese food. If you are new to this cuisine, start here. Wood fired oven baked breads, an emphasis on seafood, house made cheeses, a large selection of ports and great rice pudding. In the morning there are crepes and Portuguese baked goods fresh from the oven.

Sousa’s, San Jose – A favorite of the Bay Area Portuguese. The Tuesday and Friday Lunch buffets feature almost every dish on the menu.

Grubstake, SF – Portuguese in addition to American. Will make any Portuguese dish upon request and advanced notice. Serves Fernandes Sao Jorge Linguica, said to be the best and most authentic Azorean Linguica in the Bay Area

Café Docanto, San Jose A little café that brews Portuguese coffee. You can also have port and Popular Bakeries cookies.

Duarte’s, Pescadero - Serves Fernandes Sao Jorge Linguica. Will occasionally have a daily special of braised tripe made in the Portuguese style, other than that, no other Portuguese dishes.


Popular bakery, San Jose – the best quejidas and “pastéis de nata" (tiny lemony custard tart), Good Portuguese rolls, Very nice small white anise flavored cookie with a Jordan almond like coating. Seasonal malassadas and filhos (sugar donuts).

Hiser Bakery, Santa Clara – Daily bread specials like bolo. Good “pastéis de nata" and cookies. Nice small selection of cheeses, meats and fish. Seasonal baked goods like Malassadas (sugar donuts), folares (Easter bread with whole eggs baked in), and Christmas bread. Fourteen cake flavors for wedding cakes. Locally published “Foods of the Azores Islands” cookbook.

The Portuguese Bakery, Santa Clara - Filhos / Malacadas (Sugar Doughnuts), nine flavors of Biscoitos, lemony Portuguese rice pudding. On the last Saturday afternoon of each month, they serve sopas (Portuguese pot roast and cabbage served over bread with mint)

The Markets

Mayolo’s Trade Rite Market, San Jose - The best Portuguese / Brazilian market with a fresh meat counter, cheeses, hot deli meats, a whole wall of Portuguese and Brazilian wines and liquors, baked goods from all three Portuguese bakeries and an extensive selection of groceries.

Neto Sausage Company, Santa Clara – Linguica, Spanish sausages, Portugese cheeses and groceries. Friday afternoon BBQ (except December).

People’s Market, Rodeo - Small market with Portuguese cheeses, meats, wines, groceries. Hot Linguica sandwiches on Portuguese rolls. A note: excellent selection of premium tequilas. Wine prices beat BevMo.

Hiser Bakery and La Salette also have some Portuguese groceries.


Check for the frequent Portuguese festas and events in the Bay area where you will find Portuguese food. One poster wrote:

“I recommend the big festa in July in Moneterey at the FDES Portuguese Hall there. There is a parade in downtown Monterey where hundreds of other Portuguese chapters from California march. After there is music, lots of food and drink, and the soupas are served to thousands of people and free! There is also a fund raising auction where you can buy many Portuguese items you will never find in stores.

This is a great one to attend because it is very big (about 10,000 people) and no one has to feel weird about not being Portuguese there, everyone is welcome!”

The Sociedade Filarmonica Uniao Popular, has Friday night dinners (cost around $12) where the public is welcome to join the band for Portuguese style home cooking and then listen to the m practice afterwards.

Neto Sausage Company, Santa Clara - Friday barbecue. Every Friday throughout the year, this Portuguese sausage maker and deli serves sandwiches that contain meats cooked on an outdoor grill.

Bay Area Portuguese food is mainly Azorean. It would be nice if there were some restaurants that featured mainland dishes.

Posts on all of the above are linked to this post. If links break, search on Krys and Portuguese.

Other links and Chowhound discussions on the above establishments not referenced one of the posts:

Neto Sausage Company,

I have not visited this company as of this post.

La Salette

This is a different opinion on La Salette. I’ve found that from talking to Bay Area Portuguese people that Sousa’s is preferred to La Salette. In my experience, Sousa’s would not make someone new to the cuisine a fan. My feeling is that like American food, some people prefer the every day restaurant to the fine dining experience. Both restaurants are good in their own way.

I do agree with this post that the “overall knowledge was lacking” when speaking with the servers. My experience wasn’t bad, but there were little lapses when I asked questions. The servers were very pleasant.

I will also agree that it seems that even though all of the dishes are Portuguese, the restaurant isn’t in your face about that fact. I think the word “Portuguese” does scare some people off because they are unfamiliar with that type of food. I even did a post about La Salette’s morning baked goods eliminating the word Portuguese so more people would be interested.

The restaurant has moved since this post, and the décor is very warm and charmingly Portuguese.


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  1. A truly Herculean effort, Krys. But half a million Portuguese in the Bay Area? I'm guessing you are off by a factor of 5 or so on that.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Gary Soup

      I don't think I kept up with all your postings. Did you happen to find places that served a dish called Piri-Piri Chicken (a.k.a. African Chicken?) I found this dish for the first time at, all places, the Metrotown Shopping Mall food court in suburban Vancouver, and loved it. Too bad I didn't know about it on a couple of visits to Macau.

      1. re: Gary Soup
        Krys Stanley

        La Salette in Sonoma has Piri Piri chicken in addition to bottles of piri piri sauce on the table.

        I tasted a few drops of the sauce which is quite fiery. So I was a little hesitant ordering the piri piri crepe with eggs and bacon. In that dish they just used a touch in the sauce that gave in a salmon color.

        Here are the two piri piri dishes you can order at La Salette:

        MOZAMBIQUE PRAWNS, pan roasted in Piri- Piri, with coconut rice and tomato-peanut sauce

        PIRI-PIRI CHICKEN, baked range chicken breast served with spicy Piri-Piri sauce and yam puree



        1. re: Krys Stanley

          You can also order a Piri-Piri sauce from Zingerman's ( at least you could a few months ago...

          1. re: wlw18
            Krys Stanley

            All the Bay Area Portuguese markets listed and most of the bakeries carry piri piri sauce as well.

    2. k
      Krys Stanley

      Sousa's sells Fernandes Sao Jorge Linguica in addition to a number of other dairy, cheeses, fish and Portuguese groceries. They sell Brazillian food items as well.

      This is primarily a liquor store with a large selection of Portuguese and Brazilian wines. The article linked below is about Sousa's. No relationship to the SJ restaurant.

      In terms of groceries, cheese and meats, Mayolo’s Trade Rite Market, San Jose has the larger more comprehensive selection. In terms of wine, they both have large, but slightly different selections.

      The article below says there are between 70 and 80 Portuguese wines, hand picked by the owner. There are about 20 different ports as well as " pineapple liqueur and Anis Escarchad, a sweet licorice liqueur with glistening branches of crystallized sugar."


      1. I just wanted to make a correction on your posting for bakeries. Hiser Bakery is located in Hayward, not Santa Clara.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Connie

          So right. Thanks for catching that. Have you tried Hiser? If so, what do you like... or don't like?

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. I like Sousas and usually drop by when I’m in the area. One of the best dishes is the skirt steak with a fried egg on top and a pile of French fries on the side (Bife a Portuguesa).

            After ordering this, it was hard for me to order anything else off the menu. The meat is marinated in olive oil, wine, garlic and, perhaps paprika Then it is fried. The egg is cooked in the pan juices and placed on top. The reduced pan juices surround the meat.

            Portuguese people who ate at the restaurant kept telling me to order this. It is a favorite for good reason.

            I'm not a steak expert, so the cut might be different. It seemed like skirt steak to me.

            They also make a nice fresh lemonade. Caldo Verde is a nice potato based kale soup with a few slices of liquisa.

            The shrimp scampi were in a wine based butter sauce and very tender. I’ve found Sousa’s does a good job with seafood. Next time I’m going to get the steamed clams.

            Last Sunday, fighting the temptation to get the steak and eggs I tried the Alcatra Regional – Portuguese Pot Roast With Wine, Bacon & Garlic. It came with two boiled potatoes and some delicious rice. The dish suffered a bit from being reheated, but not quite enough. I prefer the beef stew they serve at their Tuesday and Friday lunch buffet which has a hint of allspice. The pot roast was still a nice homey dish.

            On Sunday's Mrs. Sousa waits the tables herself.

            My favoirtes to date are the steak and eggs, lunch buffet and the Malatov for dessert ... and that lemonade.