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May 30, 2011 08:20 PM

Lisbon and Porto

I'm from the Toronto, Canada board and we're planning a trip to Spain/Portugal, landing in Barcelona and driving west into Lisbon and then up to Porto 2 nights each in early Sep. I'll post a Spain question later but looking for restaurant recommendations for both of these wonderful Portuguese cities. Looking for must try, can't miss recommendations that exemplify local cuisine. Thanks in advance!

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    1. Here's my report from last summer. Loved loved loved Portugal - all of it. You'll have a great trip.

      1. @ syoung

        I live here in Lisbon, so after searching the archives let me know if you have questions and I will be happy to help.


        8 Replies
        1. re: vinhotinto75

          Thanks vinhotinto75. Hope you know Porto as well... we've narrowed to the following for Porto for now:

          O Paparico
          Bull & Bear
          Foz Velha

          Are these good? Any others you recommend? For time being, we're thinking of going directly to Porto and skipping Lisbon this trip. Trip is in Sep so still in plannig stage.

          1. re: syoung

            Consider Pedro Lemos in Porto. We had a really lovely meal there.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Thanks Nyleve, we'll try for a reservation at Pedro Lemos. Any other suggestions, especially of local favorites or comment on one of the 3 above I found?

              1. re: syoung

                Don't know anything about any of the other restos. But we spent a few nights in Porto and I have to say it was truly a highlight of our trip. At Pedro Lemos we had a tasting menu with wine pairings - our server looked like Mr. Bean so we remember it as the Mr. Bean dinner - it was fantastic. Also in Porto, we hopped a few of the Port wine houses and absolutely loved the experience. Calem had an awesome tour with tasting - I still have a soft spot for Calem port when I see it. I don't know how great a port winery it is but we loved every second of it.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Yeah, we're thinking the same thing and have decided to forgo Lisbon and staying longer in Porto and probably do a day trip of the Douro river. I'm a bit of a wine geek and thus it's Porto over Lisbon and visiting a few Quintas. I've had 1996 Calem Vintage Port and it was OK. I'd like to visit Taylor's and a few of the Symington Family port houses. Please let me know if there are any wine houses you visited that's a can't miss.

                  1. re: syoung

                    The truth is that I'm not knowledgeable enough about wine to give you recommendations that would be based on anything but our own eccentric experiences (often based on things that have little to do with the wines themselves). But we did visit Taylor in Porto and, if nothing else, it's in a beautiful location overlooking the river, with lovely gardens. The ports we tasted were delicious but I can't remember which ones they were. We stayed away from Sandeman because it was so crowded and because the tour guide was wearing a costume. I suggest you make a list of houses you want to visit and just methodically hit as many as you can. They're all close together and walkable.

                    We also spent a few days up the Douro at a stunning estate. It was a very weird old winery owned by a Spanish widow. The food was odd but the location was awesome. Took a drive up to Pinhao one day and visited, among other places, Fonseca - gorgeous spot, excellent (free) tour of the vineyard and tasting. Really an unforgettable trip altogether.

                    1. re: Nyleve

                      Thanks Nyleve, this is helpful! Intend to visit Finseca as well. Did you have to book the tastings with each winery in advance or did you just walk in?

                      1. re: syoung

                        None of the wineries we visited required any sort of pre-booking. All the port lodges in Porto (Gaia) were open and running tours all day. Some - I believe - may be closed on Sundays so you should be aware of that. But the rest seem to be happy to see whoever walks in the door. Calem charged a nominal fee for the very good tour and tasting, Taylor didn't charge anything for the tasting but we showed up late in the day. Other houses charged a small amount for individual pours of various ports according to whether they were vintage or whatever. In Porto, the port lodges are all within easy walking distance of one another so you can just start at one end and keep going until you get tired.

        2. LISBON:

          Cool Experiences:

          Solar do Vinho Porto – Barrio Alto - The port wine institute. You sit on large sofas and order tastings of port from their extensive port menu – by the glass prices start at .90 Euro and they sell every single bottle to buy and take home

          Shopping on Rue Do Carmo - Barrio Alto - (Don’t miss Lluvaria Ulysses– for a pair of custom fitted gloves.)

          Coffee at Brasileira Café – famous for their coffee and interesting pastries- Biaxa/Chiado Metro stop

          Wine tasting at Sala Ogival -Terreiro do Paço- 1100-148 Lisboa. You walk in and you fill out a form and choose from 25 bottles of wine to taste and rate.
          In exchange for the ratings and input, the wine tastings are free.

          Food/wine shopping at El Cortes ingles - the store is literally IN the Sao Sebastio ,metro station. They have a wonderful supermarket and also a specialty food/wine shop

          Shopping on Avienda da Liberdade – the main drag (Louis Vuitton, Prada, etc)

          The view from Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara - a garden with a panoramic view across the city to St. George's Castle and central Lisbon. Take the Yellow tram up from Av Liberdade to get here.

          Restaurants we loved:

          Pap Acorda –Barrio Alto - one of the best known hot spots for traditional Portugese ingredients in a unique/funky setting

          Doca a Piexe. or Doca6 – Docas (take a cab) - in an area call the “Docas” – which are a recently built line of about 10 restaurants under the red “vasco De Gama” bridge, all with outdoor seating- but these two are the best. They serve Seafood (good for lunch after spending the morning in Belem)

          Mezza Luna –Metro Marques de Pombal - fantastic trendy Italian food and it is owned by a man from Long Island.

          Bonjardim - Metro Restauradores - very casual- good for lunch - Best roasted chicken on the planet.

          Sinal Vermelho – Barrio Alto - Traditional Portugese food in a trendy/eclectic atmosphere

          Lisboa A Noite – Barrio Alto - Portugese fare- traditional yet hip

          Sacramento- Barrio Alto - chic and open space- cool décor and great food

          Notable Bars:

          Ritz Four Seasons–have a glass of wine or cocktail at their gorgeous bar (they allow cigar smoking)

          Solar do Vinho Porto – The port wine bar I mentioned above

          Pavilhao Chines- Chinese pavilion bar. Very kitchy bar with table games. Fun after a dinner out. Great inventive cocktails. You have to knock to get in.

          Barrio Alto Hotel - great hotel/location and fantastic drink selection

          1 Reply
          1. re: missmar79

            What a great list! My wife and I are heading to Lisbon in a couple of days where we will spend two days before driving down to the Algarve. Just trying to decide WHICH places to visit in our short stay.....

          2. syoung: We were in Porto about 3 years ago. We had a great time going to different bars that advertised serving assorted ports. We got our information from a few guide books and off the web and we were amazed with the vast amount of information we gleamed from these tastings. You are in for a real treat!

            6 Replies
            1. re: Deborah

              Thanks Deborah! Yes, we intend to do some bar hopping and have been reviewing both paper and web guide books/sites. Any suggestions of what to do in Porto? We're planning a Douro river day cruise and will probably be driving around the area to places such as Viseu, Braga, Guimarães and Vila Real. Any suggestions food/wine or anything else that's a can't miss in around Porto would be much appreciated!

              1. re: syoung

                There is a steam train running up river from Regua to Tua via Pinhão, so close to the Douro you feel you can touch the water. I took it a few years ago (some of the Port Quintas have their own mini-station, they just flag the train). Found a nice report on

                1. re: monchique

                  Thanks monchique! The steam train sounds like a good idea... so much to do and so little time. We're thinking of a day cruise on the Douro river so if anyone has any suggestions on what or where to book, please do chime in and we'd be very greatful!

                    1. re: monchique

                      Monchique/ Vinhotinto - I have read all the posts on Lisbon dating back to 2010. Can you advise please whether Tavares and Eleven is worth a visit even if it is for lunch? I understand the Eleven dropped out of the Michelin guide based on a post from Monchique. Thank you

                      1. re: blownd

                        Tavares still holds its Michelin star, but the chef who obtained it has left... They have a 35 Euros menu for lunch which I understand is correct for the price and the restaurant itself is worth looking at for its Maxim's mirrors.
                        I did not much liked the arrogant service and inept sommelier at Eleven when I last went 2 years ago, but am told the attitude of the staff has slightly improved since. And the view over Lisbon is nice ...
                        Have you considered Tagide? . Classic Portuguese cuisine in very civilised surroundings.