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Sep 6, 2012 09:25 AM

North of Portugal outsid of Porto?

Anyone have any good sugestions for classic Portuguese cusine mainly outside of Porto (anything new on Porto is welcome too, but Porto is well covered). Aveiro (seafood?), Braga, Guimaraes, the Minho, Beiras? I'll be kicking around those areas in October and would welcome suggestions. I've had good Leitao in Bairrada and know about those places. Especially interested in places like O Valerio in Mangualde, which I really enjoyed on a previous visit.

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  1. Regret I don't know much about that area and will be looking forward to your report!
    For Braga, see this post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/859809
    I will ask some friends...

    1. Having consulted "the" expert, here is his answer, duly translated. Except for DOC (in the list because it's not to be missed), all are classic Portuguese He advises a GPS for some reason... At least I have the info for my next trip North. Hope it helps you. The order is by districts.

      Best shellfish is in Matosinhos (Porto) e.g. "Gaveto".

      Aveiro: look at "Costa Nova / Ilhavo" by the sea. Lots of restaurants there, speciality "Ensopado de Enguias" (eel stew). Not much in Aveiro itself.
      In the same district, "Pedro dos Leitões" in Mealhada for suckling pig and Espumante Bruto Tinto (red bubbly).

      Minho: Viana do Castelo: "O Conselheiro" in Paredes de Coura; "Quinta do Prazo" in Valença; "Camelo" in Portuzelo; "Casa d'Armas" in Viana do Castelo (centre)

      Minho: Braga (Guimarães): "O Arcoense" The Best! in the centre of Braga; "São Gião" one of the best in the North in Moreira de Conegos / Guimarães; "O Victor" (Bacalhau) in São João de Rei / Povoa de Lanhoso; "Ferrugem" in Portela / Vila Nova de Famalição; "O Tanoeiro" in the centre of Famalição; "Torres" in Lugar da Bouça / Vial Verde; "Pedrinhas" in Apulia / Esposende the best for fish (ask for the house speciality and plenty of entradinhas).

      Vila Real: "Cepa Torta" in Alijo; "Castas e Pratos" in Regua

      Viseu (Beiras): "DOC" between Regua and Pinhão, one of the tops, not to be missed; "O Cortiço" in the centre of town.

      Bragança (Tras-os-Montes): "Flor de Sal" in Mirandela; "O Artur" in Carviçais / Torre de Moncorvo (a long way from anywhere!)

      That's it from me, please report.

      4 Replies
      1. re: monchique


        Thanks for asking around. A couple of those places are already on my radar, like O Arcoense in Braga. And I have been to a few on that list in my past visit, e.g. O Victor for bacalhau (agree that it is good, but places like this are why your friend recommend GPS). Senhor Victor is a charming old guy who came out and showed me where to park my car! This looks like a very useful list which I will need to print out and consult as I drive around. I don't think I'll take GPS - maybe I enjoy being slightly lost in the Portuguese countryside (I do have maps...).

        I will be staying in Porto for several days and might use the regional trains to make excursions out to Braga, Aveiro, etc. Then I will probably stay for several days in the countryside outside of Ponte da Barca, but with car. I'm a wine lover and will be visiting several producers in these regions, so restaurants with interesting wine lists are a plus. Odd, but there are several very highly rated restaurants in Portugal with wine lists that could be a lot better (e.g. a majority of their wines appear to come from one of the big companies like Sogrape).

        Has anyone tried any of these places?

        Oficina do Garfo, Ovar
        Costa do Vez, Arcos de Valdevez
        Bem Haja - Nelas

        1. re: jmoryl

          Hi jmoryl,
          Apart from Port, I am not a great fan of Douro or Dão wines, having grown accustomed to the Alentejo and Algarve heavier taste!
          I think the wine list of a restaurant in Portugal depends more on the terms of credit the restaurant gets from suppliers than the actual search for quality... There are exceptions, of course, but most places operate of a very tight budget that does not allow for long term investment in either a decent selection or a decent cellar to keep it in.
          We are very fortunate in the Algarve to have places like Vila Vita and Vila Joya and in a different register Veneza in Paderne, all with extensive and well researched cellars.

          1. re: monchique

            I guess we have slightly different tastes in wine. Alentejo wines strike me as too "new-world" and ripe; I prefer leaner wines that exhibit more of a sense of place. Mind you, there are some superb Alentejo wines; Quinta do Mouro comes to mind. But when I go solo to one of Newark's (my area) many Portuguese restaurants their by the glass selection tends heavily to the Alentejo so I often wind up with something from Cartuxa or Esporao (e.g. Monte Vehlo).

            I love exploring all the crazy grapes you have in Portugal (e.g. Baga, and then made into a sparkling red!). And some regions like Dão and Bairrada have tons of unrealized potential.

            1. re: jmoryl

              Yes the New World under David Baverstock (as in Esporão) has actually rescucitated the wine production in the Alentejo, and now also in the Algarve (try a Barranco Longo Reserva if you can find it).
              Monte Velho is their entry wine, really "cheap amd cheerful", but Esporao also produces some really great wines; And so does the Adega Cooperativa de Borba (their premium range and also their single grapes are impressing).
              But the "Douro Boys" are also influenced by the New World, so...

      2. Best meal I had in Portugal was in Guimaraes last week at Historico restraurant (in the center). I ate lunch there, a delicious and filling dish of pork cheeks and chestnuts, accompanied by chard and potatoes mashed with garlic to a fine cream.

        I may be eating lunch tomorrow in Braga, and will report back if I learn anything helpful.

        2 Replies
        1. re: barberinibee

          Duly noted. Guimares may be on my itenerary. Thanks.
          Eager to hear what you find in Braga.

          1. re: jmoryl

            Sorry I can't be helpful about Braga. I pulled into town running late, turned the wrong way down a one-way street, found myself braking just short of a head-on collision with a police car, and was grateful the cops only backed me down the hill and let me pull into the first available parking without ticketing me! Since I was running out of lunch hour, I ducked into the first available place still serving lunch, and my husband and I ordered what was still available of the plates of the day -- one liver and onions and one fish stew. They were tastier than similar emergency meals I ate in Porto, and a bit cheaper, but not destination dining. Braga is obviously a town out to impress, so perhaps you can pick up recommendations from locals. If you have time to go cafe strolling, A Brasilieria in the p. de la Republica is what the one in Lisbon wishes it still was, and not far from there, a tiny 19th century bookstore called Bernard Cruz is now a very peaceful cafe with a knockout hard-carved ceiling. (It also served me the only good coffee I had in Portugal other than the Lavazza served at As Garzas near A Coruna).

            Guimaraes is, by the way, a European City of Culture this year, and they are pulling out the stops in a good-natured way.