What are the best places to eat and drink in Porto?
Can there be a better way to know a city, its people, and its culture, than through a culinary food tour? We met Marlene of Bluedragon Tours at the C'alma Specialty Coffee Room at Rua de Passos Manuel shortly before 10:00 am. Almost fresh from graduating from college at 22 years old, Marlene was bright-eyed, friendly, engaging, and passionate about people and places. I'm not sure if there is anyone better than Marlene to show us the watering holes to find the best local cuisine. She was simply perfect, the best person to guide anyone who knows very little about Porto.
The first stop was the meeting place, C'alma coffee room, where we had Colombian coffee and pastel de nata, the perfect way to start a weary traveler's day.
The next stop was the busiest commercial street in Porto called Rua Sta. Catarina. At Confeitaria Império, we were served the local pasteis de bacalhau and vinho verde (green white wine). These are made from green grapes that have not reached maturity. This worked so well with our codfish cakes. As they say in Portuguese, "Saúde!!"
And where do the locals go after a hard day’s work to enjoy spicy bifanas? At Sol e Sombra, only the brave will add their local chili sauce to heat your taste buds further. I am not a beer-drinker but is Super Bock outstanding, or does the bifana pairing make it an excellent booze of choice?
For another authentic Portuguese charcuterie experience, Quejaria Amaral served their in-house sheep cheese, goat cheese, smoky chorizo, and prosciutto with pumpkin jam. Paired with Gravuras do Côa, this deserves another toast to life!!
Finally, our last stop was the newly re-opened Mercado do Bolhão, a must-see public market in the city center where you'll find fresh fish, meat, fruits, veggies, and flowers, not to mention a sampling of the famous liquor Porto is known for, port wines. Francesco was kind enough to explain how these sweet liquors are made and the different kinds to choose from: ruby, tawny, white, rosé, or vintage.
I returned to our apartment with a smile, and despite being slightly intoxicated, we were delighted with our authentic Portuguese experience. Thank you, Marlene, for showing us around:)