João Matos is the charismatic local guide who’ll be shepherding us gays around Portugal on our upcoming Lisbon & Porto Gourmet Foray. We grill João on his five favourite Porto restaurants below. Dig in!
5. Rib Beef & Wine is carving out a place for itself in Porto’s restaurant scene
To the uninitiated, Portugal’s culinary landscape may seem all scales and gills. But look past the coastal country’s fishy exterior and you’ll find a carnivorous culture with a love of loins, flanks and shanks.
Under the talented eye of chef Rui Martins, Rib Beef & Wine is the perfect place to savour said meaty meals. His menu is deceivingly simple, highlighting the umami notes of its locally sourced ingredients. Beef carpaccio is thinly sliced and as red as a glass of malbec. Perfectly seasoned beef tartar is served elegantly with matchstick fries and a rich, golden yolk. Mains are generous, well seasoned and grilled as per your preference – bonus, all entrées are finished with a fried egg.
Beyond the beef, a gorgeous interior and extraordinary cocktail menu set this restaurant briskets above the competition. In João’s own words, “This relaxing Porto restaurant is perfect to enjoy good food and a nice chat.”
Rib Beef & Wine
Praça da Ribeira nº 1
+351 966 273 822
4. Traditional Portuguese cuisine served on the banks of the Douro
Located right on the Douro River, Chez Lapin caters to tourists seeking a taste of Portugual as it once was. The family-run establishment celebrates their country and culture without ever breaking the wheel. So much so, that even the relaxed service and kitschy design feel like an homage to the land of custard tarts and Cristiano Ronaldo.
João recommends pulling up a chair on the terrace and ordering the bacalhau à lagareiro (cod and potatoes) and the sardines with rice and beans. And after you’ve soaked up both the scenery and port sauce, ask the friendly staff about their private river excursions aboard six traditional boats docked at the quay. A perfect excursion to end a perfect meal.
R. dos Canastreiros 40-42, 4050-149
+351 22 200 6418
3. Savour steak… and other hunks of meat
At MUU Steakhouse, your mouth will water as soon as you crack the reclaimed wood door. The scent of uncorked vinho verde fights with the burning wood grill and dry aged steaks. The dark tables, moody lighting and brick walls round out the experience.
Beyond the atmosphere, the real star of the show is the meat. Ribeyes are big enough to share, seared flatirons come with choice sides while blackened Angus steaks are aged 60 days before kissing the grill.
“And while it is the undisputed champion of grilled beef in Porto, it’s also vegetarian-friendly, vegan-friendly and gluten-free friendly!”, exclaims João who has patronized MUU Steakhouse with travellers on multiple occasions. “Everyone just loves it.”
Rua do Almada 149A
914 784 032
2. Dine at Porto’s best wine bar
Prepare for the most breath-taking view of Porto, warned João who couldn’t talk up this wine cellar-turned-restaurant enough.
Located inside Graham’s Lodge – Porto’s premier purveyor of fine port – this bright restaurant is adorned with fresh cut flowers and modern touches. If you’re sitting inside, a thin glass wall offers a view of the cellar. Meanwhile, the terrace offers the exact view of Porto’s historic city centre João gushed about.
Regarding the menu, we recommend sticking to the aquatic fare. Gorgeously golden fried calamari with lemon to start. Sesame crusted tuna with Azorean salsa to share. Or grilled octopus served on traditional Portuguese rice for an entrée. If you’re feeling particularly peckish, the five-course degustation with wine pairings is an exceptional experience that’ll leave you rolling back to your hotel.
Finally, it’s worth noting Vinum is more than willing to work around most dietary restrictions.
Vinum Restaurant & Wine Bar
Rua do Agro 141
+351 22 093 0417
1. Authentic Portuguese with a modern twist
Our appetite stirred, our mind on wine, we ask João what restaurant is a must-try in Porto…
“Barão Fladgate.” he states matter of fact.
Like Vinum above, this cellar-turned-restaurant oozes charm and has incredible Douro vantages. But it’s the modern take on authentic Portuguese cuisine that make it a standout. Staples such as the cod with black bean puree, rump steak, bacon and Bísaro pork sausage are always on the menu. Meanwhile daily seafood, meat and vegetarian specials showcase the team’s ingenuity.
Dinner at Barão will be a highlight of your visit.
Rua Choupelo 250
+351 223 772 951
All photos courtesy of Rib Beef & Wine, Chez Lapin, Muu Steakhouse, Vinum Restaurant and Barão Fladgate.