For our last dinner in Porto we decided to eat at Cantinho do Avillez, the more casual and relaxed restaurant of Chef José Avillez. Chef José Avillez is the most famous chef in Portugal and is most famous for his restaurant Belcanto, currently ranked #75 best restaurant in the world. Whereas Belcanto is pure Portuguese cooking, Cantinho do Avillez is Portuguese with inspiration from trips abroad. The cherry gazpacho and green bean tempura were the best!
For our last evening in Porto, we ventured out to the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal to watch the sunset on the Douro River. The gardens are so beautiful and worth spending a couple of hours walking around and exploring.
On our last day in Porto we decided to take a walk through the historic downtown area. The city is not too big and perfect for strolling – given you don’t mind steps and inclines! It’s a shame we didn’t have better weather, but the clouds didn’t take away from the beauty and charm of the city.
Like any Harry Potter fan, if you’re in Porto, you have to visit Livraria Lello. J.K. Rowling lived in Porto teaching English from 1991 to 1993 and was a frequent customer and many say it was a direct inspiration for the books (which when you see below if evident). Livraria Lello is not only one of the world’s oldest bookstores (opened in 1906), but frequently ranks as one of the most beautiful.
Koen and I love gastronomic tourism – you really are able to get a sense of the city and culture by eating the food. While in Porto, we couldn’t pass up the chance to eat at The Yeatman, one of only two 2 star Michelin restaurants in Portugal (the other being Belcanto in Lisbon). Most notable is the wine cellar at The Yeatman. Maybe the name sounds familiar if you’ve been reading my posts – it comes from the port house Taylor, Fladgate, & Yeatman, more commonly just called Taylor’s Port.
One of our must-do’s while in Porto was taking a trip to the Douro Valley. You have many options for getting there – renting a car, taking part in a tour that begins in Porto, or taking the train. If you know Koen and me, we love taking the train (hence the Trans-Siberian Express vacation we took two years ago from Moscow and ending in Beijing). So any opportunity for a long train ride – we’re in! Plus that means no one has to drive and we’re both able to enjoy the tasting.
The Majestic Café dates back to 1921 and still exudes a Belle Epoque-era ornate interior featuring carved wood, mirrors & chandeliers. The Majestic was a recommendation by someone we know from Porto, an old, beautiful café with a lot of history. I particulary liked the idea that JK Rowling spent a lot of time here writing the first Harry Potter book!
The famous francesinha sandwich from Porto. There’s a saying that to be a good resident of Porto, you must eat two francesinhas a day. Francesinha, or Little Frenchie, is a crazy meat-heavy sandwich made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça (Portuguese smoke cured sausage), fresh sausage like chipolata, steak, and then covered with melted cheese, topped with a fried egg surrounded by a thick tomato and beer sauce. Daniel da Silva invented the sandwich after having lived in France and Belgium. When he returned to Porto, da Silva adapted the croque-monsieur to the Portuguese taste.
Koen and I decided beforehand that we needed to visit at least two port lodges, so after some research we made reservations at Graham’s for a tour and tasting (visits are reservation only) in addition to Taylor’s. Grahams is smaller and a bit further away, but worth it! The tour is smaller and more intimate, and the tasting is great value for what you pay. We decided on the Super Premium Tawny Tasting and the Super Premium Vintage Port Tasting – which means we were able to sit in the Vintage Room for our tasting.
When we decided to visit Porto, Portugal, one of the first things I looked into were visits to the port houses! I love a glass of tawny port after dinner with some cheese and was interesting in learning (and tasting!) more.
One of the largest and oldest of the founding port wine houses is Taylor, Fladgate, & Yeatman – more commonly known as Taylor’s – founded in 1692. This was recommended to me by a client who had just been to Porto. So we made a reservation for the tour and lunch at their restaurant Barão Fladgate.