In my opinion, one of the best ways to get to know a city is to try out all the local watering holes. Between Porto and Lisbon, I was able to test out a fair number of restaurants and bars and compiled a list of my favorites.
Tasco landed at the top of nearly every list of recommendation lists we received for Porto- and you know what, it was number one for a reason. With only nine tables in the whole restaurant, we got exceptionally lucky to be able to accommodated when we showed up last minute- but I would definitely make a reservation to guarantee space.
The service here was truly exceptional- the waitstaff are super friendly and the food was incredible! Though the menu claims that the dishes are tapas, I did find them to be larger than anticipated- we couldn’t even finish our side dishes! I particularly enjoyed their drinks menu which was both creative and delightfully funny. Don’t worry- if you can’t choose a drink, their bartender will make you a custom drink based on your vibes alone (it’s called the Slot Machine).
Just a few blocks away from Tasco, the Royal Cocktail Club was another one of my favorite spots in this city! This bar was intimate and sophisticated with an extensive drinks menu served with an artistic flair. It was a little pricey for Porto, but the second our bartender started pulling out the fancy garnishes and the pipettes, I realized that the presentation of the drink was part of the price.
Cervejaria Gazela, or as we kept calling it- the “Anthony Bourdain Bar” due to it’s feature in Parts Unknown- was a super friendly snack bar we swung into just for the experience. We arrived just a few minutes before the kitchen closed, and we shared one of their famous hot dogs- panini pressed, slathered in cheese and hot sauce, and cut into bite sized pieces. It was a total greasy delight after a night out.
This tiny restaurant is located just a block away from the Porto Cathedral and we would have missed it entirely if not for a recommendation from our city tour guide! There are only a few seats, and it was pretty full, but we took advantage of what would turn out to be our last bit of sunshine on the trip to sit outside for our drinks. We were specifically instructed to get the more expensive of the two port tonics (still only 8 Euros) and we were delighted when our drinks were brought out with a collection of supplies including several spices and a blow torch. Drinks and a show! The drinks were just as tasty as it looked and was probably my favorite cocktail of the whole trip.
We probably went to a dozen wine bars over the course of our trip and this little wine shop- in the middle of the steepest alley way I’ve ever climbed- was probably my favorite. We got a wine tasting, though port was also available, and the generous pours and inexpensive price point along with the excellent service quickly made it a favorite experience!
The Digby gets bonus points for being located in our hotel! Beyond that, it’s a beautiful glass-walled restaurant with an overview of the Douro River and delicious food. The interior lounge area was covered with a stunning amount of flowers for prime photo opportunities. There was a pretty wide selection of modern food. I got a vegan meal while my friend got octopus- served with tentacle suckers and all!
This wine bar was recommended to us as having one of the best selections of wine in town and it didn’t disappoint. Portugal is known for its green wine, but Prova is where I tried orange wine for the first time! Ask for suggestions from the waitstaff- they’ll find your new favorite wine with an ease that implies that they’re reading your mind.