A colleague was going to Porto and I offered to provide some recommendations especially since I was recently there in summer. “Let me look at what I wrote on Evernote,” I said and started scrolling through a long list of remarks from my recent vacation. I soon realised that it was a little messy and told him that I’ll sieve through my notes and send him some tips.
Amongst the suggestions, here’s one that I’m particularly pleased to share: Matosinhos
There is an abundance of fresh and reasonably priced seafood in Portugal. When we were in Lisbon and Porto, we were recommended by the locals to go to neighbouring cities for good and cheap seafood. If you are in Porto, love seafood and don’t mind going out of the way for an authentic, low-key dining experience, go to the harbour district of Matosinhos.
Matosinhos is north of Porto. We took Metro A from the centre of Porto, in the direction of Senhor de Matosinhos, and alighted at the Brito Capelo stop. Follow the smell of barbecue smoke to Rua Heróis de França where you will find a row of restaurants, each with its own outdoor grill on the street.
Every restaurant is apparently good and you can’t go wrong here. Just don’t go on a Monday as the fishermen don’t work on Sunday which means that the available seafood on a Monday would not be as fresh as on other days.
After walking up and down the streets, we decided to eat at Restaurante Tito II @ 321 Rua Heróis França. I figured that it must be good based on the assumption that Restaurante Tito I, which was a few doors away, is its successful predecessor.
We had an entire sea bream with a huge serving of vegetables and potatoes as well as grilled squid. All that, together with half a bottle of vinho verde*, for less than 40 Euro. In Brussels, it would probably cost almost twice as much for something of comparable quality.
By the way, sardines in Portugal are different from what you would get in the rest of Europe. The ones caught off Portugual are fatter and more succulent. Every local whom we asked for seafood restaurant recommendations would gush about the Portuguese sardines (sardinhas in Portuguese). We had plenty of sardines in the previous days before our visit to Matosinhos and decided to try another fish, hence the sea bream.
After our hearty dinner, we decided to take a bus back to Porto. We took bus number 500 and were back in the city centre in a jiffy as there was little traffic in the evening.
It was easy getting to and from Matosinhos from Porto with several transportation options to choose from. I would love to return for another round of seafood feast when I am next back in Porto!
* Vinho verde literally means “green wine” in Portuguese. Available as red, white and rosé, it is slightly fizzy, refreshing and lower in alcohol content than regular wines. It is bottled soon after harvest and meant to be drunk young.
Even better than vinho verde – so we were told by a local in Porto and can now attest to this claim – is Alvarinho. Also known as Albariño across the border in Galicia, this is regarded as the premier white grape from the vinho verde-making region. It typically comes in brown bottles and is a little more expensive than its vinho verde ‘cousin’, but definitely worth a try.