Porto is a gorgeous city – historical buildings, beautiful scenery on both sides of the river. But one really does have a limited ability to stay outdoors and stare at pretty things when it rains (even hails) all day! Luckily, there are more than plenty of food places around.
Tapabento (March 2017)
Address: Rua da Madeira, nº 222, Porto
Hours: Closed Mondays.
Price range: Came out to around ~20-30 euros a person including a LOT of food and sangria. A la carte menu list here (no prices)
Reservations: Tapabento website contains an email. If you walk in early enough during meal times you could probably get a table as well!
The restaurant is located next to the beautiful Sao Bento train station (seriously USA, take a leaf out of Portugal’s design capabilities). Although the restaurant is tucked in a small street, the inside is a burst of warmth. With two floors, there is plenty of seating – but it fills up quickly. A floral patterned cloth covers each table, topped with simple white tableware.
We started off with a hot fish soup to counter the freezing cold rain outside and mushroom medley plate. My friends were initially pretty skeptical. “You ordered a mushroom dish??” However, they all quickly changed their tune – it won everyone over. I really should have taken notes on the flavor and herbs so I can replicate it at home.
We then followed with a seafood rice and razor clam dish. The interesting part about Portuguese dishes is that they look so simple, but there’s always an insane amount of flavor. Halfway through our entrees, we spotted a delicious plate of sea bass being delivered to neighbors. After a very quick discussion of successive nods, we waved over the very nice waitress and placed an order.
Such a good decision! Crunchy garlic / onions on top, with a green vegetable puree on the bottom. Yum.
One cannot have a proper lunch without sangria and dessert. We had a red sangria with the rest of our meal, and couldn’t decide on one dessert. So we had two!
If you ever find yourself strolling through the Sao Bento railway station to check out the famous tiles, definitely add Tapabento to the list. No excuses, it’s less than 500 meters away! Yes, it seems to serve many tourists (largely thanks to its Tripadvisor ranking), but that does not detract from the quality of food in any way!