As we were leaving Barcelona, getting in the cab to the airport, we were all pouting a little bit because we had so much fun in Spain and weren’t ready to give Portugal a shot. Little did we know that Porto would actually be the highlight of our trip. It all started when we got dropped off on the side of a cobblestone street. Four girls lugged four roller bags down the uneven road to the first restaurant we saw: éLeBê. éLeBê was a culinary masterpiece. Everything is made in house and will taste just divine as it looks. The menu is designed based on the different regions in Portugal with modern twists to classical dishes. Between the traditional broa de milho (bread made with cornmeal), the grilled octopus, and a glass of red wine that came from northern Portugal, we were already impressed with Porto.
After spending the day marveling as mosaic-tiled covered churches and being in utter awe of the picture perfect views around every single corner, we found ourselves stumbling upon an artisan sardine boutique. Apparently, sardines are beloved in Portugal and fun fact of the day: canned sardines contain 10x more calcium than fresh sardines. I’m not usually one to eat sardines at 10 am but who was I to turn down a free sardine tasting? When in Porto, right?
Enough with the sardine talk—it’s time for some real food. That night for dinner we went to Raiz. It was a romantic little spot, complete with candle light and local wines. We started our meal off the way all meals should start—with Portobello mushrooms stuffed with ratatouille and parmesan cheese. These little bursts of deliciousness came to the table bathed in a garlic butter that was born to be soaked up by the broa de milho. When it comes to food, Porto is killing the culinary game.
The next day, we spent along the riverfront. Here you’ll see vendors setting up tents selling everything from cork postcards and purses to ceramic sardines and hand painted mosaic tiles. As we looked over the Dom Luis bright we were sipping on glass of vinho verde or green wine which originates in the northern part of the country. It’s light, crisp, and just a touch bubbly. The Dom Luis bridge was built in 1886 and pays homage to the infamous Maria Pia Bridge that was erected in 1877 by Gustave Eiffel who also had a little something to do with the leaning tower of Pisa, I think? (Just jokes, obviously the Eiffel Tower in Paris)
Our last day should have been a somber one, as we all had fallen so deeply in love with Porto, but we spent it taking in the beauty of the Jardins do Palacio de Cristal. There were moss covered fountains, Roman-style busts, and peacock chicks roaming freely around the property. The garden itself was a little neglected, but I think that was one of the reasons it was so beautiful. It was imperfectly perfect—as was our trip to Portugal.