Budget travelers, take note: In Portugal, you can eat well and abundantly on the cheap.
During our scouting trip this week, we enjoyed many fine, fancy dinners, trying out spots where we’ll take our clients during our Passion for Port touron September 6-11. But since this was a scouting trip, we mostly conducted ourselves like budget travelers, staying in humble boarding houses and eating in modest eateries alongside the locals.
And boy, does your money go far. Take this meal in Porto, enjoyed at a nondescript restaurant on Via Boavista, a commercial drag just outside the historic center.
It was the grill that first caught Claudio’s eye. Just behind the restaurant’s plate-glass window, a cook basted butterflied chickens sizzling over a flame grill. Inside, several mothers, policemen, and workers waited at the counter for carryout orders. That seemed a good sign, so we went in and settled down at one of the half-dozen tables.
Here’s what we got:
- Two large bowls of bean soup, a velvety concoction loaded with winter vegetables. This appears on virtually every menu, and we’ve ordered it a lot, given the cold, rainy weather. We’ve grown quite fond of it, and this was a particularly good version.
- Sausage. We never learned what type they served here, but there’s plenty of this homemade saliccia in Portugal that can rival anything from Spain or Italy. Delicious.
- Grilled chicken. That chicken on the grill was now chopped into big chunks, with meat as tender as it comes and skin perfectly succulent with spicy basting juices. Flanking this huge pile of meat were two larger mountains of steaming hot French fries. (Portuguese entrees are almost universally accompanied by potatoes of some kind.)
- A bottle of house red, in this case, a decent, rustic red blend from the region
- A liter of mineral water
Total bill: 20 euros (about $30)
Satisfaction level: priceless