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I am writing this because I promised the woman who presides over this place I would. A few weeks ago according to my Portuguese sources, she asked about it and so if I thought if I ever wanted to go back again I had better do it, so I did!

There is a special restaurant I would like to tell you about in Matosinhos, Porto, near the water and the fish market. On this street with the beaches a stone's throw away restaurant after fish restaurant greets you but this is my place to go…

I have fond memories here of both eating outside at tables in the street and inside where a warm family welcomes you like you are an honoured guest.

This is a discreet place where fetes a fetes are arranged and businessmen may come with their mistresses and the owners know not to say "How good it is to see you again " in case the woman in question is indeed a wife. If you are gay it is no problem because food & hospitality is the thing.

Discretion is a virtue here and the good woman and her husband who mans the grill outside are a jovial lot and the woman speaks perfect English and her mother makes the desserts. I shared a wonderful conversation with her as I questioned her about the Jews who lived here from the time of the Inquisition.

She was erudite on the subject and gave me some great insight into Portuguese history. History and food ………….. some of my favourite subjects.

Let us get down to the food. Here one can eat inexpensively and very well indeed as copious amounts of food pour off the grill and from the kitchen. Here it is mainly about the seafood but they also have grilled meats but it is the seafood that interests me. After all, this is Portugal and we are near the Atlantic Ocean and the Douro River.

I had my eye on grilled sardines and not the kind you find in tin cans back home packed in oil. These were large, sweet-tasting, plump and were grilled outside on a brazier and doused with olive oil and were so good.

A full portion is 12 and it is advisable to order half that. As I write I can still smell the air of the ocean and the aroma of those sardines charring nicely on the fire.

When you order the sardines or dorado (gilthead sea bream) they do a fine job of grilling it.

The fish is served with garlic potatoes cooked with their skins so don't bother ordering additional salads because it will be too much food.

A salad of tomatoes, grilled peppers, onions and olives are good as is the calamari as a starter.

This is a place where you take two hours to eat and quaff down a beer or a perfect Vinho Verde. Finish with homemade grappa, normally, on the house and share some of the famous port afterwards.

Everything I have had here is fantastic and the desserts from Mama will leave you happy, especially a type of crème brûlée.

I love this place for its food, its friendliness and its unpretentious family style.

This is a true Portuguese restaurant and one may call it a home away from home.

If I lived in Porto I would be there every week exploring their menu. This is what good Portuguese food is all about. Simple, honest, down to earth and fresh.

Words © Jonathon Lipsin.


Rua Herois de Franca 329, Matosinhos, 4450-158, Portugal.

+351 22 937 5902

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The reviews here are personal recommendations of places we have actually been to.

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