Tuesday, April 02, 2013

An evening stroll on Liberdade Square and my first seafood dinner in Porto

In Porto, I have eaten in a cheap restaurant, an average restaurant, a touristy restaurant and a Michelin starred restaurant. Quite a variety, which is just the way I like it.

Safety First!

On my first night I chose to go to the ‘O Marinheiro Restaurant’ (Marinheiro Almocos e Jantares) very near the Liberdade Square - Aliados Avenue. I actually researched online in advance for restaurants nearby my hotel and found 2 strong contenders, the Book Restaurant and the O Marinheiro Restaurant.

As it is my first night in the city, my first rule in travelling is always—SAFETY FIRST. I normally don’t venture far off from my hotel until I have found my bearings by usually getting acquainted with the surroundings during the day. And because my flight arrived 2 hours later than expected due to a technical failure delay, it was already about 10PM when I was out on the streets looking for any of the 2 restaurants I had in mind.

Liberdade Square and the Avenidas dos Aliados

I thought—whichever restaurant I will find first, I will take it! I found the Marinheiro Restaurant first after a stroll on the Liberdade Square flanked by the Avenidas dos Aliados.

The Liberdade Square and the Avenidas dos Aliados are the grandest and most opulent square and avenue in Porto, but as you meander along the narrow alleys and hilly streets surrounding this striking square, you will then realise that it has very little to do with the architecture that Porto is known for. In fact this square and avenue reminds me more of Lisbon.

O Marinheiro Restaurant in Porto

True to the reviews I have read online, the O Marinheiro Restaurant (located just across Hotel Infante Sagres) accurately radiates a very homespun Portuguese ambiance. I noticed that many diners were locals from town. Some were regulars engaging in a friendly banter with the waitresses.

The food was another surprise. It was quite good with a home-grown touch. And the service was fast! The waitresses and waiter were busy floating from table to table taking orders, delivering food and making sure each guest was attended.

On top of that, when my bill came, I could not believe how insanely cheap it was. I paid a total of €15 which already includes the 10% tip. This was my cheapest meal ever in Porto. I truly did not expect it! Good start of the trip because I finished my Porto holiday with the most expensive meal haha.

I had a half a liter local dry white wine from the region and they have sardines pate here! Pate de Sardinha.

I ordered the grilled squid and shrimps. 

Espresso to finish my dinner and the table beside me which was a group of locals was celebrating a birthday. They requested the lights to be turned off when they lighted the cake and sang the obligated birthday song.

The restaurant is in the night spot area and as you can see young people begin to gather outside.

Just like the Spaniards, the Portuguese eat dinner very late. Restaurants open their doors in the evening at 8PM but many people reserve a table at 9PM or 10PM. As you can see, I was just on the right time when I strolled in at 10:30PM!

Again, Safety First!

It was past midnight when I strolled back to my hotel which fortunately is just around the block. This is the main reason why I chose this restaurant in the first place.

Ladies, if you are travelling alone, and especially at nights, remember safety first!

Travel Period: March 2013
Destination: Porto (Grande Porto), Portugal

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