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Porto, Portugal

Page 7
Continued from page 6

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ABOVE: Porto's riverfront restaurants in the early evening.

Restaurants in Porto

Northern Portugal's cuisine is hearty, filling, and surprisingly varied. Porto has its own specialties, most notably tripas á moda do Porto, or Porto-style tripe. (Porto residents are known among their countrymen as tripeiros, or "tripe eaters," so don't eat anything unlabeled if natural sausage casings make you queasy.)

photoFish is also an important part of the Porto diet, and bacalhau--salt cod--is served in countless forms. (The bolinhos de bacalhau or cod cakes in the inset photo are just one example.) You'll see bacalhau in local markets, where it resembles large slabs of cardboard. The dried cod is rehydrated in water for a day or so, then rinsed to remove the salt before cooking. (If your cod is too salty, don't be afraid to send it back.)

photoA few tips on restaurant dining in Porto:

  • Dinner normally isn't served until 7 or 8 p.m., so don't dine on a Scandinavian schedule unless you want to eat alone. If you intend to pay by credit or debit card, make sure the restaurant accepts plastic.

  • The ementa turística (tourist menu) is a good all-inclusive deal when offered, although your choices will be limited.

  • The waiter may set plates of appetizers on the table at the beginning of the meal. If you don't want them, decline them politely; you'll pay for whatever you eat. (This isn't a scam--it's Portuguese tradition.)

  • Don't ask for tap water, unless you want to be taken for a foreign skinflint. The locals order bottled water; so should you if you have a craving for água.

  • Order dessert, or--better yet--try Portugal's mouthwatering pastries in a café or tearoom.

  • If the bill doesn't indicate a service charge, tip at least 10 percent.

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