When looking at Anthony Bourdain’s prolific television career, there are several destinations he visited multiple times that allow us to understand his personal and professional growth. Los Angeles – which he visited five times – is one. Vietnam, his favorite destination and where he filmed four episodes, is another. But if one destination was the “bookends,” so to speak, on his career, it would have to be Porto, Portugal.
Bourdain visited Porto twice: in season 1 of his first show A Cook’s Tour (2002), and Season 9 of his final show Parts Unknown (2017) – and not in between. That means these two episodes, set in the same seaside Portuguese city, show the most dramatic contrast between Tony’s early days as an intrepid traveler and basking in new celebrity and his later years with the gratitude and exhaustion that come from the life he led to that point.
Porto has long been one of the most-searched destinations here on Eat Like Bourdain; people really want to know where he ate. In this post, you’ll learn about all the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Porto – and most of them are still open and operational. Whether you’re planning a trip or just curious about visiting, this post can serve as a guide to Tony’s culinary journey through Porto and his whole career.
Where Anthony Bourdain ate in Porto
Before jumping into the list, I thought it would be helpful to have a map to orient you to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Porto. As you can see – most of the places are centrally located, on either side of the Douro River. Some are a bit further afield and may require a taxi or car rental, but are well worth it if you want to follow Anthony Bourdain’s footsteps in Porto, Portugal.
A Cook’s Tour (2001)
Porto is one of the first destinations that Anthony Bourdain visits during his television career, while filming Season 1 of his first show, A Cook’s Tour. This episode – and the show as a whole – has a very different feel than his later shows, and captures more of Tony’s innocence and wonder at the world in which he’s found himself traveling and eating as a career.
During his visit to Porto for A Cook’s Tour, Bourdain ate at the following places, along with José De Meirelles, his boss at the time at Les Halles restaurant in New York City, who hails from Portugal.
Casa Aleixo Restaurant (CLOSED)
Unfortunately, right off the bat I have to start with the one restaurant that’s no longer open: Casa Aleixo. At this Porto restaurant, Bourdain enjoyed a feast of seafood including boiled octopus vinaigrette salad, Bacalhau balls, octopus rice (the restaurant’s famous dish), along with prosciutto and sheeps milk cheese. Of course, he also enjoyed some local Port with his meal.
Confeitaria de Bolhão
Confeitaria de Bolhão is actually the first restaurant Tony visited – at least according to the way the episode was cut together. Here he was introduced to Bacalhau, Portuguese salt cod. This dish was the reason the Portuguese were able to explore so widely, as the well-preserved protein kept on long ocean sailings. It’s fitting that this is his first meal in Porto, since it’s a foundational fish for Portuguese culinary culture.
Quinta da Llama Restaurant
As part of his visit out to taste wine from Portugal’s famous Douro Valley (more on that below), Bourdain made a stop for food. This restaurant – also called “Restaurant da Llama” on Google – is built into an olive oil press and specializes in roasted kid goat in their earthen ovens. While waiting for that dish, Bourdain also enjoyed more Bacalhau, this time in the form of a cassarole with olives… fitting, given the scene in which he enjoyed this meal.
To reach Quinta da Llama / Restaurant da Llama, you’ll need to rent a car and make the TK minute drive from central Porto.
Rogério do Redondo Restaurant
If I had to recommend one place from Bourdain’s first visit to Porto, I think it would be Rogério do Rendondo. It’s here that Tony samples the unique flavors and dishes of Porto – which vary from those you might find elsewhere in Portugal, like Lisbon.
Here he enjoys sardines (a Portuguese favorite and not the salty cheap food you might imagine from North America); head of Merluza (fish head) with boiled potatoes, carrot, and onion; and “tripe a la mode” which is a local variation including tripe and beans, with hooves, knuckles, blood sausage, skin, ears, and tails. Tony – as someone who loves the messy bits – deeply enjoys the tripe and says it redefines his understanding of that particular dish.
Royal Oporto Vineyards (Douro Valley)
Finally, Bourdain rounds out his trip to Porto by exploring the region that makes the wine the city is famous for. The Douro Valley is where much of Portugal’s best wine is grown, and where Port is made – from which the city takes its name.
At Royal Oporto Vineyards, Tony tries dry white port with a different variation of Bacalhau cassarole. He also enjoys roast pork loin stuffed with prunes and braised with Port, served with red wine boulangere potatoes. The meal ends with a 40-year old honey Port, a perfect dessert to wrap up an incredible meal.
Parts Unknown (2017)
For his return visit as part of Season 9 of Parts Unknown, Bourdain lets Porto speak for itself with very little voice over. This is a pretty abrupt departure from his normal narrative style, and shows how much he has grown as both a writer, narrator/guide, and world explorer; he understands that some destinations don’t need our imposed commentary and can have a powerful impact without that.
Again Tony meets up with his now-former boss, José De Meirelles, to enjoy a few local meals alongside the restaurants he visited (below).
A Cozinha do Martinho
Tripe – proper Portuguese tripe – clearly made an impression on Tony from his first visit, as he enjoys the dish again with Meirelles, this time at A Cozinha do Martinho. Their tripe sounds similar to the one mentioned above, but this time Tony’s careful to point out that Port is an important ingredient too.
At Cervejaria Gazela, Bourdain tucks into more casual fare – a staple around which he built his brand of trying foods from different classes and lifestyles. Specifically, he tries Cachorrinhos. While this directly translates as “puppies,” the non-literal translation isn’t as far off as you’d guess.
Cachorrinhos are – for lack of a better term – Portuguese sausage sandwiches (not quite hot dogs), made with thin crusty bread, spicy sauce, and sausage. There are a number of great places for Cachorrinhos across Porto but Cervejaria Gazela – also called Snack-bar Gazela – is long-reigning champ as the “best” (including topping Time Out’s list of where to find cachorrinhos in Porto).
Esplanada Marisqueira Antiga
Similar to Rogério do Redondo during his first visit to Porto, Tony tucks into a seafood feast on this trip. During an extensive meal at Esplanada Maisqueira Antiga, he enjoys a feast from the sea: coastal shrimp, oysters, crab, sea urchin, Langustin, gooseneck barnacles, whelks, salt-baked sea bass, and Portuguese style clams. Unsurprisingly, he loves it all, and you can find many of these sea creatures on their menu today; pair with Port for a real Porto meal.
Mercado do Bolhão
While Tony didn’t eat on-screen at the Mercado do Bolhão, the fishwives of this famous Porto’s traditional market certainly got screen time – and stole the scene! If you’re looking for fresh ingredients, especially fresh seafood, the Mercado do Bolhão is where you can walk in Tony’s steps.
At O Afonso, Bourdain tried Porto’s other famous casual sandwich-style food: Francesinha. This sandwich is comprised of of ham, sausage, steak, cheese, bread, and is slathered with a beer, Port, cheese, and tomato sauce. If it sounds like the perfect thing after a night out or to soak up a few too many glasses of Port, you’re right and will be in good company while enjoying it.
While Tony didn’t pen it, there’s a love letter to Francesinha on the Parts Unknown site.
Real Companhia Velha
Finally, in perhaps my favorite scene of this episode, Bourdain spends a good deal of screen-time tasting cheese – Queijo da Serra and Queijo de Azeitão – and Port at Real Companhia Velha with a local guy, Andre. Here, Tony’s love for cheese shines through, and he drops some great Bourdainisms like “smells like dirty feet, tastes like heaven” and one about how to shoot video footage of cheese that will get me in trouble with Google if I use all the words he does. 😂
As you can tell, Bourdain truly enjoys his time in Porto – both times he visits. His first visit introduces audiences to the unique foods and dishes you can find here, and his return trip highlights them again. Together these two episodes show how Porto’s best elements persevere through change, and traditional, delicious food is one of those elements.
Food Tours in Porto
If you’re sold on exploring Porto’s culinary scene, you might want to take a tour – after all, we can’t all have location scouts and fixers like Bourdain did when traveling. Here are some great food tours in Porto that you might consider, which will allow you to taste some of the same foods Tony enjoyed:
Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Porto? Let me know in the comments.