If you can only have ONE meal while in Porto, O Paparico must be it.
Hidden in the the hilly neighborhoods of Porto, Portugal, O Paparico is a definite gem worthy of a Michelin 3-star for its outstanding food, service, and ambiance. It is ranked #2 out of 1253 restaurants listed on Trip Advisor in Porto (we think it should be ranked #1!)
Since this visit to Portugal had been pretty impulsive, we had decided the Tuesday the week before to hop on a flight on Monday to fly to Europe, our dinner reservations were made for later in the evening. We hailed a cab from our hotel (you should always take a cab in Portugal because it is very, very cheap) and after a short 10-minutes after we arrived at O Paparico.
I actually didn't know we had arrived because there was no obvious signage for the restaurant; it looked as if we were in a quiet residential neighborhood, and for a moment I panicked not knowing if we were being dropped off to the right place. The cab driver motioned at the tiny, tiled cottage across the street and I made my way there and studied the wooden, single door entrance. Looking closer I saw that there was a tiny sign that said O Paparico, and I tried the door handle - locked. Puzzled, I stepped back and thought, 'why isn't it open?' I then saw the little brass handle on the door in the form of a tiny hand which was to be used as a doorknock. After knocking a few times a lady opened the door and welcomed us in.
We sat in the waiting area on a comfortable leather sofa and watched retro television in what seemed to be a cozy living room. We were served snacks and raspberry water while we waited for our seats.
My friend went for the wine pairing (40 euros) and since I am not a big wine drinker, I asked for a sweet wine to go with my meal. Sergio must be able to read minds, since he showed up with the perfect tawny Port Wine, delicious and just right for my taste. (They also have an in house Sommelier selecting the wine pairings, worth your money if you are able to drink!)
Several 'surprise' starters* showed up prior to our meal, which were delightful and the veal pate was the highlight of my day - I could have eaten that all day!
The next noteworthy dish is the prawn - my friend and I wondered HOW they could have such fresh prawns (yes we know, Porto is right by the water), but it was a buttery texture that we have never tasted even though we live on the West Coast in Vancouver. Amazing texture, supreme freshness, vibrant color - this dish was a 10/10 on every category.
Now on to the mains. The lobster rice, did I just say LOBSTER rice with a hearty lobster pieces with a creamy risotto? UN-believably tender and buttery texture once again. This actually tastes like a dream.
There was also the codfish, a popular dish in Porto, you can even buy a full codfish yourself from the markets if you so fancy. Encrusted in a crispy exterior, you can cut through the meat with a fork easily, and the large, defined pieces were equally buttery in texture and tasty with its infamous salty cod taste.
Next I had the veal, cooked to perfection with just the right amount of pink. It was served with a side of mashed special mashed potatoes. I say they are special because at the bottom was a layer of caramelized onions (OMG! Caramelized onions!) Just try making this at home yourself and you will see why that deserved an ALL CAPS mention.
Following several flavorful entrees, we were served a light, refreshing pre-dessert dessert (yes! These meals are full of surprises), with a raspberry sorbet and fruit. Don't be fooled by their menu when making your dessert decision, a 'Soft Egg' is NOT an actual egg! It is the one of the most delicious, fluffy desserts you will ever have. Here we present a photo of the exterior of this enormous 'soft egg'. Want to see what it looks like inside? Well, you will have to visit Porto yourself!
Make sure to book a reservation at O Paparico as they only have 10 tables available! A cozy and special restaurant worthy of a 3-star Michelin award, we highly recommend this as part of your travel itinerary while in Porto!
*Fine dining in Europe is usually accompanied by several delicate small-bite pre-meal starters, so remember to save extra stomach space!