Eating cheap in Porto is not hard. Neither it is a good taste. Getting it served with charm, a smile and with a lovely explanation, it is also a rule. However, seeing your waitress running all around a market to buy the freshest products in it… It can only happen in Bolhão Market in Porto.
Bolhão Market’s history starts in 1839 as a square, but it has been only since 1914 that serves the city with fresh products on its current structure. Its architecture, by the way, is nowadays badly damaged. The market has been even threatened by luxury real estate projects. Fortunately, it has been recognized as a monument of public interest since 2013.
But let’s get back to its content. You can not only buy fresh products in Bolhão Market, but also eat, thanks to a couple of restaurants that you’ll find just down the stairs from Fernandes Tomas street. Sounds like a trick, but you’ll not find any restaurants at the other end of the market (and Bolhão Market is actually not small).
I sit on one of the terraces (yes, it is early January, but in Oporto… the sun is shining!), on a table decorated with these Portuguese tablecloths, full of cocks, red and green squares. Out of the menu, suitable for all kind of tourists because of its hyperrealist pictures, I choose “cod with potatoes and salad” (my weakness in Portugal along with Natas). In addition, some bread, as a good Spanish custom. And here you see a woman running to the bakery to serve the freshest bread she’ll find. While preparing my plate, the table next to me orders a gilthead bream. It is time to get one of these at the fishmonger’s right round the corner: she shows it to you grabbing it by her fin … and direct to the grill! And if there is something that Portugal guarantees better than any other country, it is their fresh production. It is not uncommon to find sailors bringing fresh fish in the morning and even these ones splashing in the market. And on the table, get ready to savour something fresh, tasty, juicy and cooked with love.
Worried about the price? C’mon, it is not even 7€ for the main course, drink and bread!