Ó-Por-Co (Pinhão, Portugal)

After a night in Porto, it was time to head out for the main purpose of our trip, a week-long hiking trip in the Douro Wine Valley. After waking, having a pleasant breakfast at our hotel, and heading out to the train station, we hit the first complication: a “greve” (Labor strike). All of the trains and ticket offices were shut down, but the folks arranging our trip at Portugal Green Walks were able to easily arrange alternative transportation, so instead of a scenic train ride up the Douro river valley, we instead had a surprisingly scenic drive across Portugal, seeing the Serra do Marão mountains and passing through the recently-opened Marão tunnel and Vila Real, getting dropped off at our guest house in Pinhão mid-afternoon.

In all that shuffle, we hadn’t really had a chance to grab lunch, so we headed down into Pinhão to try and find a light snack to tide us over to a later Portuguese dinner. This is always a bit of a challenge in Portugal, since while various travel guides insist that Portugal doesn’t do the siesta of neighboring Spain, especially in the rural parts of Portugal, they essentially do observe it: the vast majority of restaurants, and a good fraction of other businesses, will be closed in the afternoon, with a smattering of cafés starting to open in the mid-afternoon if you want to sit around drinking coffee or beer while watching futebol. But we found one major exception to this on just down from Pinhão’s train station: Ó-Por-Co, a simple little café serving an assortment of wine and petiscos (small plates).

Ó-Por-Co is basically just one long bar with a few tables in the back and along one wall, but it’s really an efficient operation, aimed at the quick preparation of sandwiches, petisco platters, and the quick glass of wine (we saw several locals come in, get a single glass of wine, talk for a few minutes, and depart, much like an Italian espresso bar).

The menu at Ó-Por-Co is also pretty simple; they’ve got espresso, beer, wine (especially a wide selection of the region’s port wines), a selection of sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, and a selection of petiscos. We wanted a selection of ham, sausage, and cheese, so we attempted to order the 20 euro “Pig” plate, but the owner insisted that we instead order the “Piglet” for half that price, and as he prepared it, I could see why: we received a generous platter of locally made cheese, two different sliced jamons (one cured, one smoked), and three different sausages, with some fresh bread and a bowl of olives. A fine charcuterie plate, indeed.

Overall, we really enjoyed Ó-Por-Co. The prices are affordable. It’s open when most of the rest of town isn’t. And the owner/bartender is very friendly and outgoing, especially with tourists (and surprisingly polylingual, I heard him speaking French competently, along with Portuguese, Spanish, and English). We even came back here once for a quick snack before boarding our train.

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