I think I will have to stop doing Houston restaurant reviews. It’s not because I’m being lazy or not finding the time, which are my usual suspects… It’s because when I go out to eat, it’s going to be hard NOT to go Oporto. From service to food, Stef and I found Oporto to be outstanding. As soon as you walk in, you immediately feel cozy. The design is impressive and comforting and there is an amazing scent, a smoked goodness nuance, to the restaurant. The entire staff was extremely accommodating. After asking my waiter, James, some questions and seeing if I could get some pics for the blog, he mentioned that they are in the hospitality industry. And hospitality is something Oporto showed well.
So that’s all fine and all, but how was the food? It’s genius. So many bold flavors that work so well together. Great Chefs know how and when to use ingredients such as cinnamon, mint, and even parsley in savory dishes and they’re not afraid to punch your face with flavor. Chef Rick and Shiva Divirgilio are no exception as each dish we tried had so many flavors going on but all married elegantly. Most of the plates are generous “small plates” so you are able to try several different items. Since I knew I was going to blog about this place, we opted for EIGHT different dishes, including desert.
Caldeirada – This was a rich Portuguese bouillabaisse that Stef loved. I did as well, but she truly is a sucker for bouillabaisse. It contained fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, vegetables, and moorish spices.
Salada de Polvo – This was kinda like a seafood ceviche with octopus. The mustard vinaigrette is amazing.
Squid Fried Rice – We added an egg to it. Next time i’ll add two eggs because the yolk compliments the entire dish so well. It was then topped with a squid ink aioli that gave it a wonderful smokey sesame flavor that was very intense. Very rich and hardy. This is a definite “come back and get again dish”.
Piri Piri Smoked Chicken – I don’t usually get chicken at restaurants, but this was their special of the day that was braised for 4 days and smoked for 4 hours. Hands down, best chicken dish I’ve had at a restaurant.
Seafood Balchao Curry – This contained gulf red snapper, shrimp, scallop, spicy goan curry, house naan (which we didn’t try, sticking to the gluten free side of things), and basmati rice. Yet another “come back and get dish”, there are just so many flavors going on here. I am definitely going to have to go back and try again, because my notes say “best dish ever – flavor wise, top in Houston”… So I need to validate a few more times.
Polvo Com Batatas – This contained wood grilled octopus, mustard seed soffrito, coriander, and shaak potatoes. I’m a sucker for grilled octopus, which is what led us to this restaurant in the first place, and this did not disappoint. The potatoes were soft and perfect.
Basil Gelato – …I don’t know what to say other than “wow”. Sweet and savory at the same time. Just go try it.
And we couldn’t end the night without a Messias 1977 Port, which was outstanding. I wanted the 1964 but they were sold out… they have a 1913, but it was $42 per ounce… Goals.
To sum this all up, I have a new favorite restaurant in Houston.
After you try it, be sure to come back and let me know what you had and what you though on the comments below.
One more thing to note, I appreciated Oporto’s menu because it points out gluten free items and they accommodate gluten free requests on other dishes. I’m not trying to be all “faddy” on the GF kick, it’s just I had some chronic health issues that miraculously cleared up after removing grains (exception of rice) from my diet.