Cais de Gaia (Avenida Diogo Leite) - Porto - Portugal
Before you delve into this colourful blog on Don Tonho II, please take note of the ‘II’ - as you might think that I am talking about the original Restaurant opened by Rui Velosa the Portuguese pop star. The same owner - but this is the second opened directly across the river in Cais de Gaia, named ‘Dom Tonho II’, also offering fantastic views of Oporto and dynamic local cuisine.
My host insured me not to worry - as it also serves superb seafood, including fine Bacalhau (dried salt-cod), and also boasts one of Porto’s most exciting wine lists, the menu changes daily, with many delicious surprises on the day that we dined.
The original restaurant, physically has a piece of the historic Porto inside - with part of the 14th century city wall as a feature - the second is a more recent addition, dedicated to serving the locals a more modern cuisine menu with a lighter touch, but with no less attention to service or quality cuisine.
Located next to the Douro River and Dom Luis Bridge, this Porto restaurant offers traditional Portuguese dishes, with a modern twist, for a gastronomic enthusiast like myself, it is a wonderful place to watch the world sail by - sorry for the pun, but you have to go there if you can.
Both Dom Tonho restaurants are owned by the same local pop star, and are a haven for the famous as well as operating a good tourist trade, since 1992. Try the sea bass with a salt crust or roasted goat in red wine, both delicious and worth the wait - plus ask your waiter to suggest a few menu options as we did, they made my lunch one not to forget. The setting makes this restaurant one of the most beautiful, offering fantastic views of Oporto; it has quickly developed a reputation for its gastronomic excellence and friendly, knowledgeable service. Our waiter gave me a great insight to the history behind many of the dishes on the menu as well as other local dishes cooked in the home, cooking techniques along with local wine suggestions.
Since it opened, both have welcomed famous personalities such as French president Jacques Chirac, Fidel Castro, musician Lou Reed, actor John Malkovich, and Italian superstar Marcello Mastroianni just to name a few. Today I had the pleasure of being hosted by and dining with ‘Master Port Blender’ Fernando Oliveira, from Calem & Barros Port House - who with his guidance and knowledge of local cuisine, wine and port - helped make a simple lunch a memorable experience. If you find yourself in Porto and wish to experience old and new cuisine and wine in one place - I would suggest you put Dom Tonho on your list of things to do - please book in advance. P.S. ask your waiter for a Port-Tonic, a perfect way to start any lunch on a hot day, especially on the side of the Douro.