Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review: Porto

For a foodie, Philly is city sparkling with neighborhood gems.  And in my 'hood, none shine brighter than Porto at 11th and Wharton.  It's a tiny lunch counter that has everything I look for in a good brunch spot: Good coffee (they serve La Colombe), relaxed atmosphere, reasonable pricing and well-executed food.  But what makes this place really stand out--and I mean really stand out--is their menu, which is a menagerie of strange but tantalizing pairings, and dishes that come straight outta left field.

Porto touts itself as a Portuguese joint, but most of their dishes are intriguing (if not completely insane) riffs on classic, good-ol'-fashion American diner fare.  Want French toast?  Porto's got banana s'mores stuffed French toast, topped with gram cracker crumble and caramelized maple pecan syrup.  How about waffles?  Porto has the "Yo Cuz," a mad-cap chicken and waffle sandwich with bacon cheddar waffles and jalapeno maple yogurt glaze.

As if that's not crazy enough, the menu also skews unexpectedly across disparate ethnicities.  Take for example, their "Porto Special," a heaping plate of eggs, kielbasa and periogies that are sure to be the envy of Polish grandmothers everywhere.  Consider also their culturally confused "Virgin Mary Falafel Tacos," served with a cabbage lime slaw, feta cheese and a yogurt-sumac sauce.  What?

Falafel Tacos (right) and Perogies (left)
Sure, the menu here reads like a mad-libs exercise, but it all works. Trust me.  My favorite dish is the curiously titled "Black Dawg," which features that hallmark of Portuguese cuisine: bacalhau cakes.  Similar in appearance to a crab cake, bacalhau is a traditional Portuguese staple made of dried and salted cod.  Porto pairs them with perfectly poached eggs and a bliss potato hash studded with olives. A cilantro yogurt sauce completes the dish, rendering it unforgettable.
Complimentary hot-sauces that complete Porto's unique dining experience
As evidenced by their playful array of yogurt condiments, Porto's sauce game is out of control.  And to further hammer this feature home, they bring every table a sampling of four house-made hot sauces.  Ranging in character from tangy and mild to searing hot and sweet, these sauces are all wonderfully tailored for your dipping pleasure.  And for me, they're half the fun of eating here.  You could even say they summarize Porto's food as a whole.  They're colorful, playful and outlandish on one hand yet natural and familiar on the other.  They're shining examples of serious culinary flare and gusto, which is what this place is all about.

No comments:

Post a Comment