UNITED STATES—While I’m not a bona fide “foodie,” Portuguese comida made you pay attention.

We joined an REI hiking trip traveling along the Rota Vicentina – the breathtakingly beautiful fisherman’s trail along the Iberian coastline.  Along with that adventure came great food in the small fishing villages we stayed in after our  a 5 plus hours on the trail.

The Portuguese pride themselves on grilled food – very fresh and perfectly grilled – crisp on the outside, tender on the inside.  In fact, as you walk into a restaurant you’d pass by the grill master at work.

The first night of the trip, the wonderful aromas of dinner came as a surprise.  I knew that if dinner was repeated the second night I had to share it.  I came armed with my camera, and was not let down.

The dinner, served family style, at Restaurante Viriato in Cascias was exceptional.  The place was filled with locals, so there was a hint that the food was going to be good.

Portuguese fish soup.
Portuguese fish soup.

First up were the fixings, that were part of the ubiquitous cover charge at restaurants which includes bread, olives and cheeses.  The bread alone was worth the 1.5 EUR.  Crispy crust, and sweeter less pasty dough than say Italian bread.

Then we were served local  white and red wines.  Next up was a mixed green salad.  As soon as you cut into a fresh tomato you could smell it.  This was followed by the famous Portuguese fish soup.  It was served in every restaurant we ate.

Next up was a platter of grilled lamb and veal.  We actually ate 2 platters it was so good. It was joined by 2 types of fried potatoes.  Every meal had potatoes somewhere.  Either on the side, or as a separate offering.

We then we managed to demolish a dessert platter. And finally a shot of the unique Portuguese Acorn liqueur.  Everything about it was a surprise, including both the smell and the flavor.  I’ve never even considered eating an acorn.  I highly recommend giving it a try.