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The name “Escondidinho do Barredo” holds no deception. First of all, it really is hidden (escondidinho): there is no sign at the entrance or menu at the door. And that’s how this tavern of Ribeira has remained more or less hidden for over 70 years. And then, the tavern is located in Barredo, a beautiful area of Ribeira.
The owner is Mrs. Cremilda, daughter of the founder. Today, the tavern also counts with Mrs. Cremilda’s two daughters, the third generation of the family. This eatery sits on a quiet nook, surrounded by the last flight of Barredo’s stairs on one side, and a stone arch to the other. The interior fluctuates between empty and crowded, but don’t let this put you off, you’ll soon find some (or a lot of) company.
As you enter, your eyes will get caught on the small kitchen and the counter that displays some of the petiscos. But hold your horses, those prepared to order are really the best. The menu is limited to one page and a single-copy that circulates throughout the tables and offers around 20 petiscos. Pig’s ear (3.5 €), papas de sarrabulho (pork blood soup) (1.5 €), sardines in escabeche (1.5 €), fried cuttlefish (8 €), rissoles (1.3 €), tronchas (meat croquettes) (1.3 €), fried floured tripe (1.5 €), octopus (8 €), fish roe in molho verde (5 €), and iscas de bacalhau (fried salt cod in batter) (4.5 €) are the main candidates.
After we sat, in came who we thought was a new customer. We couldn’t have been more wrong: it was Mrs. Cremilda herself. Quietly installed on a table beside us, Mrs. Cremilda chopped an onion the old style way, hand firmly gripping the onion and differing slices in several directions. She told us the secret of her bolinhos de bacalhau (cod fritters), that she prepares right there and then: 3 parts of cod to one part of potatoes. Maybe that’s why they’re so famous.
As it was a late lunch and we were rather hungry, we weren’t shy in our order. The iscas de bacalhau of Ribeira are famous, so we knew they were a mandatory order. The remaining requests were perhaps less obvious, as we ordered the floured tripe and fish roe with molho verde.
The first order to come to our table was the bread basket, gently covered with some paper napkins. Suddenly, a crispy golden floured tripe (tripa enfarinhada) arrived, profusely sprinkled with cumin and white pepper. It was surely the most beautiful floured tripe I had ever seen, completely smooth with the color and shape of a freshly fried croquette.
Then came the fish roe covered in molho verde (olive oil, vinegar, onion, and parsley). The roe was cooked so perfectly that it gained a softness comparable to a paté with a marine aroma. The copious amount of onion in the molho verde seemed to appeal more to aesthetics than to edibility. However, upon tasting the raw onion its delicate sweetness and suppleness quickly proved me wrong. The bread and broa were also to blame for helping mop up the last drizzle of molho verde from the tray.
With all this hubbub we almost forgot the main character, the almighty isca de bacalhau. Upon ordering it, we were promptly asked if we knew what it was (we sort of look like tourists in our own town). Although we said we did, the two ladies insisted on explaining that it was a sort of batter crepe rolled over a large strand of salted cod. The isca alone could have been a full meal, not only due to its massive size but also because of the expertly crisp batter and the flaky, silky codfish buried inside.
You can’t possibly visit a place like Escondidinho do Barredo without feeling a bit moved by its aura. This small tavern has seen generations of a family, of people who have dedicated their lives to cooking. In this Ribeira, we find simple food cooked to perfection, but also a unique community and neighborly spirit, a rare sight these days. This small space we found by chance gave us reasons to come back, and believe that you can still come to Ribeira to eat local traditional food, the right way.
We also recommend visiting Barredo, an ancient area of Ribeira that is almost intact, with its steep and almost infinite stairs, and somber yet colorful alleys that make the tall medieval buildings seem like skyscrapers. Here you’ll see the most authentic Porto, one that might even make you forget where you are.
Escondidinho do Barredo
Rua dos Canastreiros, nº 28
Tue-Sun: 9:00h – 23:00h
+ 351 222 057 229