Monday, July 6, 2015

Some Special Eateries in Braga

                                                                                                                                                             Well this post is mainly about some of our favorite eateries, but a later one will hit the highlights of some special places to see. (And then we'll move on to our nephew's wedding last week.)

One of our favorite hangouts when we go to Braga is Café Vianna, a café overlooking Praça da República (Republican Square). There are tables inside and out, but we sit at an outside table under one of their giant umbrellas sipping wine and people-watching.
Café Vianna used to be a
hub of political activity in
the years before Salazar.

Now it's just a popular place
for tourists to enjoy.


It's almost always busy.











The square is dominated by an immense circular fountain, and on a hot day it's refreshing just to watch the streams of water shoot up and splash down. (It was hot in early June!) The square was being decorated while we were there (as was the city) for the coming Festa de São João (St. John the Baptist), a very popular festival that occurs mid-June.

I was surprised by a rainbow!
The arches are part of the decoration
for the coming Festa de São João 
Two gracious women at
the tourist office, Márcia
and Cristina, have helped
me a lot with my research.











The eating places in Braga are quite interesting. Each of them has a unique flair. And I don't mean just what kind of food they serve. They combine ideas about eating. For instance, on our last trip, we discovered a wine bar called Copo. But Copo isn't just a wine bar. or a tapa bar, although that, too.
It's several things rolled into one. Here we are enjoying our favorite small table by the corner window. But this building -- which is really two -- is full of nooks and split levels. The room next door is a wine and gin bar (with an actual horseshoe bar.) Up a flight from that is a cocktail lounge. A stairwell off of that leads to a small restaurant area. From where we are sitting in this picture, stairs lead down to a little champagne nook, which leads up to another restaurant area, and also down to yet another restaurant area. Surprises abound everywhere. And Copo does serve great tapas.

A little dining hall.
Unless you prefer the garden.
Art on the wall, food on
the table, books to read.
What's not to like?






A favorite lunch place of ours is Centésima Página, The Hundredth Page, a unique bookstore and café housed in a Baroque building on Avenida Central. I can't begin to tell you how inviting it is. These pictures may help. There are numerous little side rooms, small indoor tables, a garden patio. And books, books, books, everywhere! They also offer art exhibits and guest speakers, and special kid programs at various dates and times. But the books and snacks are irresistible.


Exterior: The bookstore/cafe is on
Avenida Central, not
far from Praça República.
Books, books, books! What's not to like?

















Not far from Centésima Página is a remarkable place called Casa do Professor, a home for retired teachers -- at any level: elementary to university level. It houses a library and a restaurant and bar, among other features. The goal is to make the teachers feel at home. But the restaurant is also open to outside guests and parties. We didn't take any picture of it, but here is a website that can tell you more about it . There is a buffet dining room at street level, and both a cafeteria and a menu restaurant down a few stairs to the next level. The food was delicious and so reasonably priced. Being vegetarians, we had a vegetable-filled pastry for lunch that was so good I could swoon over it. And a party of teachers were at a group of tables near the far window, having a wonderful time.

Last spring, visiting the Museu Imagem for research, (Image Museum), a unique photography gallery, we were privileged to meet the director, Rui Prata, who introduced us to both the fabulous three day photography exhibit last fall, and also Casa do Professor, as well as two other noteworthy restaurants. The names of those two wonderful restaurants elude me, but we found two more in a little square (Largo da Praça Velhanear the museum: Taverna do Felix, and Anjo Verde.

Anjo Verde means Green Angel, and it's all vegetarian food that must be cooked by angels! Last fall we enjoyed a memorable lunch of eggplant parmigiana cooked just right. We split an order, and their portions are so generous we still were quite stuffed. I only have one picture to share, but this website can show your more of the interior, as well has samples of their wonderful food :

Right next door, in the same largo was a restaurant I'd been intrigued by online while doing research -  Taverna do Felix (Felix's Tavern). I want to place a scene in my book there. These pictures should give some idea of it's distinct ambience, which is both elegant and cosy.
A great selection of wines. 

Gray lace on white linen.
Combined with Marilyn!
There was a homey quality to this restaurant, established by all the antiques placed here and there, I suppose, and the soft lighting.

Little tables were also in clusters, here and there. We were among the early guests, but were welcomed in, and "Nina" the owner, explained the wonders of Port to me as she and a warm and friendly waitress named Sandra set things in place: White Port is an appetizer, and red Port is for dessert. (I knew about the red, but not the white, did you?) In the course of the evening, she gave us a sample of each. Here's a video that gives you more information about the restaurant and owner, and you'll encounter the beautiful Portuguese language as well. And here are some photos of the food: as well as more pics of the restaurant. Our meal was lovely. We do eat fish, and we had broiled sea bass beautifully presented.
Meanwhile, the restaurant had started filling up, and there were couples at various tables from all parts: Netherlands, Belgium . . .

The man from Belgium recommended a hotel to us, and it turned out to be where we were staying: Hotel Senhora a Branca, reflecting the name of the church - Igreja Senhora a Branca - and the name of the square  - Largo Senhora a Branca, where the hotel is located. We have stayed there all three trips and will again. It's a comfortable hotel, reasonably priced, with beautiful rooms and a friendly staff. And we made friends with a young intern who has received her Masters in cultural tourism and who took us on a tour of her Braga the last evening we were there. (Thank you, Ines!)

And then there is the mysterious young woman who is always playing her violin on one street or another: 

who is she? 

Her playing is haunting. 



Next blog will be about the Churches, Gardens, and Museums of Braga. Stay tuned. 

Meanwhile, what is the best restaurant meal you've ever had? Do you like to read while you eat? Are you a vegetarian? If so, what kind? (I have learned that there are quite a few.) 



39 comments:

Mark Noce said...

My goodness, that looks fun! You're certainly living it up, good for you:)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Mark. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the good wishes.

Rosi said...

Thanks for the virtual tour. Sounds like a delightful bunch of restaurants. No wonder you go back twice a year!

Sandra Cox said...

What beautiful pictures and so peaceful looking.
I'm a vegetarian too.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Rosi, I have to say, the restaurants we've encountered in Braga are just wonderful. And the prices are so reasonable.

Hello, Sandra. I'm glad you mentioned the peaceful quality. It's a very relaxed place considering how popular it is with tourists. No rushing about. Just a leisurely enjoyment of life.

Carol Riggs said...

I wish I could be a little imp, riding on your shoulder while you're traveling! It looks so fun. And what a cool-sounding bookstore, too. One of the best restaurant meals I've had was Gustav's in Portland, Oregon--German food, nicely presented and so delicious! I don't read while I eat; I don't like food around books because I'm afraid I'll get crumbs and spills on the pages. :) Nope, not a vegetarian. I'm already limited by food sensitivities--no dairy, gluten, or eggs. If I cut out meat, I wouldn't have anything left!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Goodness@ Gluten, eggs, dairy . . . that's quite a challenge! Hmm. German food. Bet that means good sausages (from my pre-vegetarian memories.)

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

I just love these posts about your trip! I always find the atmosphere and the meal (an of course the company!) make the experience!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tanya. Indeed! The company, first and foremost. I'm glad you are enjoying the posts.

Tyrean Martinson said...

That sounds wonderful! I love the pictures and the descriptions. Thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

You're very welcome, Tyrean. I'm glad you are enjoying them.

cleemckenzie said...

All of this looks very enticing. I love that a young woman goes around playing the violin! I'm enjoying your tour of Portugal.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Lee. Yes, the woman adds so much atmosphere. I'm glad you are enjoying the "tour" of Portugal. I've certainly been enjoying your trip to Ireland!

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Hi Elizabeth...Thanks for dropping by my place :)

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you. That looks fascinating, and I love the addition of the violinist.
I am a vegetarian. Ovo-lacto (meaning I eat eggs and milk products). Some day I will become a vegan.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Elephant's child. Ooooh, I think it would be really hard to go completely vegan. Yes, I like that violinist, too. We are returning in September. I'll try to find out who she is.

Natalie Aguirre said...

It sounds like a great trip. Awesome you've been there before and have favorite restaurants.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Natalie, It's interesting: We went there the first time to do research on a book I've set there, since it's a drivable distance from where we go in Spain twice a year. Well, we fell in love with Braga. People are so warm and friendly, in both Spain and Portugal, and people in Braga have been very helpful as I do research. I feel like we've made some wonderful friends there.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for the amazing pictures Elizabeth. I had a nice virtual tour with you :)

Kate Larkindale said...

Looks amazing. I wish I was there… Winter in NZ is miserable this year, so a vacation in sunny Spain sounds just what I need.

DEZMOND said...

sounds and looks like a great place to visit! Love the fountains!

Mirka Breen said...

Not travelling this summer. I think your blog is the next best thing, so I'm coming along for vicarious eats and treats!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Rachna, glad you liked the "virtual tour"! Have a great day.

Kate, your post made me realize that you have opposite seasons. That means when we are there in rainy October, you'll be enjoying sunshine. :-)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Mirka, thanks for coming by. Glad you enjoyed the eats and treats!

Dezmon, yes, I like the fountain, too. It's lovely to sit near it and get the coolness of the water on a hot day.

Karen Lange said...

What lovely photos! Enjoyed the tour, thank you! Now suddenly, I am hungry. :) Thank you for stopping by my blog today. Have a great week!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Karen. We were hungry all the time in Braga, thanks to the inviting aromas from cafes and restaurants. All reasonably priced, I might add.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

A book store and café. Now that sounds like a place I could spend the day in. The home for retired teachers looks great too. Such beautiful pictures. I almost feel like I'm there. Thanks for the journey.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Beverly, glad you liked the virtual trip. This is a place I love to share. I'll be posting more about it soon.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Elizabeth. I finally got to travel to Braga,ha ha, through you. Loved the pics and the post. Was intrigued by Casa do Professor. Must visit if I get there next trip. What a lovely concept to make teachers feel at home. To me, books, coffee and food is my idea of heaven. Will look forward to your next post.

Denise :-)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Denise, I hope you do get to Braga sometime. We only go to the old historical area, but there's a lot of good contemporary shops along with the historic buildings and such. Yes, I loved the Casa do Professor. If you get a chance, you'll enjoy so many things about Braga.

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like there's loads of great places in that town. I'm a bit jealous. A home for retired teachers sounds like a setting for an entertaining book or film!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Nick, what a great idea! Can't you imagine the scenes? You should give it a try. (I'm too bogged down with projects to try, but I love the idea of someone else writing it.) Thanks for stopping by.

Kimberly said...

That sounds like an amazing place - I love the architecture and the idea for the Copo where it's all different types of a restaurant on all different levels - it sounds very cool. :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Kimberly, I agree. It's such an interesting architecture. I'll be talking about that in my next post.

alexia said...

I LOVE to travel, and to eat, so this has stirred up my wanderlust big time. Looks lovely. I am a vegetarian, too! Just regular - not vegan or anything. I love cheese too much. Copo sounds lovely with all the different bars in one. I do love my wine and cocktails :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Alexia. We say we're vegetarians, but we eat fish and seafood as well as dairy products. I recently saw that described as Pescetarian. Pescetarians do well in Portugal. :-)

Carol Riggs said...

Oh, fountains are so refreshing to be around. I love them. Enjoyed your photos and trip journaling as usual!

Rachna Chhabria said...

This looks like an amazing place. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Donna K. Weaver said...

What a gorgeous place. Your pictures make me want to visit it.