Every time I go to Porto—and fortunately I go there a lot—I feel a bit like Kanye West. I know I shouldn’t. No one should, not even Kanye West. But, in my defense, each time is a very brief occurrence: It only happens for a few moments, the ones between asking for a croissant and being served one. And it’s not my fault. It’s theirs, those damn (good) Porto croissants. For too long I didn’t even know croissants were a local specialty. But a few years ago when I mentioned to a couple of colleagues that I would spend the next few days in the city, one of them replied, “Lucky bastard. I would give my pinkie finger [don’t ask, it’s a Portuguese thing] to eat a Porto croissant right now.”
Of course my first reaction was to correct him: “I said Porto, not Paris.” Oh boy, was that ever dumb. Porto croissants are what Parisian croissants want to be when they grow up. Most important, the pastry is different—not puff, not viennoiserie, but closer to brioche. They’re not as delicate and won’t break into crumbs when squeezed or nibbled. Croissants in Porto are pastier, sturdier, and often sugar-glazed on the outside, leaving them sweeter. This, however, doesn’t prevent them from being stuffed with a variety of fillings and eaten at almost any time of the day: plain or with butter in the morning; with cheese and ham for lunch; with chocolate, jam, or sweet egg cream for dessert. Some prefer them au naturel; others request they be pressed in the sandwich toaster, especially when filled with cheese. There are no rules, just great croissants.
Ironically, the first time I had a Porto croissant I wasn’t actually in Porto, but in the neighboring city of Matosinhos, at Mixpão, a local pastry shop where croissants and queues are a matter of cause and effect. It was love at first bite: crisp on the outside but humid—almost slightly undercooked—on the inside. Confeitaria Henrique Carvalho, also in Matosinhos, is another venue where they shouldn’t be missed. Obviously they’re just as good in Porto, whether near the sea (Doce Mar), next to the city’s most famous roundabout (Boémia), in the midst of downtown (Padaria Ribeiro), or in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Bonfim (Chicana). Each one brings its own nuances, each one is capable of making me sing, “Hurry up with my damn croissants.”
Wherever you are, you deserve a croissant. Here’s where to get one:
Location: Rua João de Barros 313, Foz
Contact: +351 22 618 7904