Happy hours typically call to mind half-priced beers and cocktails at the local bar, but what should really draw everyone’s attention is the cheap eats. Several restaurants offer happy hour specials, sometimes for dishes off their regular menu, throughout the week. For those who want to venture past the servery for Friday dinner, I enthusiastically recommend Oporto Fooding House and Wine. This Portuguese-Indian fusion restaurant offers happy hour bites that pack a punch without pounding your wallet.
Nestled in Midtown, Oporto is also an Instagrammer’s dream with interesting decor and a cute patio with heaters and strings of lights. Its happy hour is surprisingly generous, running from 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with a more extensive food menu than drinks menu. For those of age, the drinks menu has all the staples like beer and wine, and sangria. My friends ordered a carafe of red sangria (equivalent to a bottle of wine) for $25, which they said was so refreshing it could be mistaken for juice.
The dishes offered on the happy hour bites menu range from pizzettes and paos to small plates. We decided to sample the picadinho poutine, piri piri chicken wings, chorizo bhaji pao and avocado and salmon tartine. The picadinho poutine, french fries with seared beef tenderloin topped with madeira wine-peppercorn sauce and raclette cheese, was my favorite. The fries were perfectly seasoned and firm enough to sop up the delicious sauce. My one complaint would be that there was not enough cheese relative to the rest of the components. The chorizo bhaji pao was a perfect example of how the restaurant melds seemingly disparate Portuguese and Indian flavors into one cohesive plate that fits the menu’s distinct flavor profile. This dish was a small bowl of curry made with smoked chorizo and potato in a red sauce served with a warm, almost brioche-like, Portuguese roll for dipping. Finally, it is worth noting that the avocado and salmon tartine seemed to be a deviation, as it was lighter and lacked some of the robust flavors of the menu items previously mentioned.
When happy hour ended, we switched over to the regular menu to order the queijo de cabra, feijao con fideos and curry chicken empanadas. Think of the queijo de cabra as deconstructed mozzarella sticks with marinara dipping sauce, and then imagine it a hundred times better. Instead of mozzarella sticks, it was a baked goat cheese topped with walnuts, bathed in a rich tomato basil sauce and served with grilled bread brushed with olive oil and herbs. After trying this dish, I didn’t care about what was going to come after; I was already in heaven. That said, the next two dishes didn’t disappoint. The feijao con fideos, or thin noodles with beans, kale, oregano, feta and romesco sauce (a Spanish sauce of red pepper and almonds), tasted like comfort food that someone’s European grandma would make and was definitely a crowd pleaser. The curry chicken empanadas had flaky golden puff pastry, filling with a little bit of kick and a really tasty herb sauce.
While we thoroughly enjoyed everything we ordered, I felt like the dishes that came with a sauce (i.e. the picadinho poutine, queijo de cabra and feijao con fideos) were the standouts that night. Of course, if you combine the happy hour menu and regular dinner menu, there are nearly endless combinations that you can order: I would strongly encourage groups of friends to go together so that you can sample as many things as possible.
The happy hour menu proved to be an excellent value, with four dishes costing $30, whereas the three dishes from the regular menu summed up to $35. Although paying $28 per person for food (after tax and tip) is not a bargain given that some dishes were from the regular menu, you could definitely order fewer dishes for a cheaper evening. Even so, Oporto isn’t your run-of-the-mill cafe. Rather, it is a great place to hang out with friends or go on a romantic date while enjoying some very high-quality food. Keeping these factors in mind, I would say that Oporto’s happy hour is one that provides some serious bang for your buck.