Fado's Friendly Port

An all-Portuguese vinho list offers a warm welcome at SE Hawthorne's Iberian eatery.

By Allison Jones January 2, 2014 Published in the January 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

Piri piri chicken at Fado

Image: Nomad

It’s not easy to satisfy a craving for Portuguese flavors in Portland. Chef Nick Ross, for one, so missed the fiery notes of his grandmother’s home cooking that he opened Fado, a proudly authentic Portuguese restaurant on SE Hawthorne Boulevard, to resurrect her recipes. “Portuguese celebrations are all the same,” Ross says. “There’s too much food, one loud uncle, and plenty of wine.”

Fado’s exclusively Portuguese wine list serves as a wide-ranging introduction to the region, known mostly for its namesake Porto and for vinho verde, that zippy white that has become a common sight at the American barbecue. But Portugal’s swath of rich-soiled, ocean-hugging land is rife with quirky native varietals that have distinctive personalities. Options abound in the ancient Douro and Minho regions, and global markets have yet to scoop up many of the exceptional bottles—which means you can still get them for a song.

With Fado’s tightly curated list of glass pours, brunch through dessert, you can just follow Ross’s lead—but you’ll need to bring your own loud uncle.

Perfect Pairs

Order: Banana bread French toast with cinnamon port syrup
Imbibe: 2011 Quinta do Correio Branco from Dão. The easy-drinking blend of native white varietals brings fresh flavors of lime, honeydew, and clover honey. $7

Order: Pasteis de Bacalhau (salt cod and potato fritters) with herb aioli and spicy piri piri sauce 
Imbibe: 2011 Casa Santos Lima Cigarra from Lisbon. This house favorite offers lush aromas of raspberry, cherry, and cassis with a smoky, savory edge. $7 

Order: Piri piri chicken (spicy, flame-grilled chicken breast with variations in Goa, Mozambique, and throughout the Portuguese diaspora)
Imbibe: 2012 Anselmo Mendes Pássaros from Minho. The single-varietal dry white wine complements the hot sauce’s floral qualities with aromas of gardenia, tarragon, and bay leaf. $9

Order: Felog (a traditional, custard-centered Portuguese doughnut tossed with cinnamon sugar)
Imbibe: 1981 Kopke Colheita Port. This tawny, smooth glass is worth the splurge, with spicy rose and citrus aromas and deep flavors of dried figs and chocolate. $16

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