Houston's Oporto Fooding House Features Adventurous Chef's Specials

Most nights, Oporto in midtown Houston is packed with diners looking to kick back with an inventive cocktail or a sampling of tapas from the tried-and-true menu, but it is the chef's revolving daily specials that are worth a return trip.

This larger counterpart to the café at Greenway boasts Portuguese-inspired dishes and cocktails that go beyond the run-of-the-mill— think a caipirinha bar where substituting cachaça for vodka is not uncommon.

Though the restaurant does a terrific job of offering a variety of vegetarian options in addition to the meat-heavy plates, one thing is for certain: Seafood dominates the menu. You likely won't find a pizza anywhere else in Houston quite like the Pizzette do Mar topped with shaved spinach, shrimp, and calamari. Opt for oysters — both raw and baked are done well — or go for the very shareable Arroz de Mariscos for a hearty portion of clams, mussels, scallops, prawns, and Gulf-caught snapper served over zesty tomato rice.

You can expect these staples during both lunch and dinner at Oporto, but the list of chef's daily specials is even more enticing. The Gazpacho de Malao is a treat during Houston's still-scorching fall evenings. Made with tomato, canary melon, sherry cucumber mignonette, and garden basil, the chilled soup is a refreshing precursor to some of the fiery dishes. And by fiery, I literally mean on fire. If you see the flaming Portuguese sausage on the list of chef's specials, be prepared for an attention-grabbing display of this traditional dish.

Though the restaurant draws influence from destinations around the globe, it maintains a "support local" attitude by sourcing ingredients from trusted area vendors. A current dessert favorite is the peach cobbler, baked to golden perfection with famed Fredericksburg peaches. And if you don't happen to save room for dessert on your first visit to Oporto, don't fret; just start planning a return trip for those revolving chef's specials.

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