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Portuguese Palate

Houstonians get a taste straight from the home country.

Portugallia also has an impressive little arsenal of Portuguese wine, including the all-important Vinho Verde, meant to be drunk young and complement the salty fish. It's among 13 different Portuguese wines the restaurant imports, in addition to most of their food. Cured meats, sausage, ham, cured fish, specialty beverages, olive oil and even some of the seasonings — all come from Portugal, and all make a significant difference in the way the food tastes. Also imported from Portugal: the talented Chef Soares, who came recommended by Paulo's brother.

But that's just one of the reasons Portugallia has become so popular with Houston's Portuguese-speaking diaspora. The comforting caldo verde is another reason Portugallia packs them in.

The traditional Portuguese soup is made with kale, potatoes and chouriço, the Portuguese version of the pork sausage better known here as chorizo. The chouriço in the soup comes, of course, from Portugal, and is much milder than the fatty, orange-greased breakfast taco stuffing we know and love in Houston. It gives the potato puree — which is softened further with plenty of olive oil and a bloom of garlic — just the right touch of salt and savory flavor, and it's easy to see why the soup is now considered one of the country's national dishes.

The arroz de mariscos is a popular dish.
Troy Fields
The arroz de mariscos is a popular dish.

Location Info

Map

Portugallia Restaurant & Lounge

12126 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77077

Category: Restaurant > Portuguese

Region: Memorial

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Caldo verde: $6.95
Pasteis de massa tenra: $7.95
Chickpea salad: $8.95
Foie gras: $10.95 Costuletas de porco grelhadas: $14.95
Arroz de mariscos: $18.95
Steak with lobster: $22.95


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There are many more reasons you'll find Portugallia consistently full: Salsa night on Fridays is one. The restaurant stays open until 2 a.m. these nights — a much more Iberian dining and partying timetable than you'd normally find in West Houston — and stays packed the entire time. By day, the place fills up with people like owner Paulo Dias — who's also an oil company exec — out for nice business lunches. Portugallia ably switches gears between both sets of guests.

While the service is never anything but capable and friendly, I do worry sometimes that there's a disconnect with the kitchen. Order the foie gras, for example, and what you'll actually get is pâté. The servers may or may not know any better — especially since the menu calls it "foie gras" — but they'll insist that what you've received is foie gras nevertheless. It's a shame, too, because the pâté itself is great, with a sharp liver tang to it that's livened up by a salty-sweet, exceptionally good tomato-plum compote I wish Portugallia would sell by the jar. I'd buy a case of it.

But minor complaints like these vanish when I recall a dinner in which the eager waitress saw how much our table was enjoying the costuletas de porco grelhadas — pork cutlets with an outstanding creamy mushroom sauce — and swiftly brought out another huge gravy boat full of the sauce. We stopped short of licking the plate and began dipping our fries (house-made and fresh cut, another bonus) straight into the gravy boat with glee while our waitress giggled at our excitement.

And just imagine: Portugallia hasn't even started serving its Angolan dishes yet. I've waited a long time for Houston to get more Portuguese food, and an even longer time to find West African food in an upscale setting. Portugallia is intent on making both of those dreams a reality, and I'm intent on supporting it every step of the way.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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1 comments
aplatanada
aplatanada

Looking forward to trying it- hope they eventually do serve Angolan cuisine. Not to get picky, but Angola is considered southern African, not western. (It's a member of SADC, Southern Africa Development Community.)

 
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