“Nelson dos Leitões” Nelson of the suckling pig is a traditional family restaurant that has been open for over 26 years and only serves one thing, spit roasted suckling pig. Every Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat, Mr. Nelson drives for one hour from “Bairrada”, a region in Portugal known for this speciality, and blesses us with the presence of his tasty little friends.
As you walk into “Bolhão”, one of the most historical markets in the city, you travel back in time, and you experience what markets used to be like back in the day. You smell fish, meat, vegetables and flowers depending where you walk, and a slight sent of bleach, depending on the time of the day. Every Porto Local holds a special place in their heart for this market, when you walk in you feel like you are projected 50-60 years ago and you start to wonder that things are so much shitier nowadays. It is a shame that the city representatives have let this historical place come to this state of degradation. The mayor has finally said that he is planning to do some “refurbishments”, being very vague in explaining the work that is going to be done, I just hope that he keeps the original look that is unique about this place.
The restaurant is located on the first floor above the main entrance and the staircase is located on both sides of the middle of the building. As you walk up you see the pigeons and vegetable stalls that inhabit the top floor. When you see tables set outside, you have found the restaurant. It is a good idea to book a table and your portions of “leitão” before you go, as this place tends to be quite popular. One Dose, 300g is €11 and half a dose 150g is €8, in order to be satisfied you need at least half a dose per person, but the last time I went there were 4 of us and we shared 3 doses 900g. If you ask for the “leitão” this way, instead of a sandwich, it comes with pickles, olives, chips and bread, so in the end it is better value for money. The “Leitão” sauce that comes to the table is divine and you can almost put it on anything.
To drink you should go with the sparkling Red Wine which is traditional to be served with “Leitão”, yes sparkling red wine does exist and it complements the “Leitão” perfectly. The cheapest bottle is €6 and it is called “El Dourado”. There is also regular red wine which can be asked for in a 0.75cl bottle as well as a half bottle.
I love places the specialize in one thing and get it right, their love for the pig is transposed in the food they serve giving this place a particular feel and atmosphere which is traditional of the “Bairrada” region. Nelson and his son execute and represent this region perfectly and bring to us locals the tastes, traditions and culture of their region. Mr. Nelson´s love for pork is obvious and also noticeable in the pig figurines displayed in the shop windows, take a closer look and you will understand. The suckling pig awaits you.
Address: Mercado do Bolhão 14-15, Porto
Tel: 231 504 094, 22 200 2271, 919 485 512, 917 528 997
Opening hours: Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat from 10:00-19:00