If you're up north in the Minho region, the town of Ponte de Lima is worth visiting for many reasons: it's picturesque, there's a great regional market, and--unsurprisingly for this blog--there's a fantastic restaurant: A Carvalheira.
It's located across the river from the center of Ponte de Lima in the neighborhood called Arcozelo--a very pleasant 5-minute walk across the bridge. It's in an old stone house, and the centerpiece of the restaurant is the big stone hearth, where some of the cooking is sometimes done--it's the perfet spot for a warming, winter evening meal. Although everything I tried was superb, the house specialty is pernil de porco assado, or roast pork shoulder (Filipinos, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are quite familiar with this cut), and it is spectacular. Crispy crackling--well, I suppose it's not skin, but fat--on the outside, perfectly tender meat on the inside, accompanied by roasted potatoes and greens (couve, something between cabbage and collard or mustard greens, wilted, then sauteed). The potatoes and greens have so much flavor that it's impossible that they're cooked in simply oil--there's definitely lard working its magic in there. One of the other house specialties is arroz de pato (duck with rice, baked in the oven), and it's also wonderful. In fact, everything is of the highest quality. And at about 30 bucks a head, VERY well worth the trip if you're in the vicinity. This place is extremely popular, especially on the weekends, so it would be worth calling ahead. Closed Mondays.
Restaurante A Carvalheira
Antepaço - Arcozelo
4990-231 Ponte de Lima, Portugal
(+351) 25 874 23 16