The Penha Sanctuary overlooks Guimarães, and is easily accessed by road or cable car. Dan José, a traditional restaurant, is up there, too. Granite steps and cobble-stoned walkways make it easy to visit a hermit's grotto and take in the view before dining at the restaurant.
Dan José's interior is modern in styling, but the chef prepares typical regional plates. Cooking is as in a home kitchen, utilizing Portuguese ingredients when possible.
Starters new to us included a soft mountain cheese, spooned over bread studded with chorizo bits, and a taster portion of a local favorite, Papas de Sarabulhho. Main courses like cod in breadcrumbs and roasted kid introduced the homely meals of northern Portugal, oven-cooked in terracotta, drizzled with oil and surrounded by potatoes and stewed turnip greens with garlic. Dessert was a trio of fine sweets: mango mousse was fluffy and light; flan-like pudding, smooth and redolent of caramel and wonderfully scorched sugar; and the pavê of biscuit, condensed milk and chocolate, totally decadent.
Every dish was well prepared and presented, and server José helpfully described the preparation of each. We enjoyed a port-and-tonic as an aperitif and a good Vinho Verde with the meal.
My husband and I traveled by car, up a winding road from Guimarães. When I return--as I hope I will--I'll take the teleférico up for a mid-day wander on the hilltop and make it a two-hour lunch.
Dan José is a wonderful place to combine sightseeing and cuisine!