Concept & Design
A Michelin-starred love letter to the fishing villages and farmsteads along the Atlantic Coast of Portugal and Spain’s Galicia.
Porto showcases wild-caught imported seafood, gourmet tinned seafood and exclusive wines from this delicious corner of the world. From inside our artfully appointed dining rooms guests can enjoy a chefs tasting or decadently combine it with seasonal expressions from our a la carte menu. No matter where you sit, the intoxicating aromas from the wood-burning ovens and grills will heighten the culinary journey.
Fresh, wild caught fish imported weekly travels to Porto’s wood-burning ovens and grills where Executive Chef Marcos Campos, Chef de Cuisine Erwin Mallet and Executive Pastry Chef Shannah Primiano take center stage at our expansive chef’s island and chef’s counter. Open-flame cooking, the most primitive of all culinary techniques, was specifically chosen for its ability to impart a sublime range of flavors, trigger nostalgia and tap into smoke-scented memories. As on land, seasonality and sustainability plays an important factor in the sea, limiting the availability of many items to a two- to three-month season. Curing and smoking, with a light hand, are techniques used to ensure that the fresh fish Porto imports can be enjoyed later into the year despite fishing seasons coming to a close.
The wood-burning oven stays busy even while the restaurant is closed, its embers slowly turning fish bones into a rich stock or helping to enrich the flavors of an over-night stew. Leftover herbs get a second life as various infusions used in Porto’s cocktails.
Fresh, imported seaweed, a superb ingredient rarely found outside of Michelin-starred restaurants along the Atlantic Coast of Spain plays an important role at Porto, where Campos incorporates the unique sea vegetable in more substantial and innovative ways.
The Spanish and Portuguese have perfected the art of conservas, a centuries-old preservation technique that captures the essence of the sea in a can. These tinned fish and shellfish are treasure chests full of seafood flavor, oftentimes an expression more exquisite than that of their “catch of the day” versions. At Porto, guests can feast on sustainably harvested berberechos, navajas, sardinillas, buttery bonito del norte belly, almejas, zamburiñas and more. Traditionally eaten directly out of their tins with little fanfare, Campos has opted instead to present these pristine products in groundbreaking ways, while still highlighting their unique and delicate flavors.
Following Campos’ lead, the desserts from Executive Pastry Chef Shannah Primiano find inspiration in classic Spanish and Portuguese sweet dishes before channeling more contemporary methods and intriguing ingredient pairings. In her hands, Porto’s desserts find the perfect balance between nostalgia, sweet, savory and adventurous.
Our wine cellar is filled with a boutique collection of wines from the best winemakers in Galicia, the Iberian Peninsula and the islands of the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Our list represents a new generation of iconoclastic winemakers. These progressive winemakers offer immensely personal expressions that embrace ancestral techniques, indigenous grape varietals and the idiosyncrasies of their landscape.
Our culinary cocktails combine our favorite seasonal elements and spirits with unexpected ingredients and flavor combinations — from squid ink and seaweed to smoke. In addition to our innovative cocktail program, the beverage menu features more than 35 selections of sherry, imported beers and no-proof cocktails.
“At Porto, we share our love for the history, culture, food and, ultimately, people of Galicia and Portugal,” says Bonhomme’s founder and creative director, Daniel Alonso, who, having grown up between the Midwest and his parent’s hometowns in Galicia, has a personal, heartfelt connection to this part of the world and the purveyors who call it home. For Alonso, research for Porto has been ongoing since childhood, instilling a passion for and relationship with the area that few can claim. Every year the Porto and Bonhomme teams make multiple visits to Baiona and Ribeira, the Galician cities Alonso has considered his second homes since birth, as well as Vigo, home of the largest fishing port in Europe. During the team’s visits to small villages along the coast, including Azenhas do Mar, Cambados, Combarro, O Grove, Corrubedo, Porto and Viana do Castelo, they sit down with the fishmongers, winemakers and farmers who are at the heart of Porto’s menu.
Concepted and designed by Maison Bonhomme, Porto’s interiors create a heightened intimacy between guests, chefs, food, wine and the stories that connect inside two distinct dining atmospheres: the Main Dining Room and Atrium. Woven harmoniously throughout every surface of Porto are artistic elements drawn from Europe’s visual arts legacy and physical elements that romanticize the sea and the little villages dotting the coastline’s of Galicia and Portugal.
Upon entering Porto, the scene is set with custom-designed wall coverings in four one-of-a-kind motifs by acclaimed local artist and regular Maison Bonhomme collaborator Erik DeBat, which envelop the room with evocative prints that recall the beauty of graphic design and lithographic printing of the 19th century. The work by visual artists and designers of this time are as gorgeous and avant-garde today as they were over 100 years ago. The cultural resonance of their work also extends to all table service items, which have been sourced from Sargadelos, a 200-year-old maker of fine ceramics from Galicia.
Intense attention to detail as well as a passion for reinventing vintage pieces and giving historical pieces new life, signatures of Maison Bonhomme, appear throughout Porto. Fourteen early-20th century American composition light fixtures that once hung in the lobby of the historic Continental Bank on LaSalle Street are adorned with an acanthus leaf pattern and their original chain and canopy. Wine storage is anything but ordinary at Porto with a carefully repurposed 19th century 20-foot-by-12-foot Belgian library bookcase beautifully doing its new job. And an 1872 cast-iron balcony, one of two from the Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum, was rebuilt by ironworkers and wraps around and frames the interior walls facing Ashland and Chicago avenues.
The main dining room is dominated by Porto’s chefs island, the centerpiece of the restaurant, an 80-foot-long oblong counter built with repurposed wood from fishing vessels and 20 slabs of brushed granite. Floating above it are custom blackened-steel and wood shelves whose scale and size evoke the frame of a fishing vessel’s hull. From this intimate space, guests seated in plush navy velvet and brass counter stools interact with Porto’s culinary and beverage teams while watching the dining scene unfold in front of them.
Flanking either side of the chefs island are two cozy nooks, each appointed with plush velvet armchairs and custom brushed granite dining tables. On one side, a monumental Murano crystal chandelier, designed by Maison Bonhomme in collaboration with the Venetian masters, hangs underneath a 20-foot-high skylight.
Porto’s Atrium channels the feeling of a weekend dinner at a fabulous country home; the crackling sound of wood burning in a nearby wheel grill fills the room and stirs the senses for gatherings of up to 50. Calacatta marble and antique brass tables paired with plush velvet armchairs are the perfect seats for couples while an antique 20th century French truck panel table provides seating for larger groups. Antique French sardine traps were repurposed to create one-of-a-kind chandeliers throughout the Atrium. On warmer days, the atrium’s sliding windows allow the space to become indoor-outdoor. Pro tip: ask to be seated at the atrium’s chef’s counter.