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One of the pioneers of the west Soho dining scene, Pão attracts a fair number of eye-gazing couples to its tiny candlelit dining room and sidewalk tables. The menu arrives in gilded frames (cheekily suggesting that the cuisine is a work of art), while servers distribute fresh-baked bread in terra cotta flowerpots. The cooking, however, spurns gimmickry, with handsomely prepared dishes like meaty wild striped bass or bacalhau à braz, a rich, satisfying mélange of sautéed codfish, egg, onion and straw potatoes. The delectable cataplana, Portugal’s answer to bouillabaisse, has a pleasant spiciness, though regrettably appears only as an appetizer. An extensive selection of reasonably priced Portuguese wines provides a fine accompaniment to the Iberian dishes.
322 Spring St
|Cross street:||at Greenwich St|
|Transport:||Subway: C, E to Spring St|
|Price:||Average main course: $20. AmEx, MC, V|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Thu noon–2.30pm, 6pm–11pm; Fri noon–2.30pm, 6pm–midnight; Sun 1pm–10pm|
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