Mon-Thu, noon-2:30pm and 6pm-11pm; Fri, noon-2:30pm and 6pm-midnight; Sat, 6pm-midnight; Sun, 1pm-10pm
C, E at Spring St.; A, C, E at Canal St.; 1 at Houston St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
The proprietors of Pão! (Portuguese for “bread”) have made a teeny restaurant on an uninspiring corner near the West Side Highway into a simple, singular spot for seafood and Iberian specialties. The animated bartender greets newcomers and chats it up with the locals, happy to steer less-informed imbibers towards his favorite white and red vinhos. Meals begin with buns and traditional Portuguese cornbread, which arrive in a ceramic flowerpot. Fish, and a few choice meats, then dominate with largely successful results: a delicious caramelized tart of smoked salmon and sauteéd cod fish with egg, onion and terrific, skinny straw potatoes. Mushy and bland, the shrimp turnovers are a disappointing exception. Even though the tables are rearranged nightly to match the reservations, Pão!’s space is so limited that there’s a chance of winding up next to strangers at a long communal table. Any walk-ins will likely dine at the bar on the disco-era, goldish vinyl seats which stand out among the dark wood and no-frills decor.Lunch Special
Soup and salad, $10.95; soup and sandwich, $12.95; salad and appetizer, $11.95