“That's why all these people are here,” co-owner Michael Santos, a Luso-American born in Portugal and raised on the east coast of the United States who speaks the language well, told Lusa. He had already pointed out that, in LA, “there are almost no Portuguese restaurants”.

The public that attended the premiere was mostly North American, filling the interior space and the outdoor area shortly after the doors opened. Waiting time per table reached an hour and a half, something that impressed Michael Santos. “It's crazy right now,” he said.

In a relaxed atmosphere, with paintings alluding to fado and black and white photographs of a past Portugal, the hustle and bustle at Barra Santos was tempered by rare sounds in Los Angeles, such as “Canção de Engate” by António Variações.

The menu is typically Portuguese with a focus on the great culinary successes that are associated with Portugal. There is chicken with chili, sardine toast, codfish cakes and bifanas. There is also cod and chickpea salad, shrimp prepared with green wine and garlic, and sausage dishes.

In addition to the food, the wine list is one of the great attractions of the place. “Most of the wine on our list is Portuguese, 75% to 80% of the list is Portuguese”, stressed Michael Santos.

Bringing the community together

He added that he would like the restaurant to be a favorite place for people of Portuguese descent as well, since there are practically no other similar offerings (with the exception of Natas in Sherman Oaks, which is more focused on pastries, and Caldo Verde downtown, which has a mixture of Portuguese and Californian cuisine).

“I hope this is the beginning and brings more Portuguese people here”, said Santos, pointing out that the community is very dispersed. "California is so big, they're all over the state."

It's a stark contrast to what Santos experienced on the other side of the United States. “There is no Portuguese community here like there is on the East Coast,” he said. “I was raised in Rhode Island where everything is Portuguese, there are many communities”.

Barra Santos, located in Cypress Park, is about 40 kilometers from the Portuguese salon in Artesia, the city where the largest Portuguese community in Los Angeles County resides.

It is precisely from Portugal Imports in Artesia that several of the products used by the restaurant come from, which is also supplied by HGC Imports in San José and an importer from Point Loma, San Diego.

“All the products we managed to find come from Portugal”, explained Santos, with direct and indirect imports. "What we couldn't find we used things from here or Spain".

Open from Wednesday to Sunday, Barra Santos will mainly serve snacks, dinners and drinks. The project was well anticipated in the market for being a creation of Last Word Hospitality, the same team responsible for Found Oyster, a place that gained notoriety (and space in the Michelin guide) with its fish and seafood dishes.