A bit about Porta…


Porta is a tapas bar and wine bar on Chester’s Northgate Street opened in November 2012 by Joe and Ben Wright, the brothers behind Joseph Benjamin Restaurant (next door).

Our aim at Porta is to keep things really simple. A relaxed, totally informal environment inspired by the tiniest independent cafés, bars and tapas bars of Barcelona, Paris and London.

Cured meats and cheeses form the backbone of a menu that is a collection of plates to be enjoyed singularly with a glass of wine or combined to create something more substantial. Call it tapas, call it bar snacks, call it dinner – no rules, just tasty food to accompany good beer, wine and conversation.

Seating is informal – lots of bar stools and casual tables. No need to book, just come along and grab a space – we’re open seven nights-a-week from 5pm.

Porta is located under Chester’s Northgate Bridge on the famous city walls – the site of the original Roman fortress and its North gate ‘Porta Decumana’.

This tiny shop-unit was in fact where we opened the original Joseph Benjamin restaurant-delicatessen in 2006 before we moved in to the larger premises next door. As such this endeavour is an emotional as well as literal return to the beginning.

While the main restaurant goes from strength to strength and continues to absorb our blood, sweat and tears, Porta is probably where you’ll find us recovering!

Simply put, Porta is the kind of place we want to relax in when we’re not working – unpretentious and comfortable with good music, beer, wine and food.

The menu is broadly European with an enthusiastic nod toward the Iberian. Joe works with Javier (Porta head chef and tapas-maestro hailing from Madrid) tirelessly perfecting recipes for every sauce and menu item. From the croquetas and the bravas sauce to the chorizo & lentil stew, tapas dishes – and our menus in general – should sound simple and be simple. That doesn’t mean that they’re easy to make, it just means that with such a straight-forward sounding dish, there’s nowhere for bad ingredients or recipes to hide, and even more pressure to get them right.

The bar offering is simple too: six wines – 2 white, 2 red, a rosé (ahem, rossado) and a cava – change regularly and are backed up by a lovely selection of sherries. We use all of our wine-tasting/buying skills to find great value and interesting wines – these are likely to be less mainstream, made from more unusual and un-heard-of grape varieties, but offer exceptional quality and value if you know where to look. Spain, Portugal and Italy are our starting points but are by no means the limits.

A cold ‘half’ of quality lager is not to be knocked either (Estrella Damm in this case) and a small selection of bottled beers – local and European, with the odd American craft beer thrown in for good measure gives plenty of options.

Simple as that.

You can also follow us on twitter @portatapas (and @joseph_benjamin if you’re so inclined).


Ben & Joe