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Mar 28, 2008 11:37 AM

If you could go anywhere in Portugal, where would you go?

I have been saying I want to plan a trip to Portugal for years and this year I am finally doing it (early-mid summer). $ is not a huge issue. I have already been to the Sintra area in the winter months. My spouse and I are pretty big foodies, but we enjoy local fare, simple country meals, and little known places with a story the best. I usually start planning trips based my fantasies of great meals. If you have been to a great town or two or three and you could go back I would love to hear some feedback. If you would recommend a city/region/place to stay in Portugal, based on your food experiences, where would you go? Thanks!

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  1. This is exactly the question I should have asked. We are going in April for two weeks. I decided I was going to take notes all over Portugal and post them because there is so little information on food recommendations outside of Lisbon. Hopefully, I'll get some information from your post before we go.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Deborah

      Cool. Im looking forward to your write up.

    2. What about the Algarve... Lots of top class restaurants starting with Vila Joya, Amadeus, Henrique Leis,Sao Gabriel, Willies (all with Michelin stars). Vila Vita in Aramcao de Pera has fantastic accommodation, and their restaurant "Ocean" is also top class. Plenty of simple local bars, beach restaurants and "tascas" around. Avoid July August at all costs!

      1. Porto, without a doubt. Aside from being a lovely little city, you check out the wineries and eat very well for virtually no cash.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cmoniker

          do you have any recs for restaurants or dishes to try in porto? thanks!

          1. re: patz

            Absolutely! (Forgive the lag, it's been a while since I last logged on.)

            Don Tonho (Cais da Ribeira 13) serves contemporary Portuguese cuisine overlooking the river with the Port wineries climbing the hill behind. The clams here are delicious, so be sure to ask if they have any in, and their toucinho do cué is the best dense almond cake dessert ever.

            Taylor's (Rua do Choupelo 250) is the restaurant at Taylor's winery. The food's good, if not especially exciting, but it's worth eating at just to hit the port wines after dinner. (I have yet to find anywhere else that serves Taylor's 40 year tawny by the glass.)

            Nelso dos Leitôes (upstairs in the market, Mercado do Bolhâo, loc.14-15) is hard to find, but well worth the hunt. Every day they roast a piglet here and sell sandwiches of the tender juicy meat for a mere 4€. Be sure to arrive before 2pm though. There's only one piglet a day and it flies. (If you do miss out, don't despair! The cafe just outside the market called Confeiteria do Bolhâo do a more than reasonable facsimile in much larger quantities.)

            Abadia (Rua Ateneu Comercial do Porto 22-24) is on a road so small it's not found on maps, this place is worth finding. It has a massive bustling dining area and looks like a tourist trap when you walk in, but I had some of the best roast octopus tentacles I've ever eaten there. The portions are massive, so I'd recommend ordering half portions.

            Then there are the port wine bars. My favourite is Vinologia on Rue Sâo Joáo 45 which is run by a French guy and his incredibly knowledgeable staff and stocks only wines from small producers,all of which they sell by the bottle if there's anything in particular you fancy taking home with you. It's tiny though, so it's worth stopping by early(ish).

            The Solar do Vinho do Porto which is found at Rua de Entre Quintas 220, very close to the Palacio de Cristal, is also a lovely place to watch the sun set and relax with a port. Mostly ports from more commercial wineries, but they have an impressive selection of vintages by the glass available.

            Hope this helps, even if it does come almost a year after you asked!

        2. Olivier in Bairro Alto in Lisbon 35 Rua do Teixeira 1200-459

          One of the best meals of my life. The location was impossible to find - not one cab driver knew where to go so make sure you have it mapped out before you leave. We were in 3 cabs that night and were an hour late b/c none of them knew the small street it was on...

          Dinner was a 10+ course tasting menu. You don't order... The food and service were incredible. Octopus carpaccio was off the charts.

          Here's the website:

          2 Replies
          1. re: rosiemac75

            I'm going to be in Lisbon in a few months - this place sounds great! The website doesn't have prices though - do you recall how much the tasting menu was per person? Thank-you!

            1. re: ciaociao

              I highly recommend it. We had such a good time speaking with the owner and his sister about the food, that we ended up staying for 4 hours and doing a port tasting at the end of the meal!

              So unfortunately I have no idea what we spent b/c 1) all of the port tasting added to the bill although I am sure they didn't charge us nearly the amount we drank and 2) given the amount we drank, I am not quite sure I even signed my name legibly to the bill.

              Wish I had better info for you. Although I do recall I wasn't outraged by the bill and given the experience would have probably paid more...

          2. About restaurants in Algarve you just have the rigth information.

            About Lisbon and surrondings

            High end
            Eleven One michelin star with a german chef. Nice food with lack of something(emotion). you must go. better at dinner.

            Tavares the second oldest restaurant in iberia peninsula, a new and young portuguese chef (28 years). good experience. Very heavy decoration.

            Valle flor at pestana palace hotel. Very nice place. Some mix fields about the food.

            Panorama at the roof of Sheraton. Modern with a young chef.

            Near Cascais
            Fortaleza do Guincho One star michelin. French cuisine

            Porto Santa Maria Also one star. Very traditional. Seafood and fresh fish.

            Medium range


            Virgula, Portuguese

            Luca, italian/japonese

            Cop,3, portuguese, trendy

            Terreiro do Paço, portuguese, overrated

            Mercado do peixe, for fish, overpriced


            100 Maneiras portuguese- international very good

            Out of lisbon there are some very good recomendations. let us know the places you intent to visit


            3 Replies
            1. re: nuno61

              We really enjoyed Porto Santa Maria too. Had some kind of whole white fish baked/steamed in a salt crust and it was absolutely delectable.

              1. re: nuno61

                We just returned from a cycling trip in Portugal. Fab! For a blowout dinner we decided to try Eleven in Lisbon. A lovely room, great view.
                Overall we felt the experience was less than what should be expected at a starred Michelin restaurant. We all chose the Eleven tasting menu with additional wine parings at 75 and 35 Euros respectively. While the food was good, especially the Carpaccio, we found it lacked some level of "Oh Baby!" you would expect at such a place. The wines were nice but they were very stingy pours. Over the course of a 3 hour meal I would expect at least one top up. In fact, one of our group asked for an additional glass. His was poured while the other three sat there with empty glasses!! Far better to order wines on your own especially if your group is large enough.
                As the reviewer mentions above there was some lack of emotion or fun to the evening. The sole exception was the lovely hostess who came by to chat with us on two occasions.
                Overall we were disappointed with the experience and would not recommend it or return.

                1. re: chiefscout

                  Sorry about your experience. I am off to Portugal this weekend, for a week. We will be in Lisbon, Figueira da Foz and Porto. This is my first trip to Portugal, can you give me anymore food feedback, dishes to try, etc. Thanks so much in advance.

                  Glad your overall trip was great.