Portugal Questions - Algarve, Evora, Coimbra, & Lisbon
We are traveling to Portugal (Algarve, Evora, Coimbra, & Lisbon) in late June. We are a family with two kids ages 4 and 7, and we will have a car except for when we are in Lisbon. All price ranges are fine, good food and drink is the primary criteria. I have a few specific questions.
We land in Lisbon at noon, and are driving directly to Sagres. Does anyone have ideas for a quick lunch either near the airport or along the route?
Algarve: We are staying in the Pontalaia Apartments in Sagres, and will likely stick to the area West of Lagos including Silves. Are there good breakfast/coffee options in Sagres? What about markets and grocery stores? We will definitely go to some of the great sounding recommendations from Monchique and others such as Rui's in Silves, Mar a Vista, Vila Velha, Eiro do Mel, and Gabriel.
Driving from Sagres to Evora, are there any suggestions for places to stop for lunch and walking around? Looking at a map, Beja seems a convenient place to stop.
Evora: We are staying inside the city walls. Any comments on the following places: Don Joaquim, Fialho, Tasquinha d'Oliveira, Lis, Luar de Janeiro, or Taverna? Other places?
Driving from Evora to Coimbra, we will stop in Batalha. Any recommendations there?
Coimbra: We are staying at the Pousada Condeixa-a-Nova - Santa Cristina. Is the restaurant at the pousada any good? From what I have read online it sounds like many of the pousada restaurants are not very good. O Cabritino has some good reviews. How about other places in Condeixa-a-Nova or Coimbra? A Taberna is recommended on this board, and A Capella and Ze Manel dos Ossos are recommended in "The Wine and Food Lover's Guide to Portugal."
Driving from Coimbra to Lisbon we may stop in Alcobaca or Obidos. Any recommendations?
In Lisbon we are staying near the Avenida Metro. I've gone through the board for recommendations for Lisbon, Sintra, and Belem. Places such as Bonjardim, Gambrinus, Sinal Vermelho, and Solar dos Presuntos sound good. Anything else near our hotel that stands out? Is it appropriate to bring our kids to Solar Do Vinho do Porto? How about a place such as Os Goliardos? Also, we would like to go to one destination restaurant where the kids would not be out of place, if possible.
Thanks in advance for the help.
The advice from monchique and vinhotinto75 was fantastic. We didn't have a single bad meal in Portugal, either at their recommendations or at places we found on our own. The wines we had were fantastic values. The Vinho Verdes, Alentejo reds, Douro whites and reds, Dao reds, and of course the ports were very good. The most we paid for wine at a restaurant was about 40 Euro, and usually we spent under 15 Euro. The soft cheeses, especially the ones from around Coimbra (Queijo da Serra), were amazing. The couvert or pao e manteiga (correct phrase?) almost always consisted of good rustic bread and local cheese and maybe sausage. I was usually happy to pay a few Euro for this.
Some specific comments:
Mar a Vista (Sagres): We had a very good cataplana with monkfish, and the kids had some of the best fried fish that I have ever had. The location and service were great.
Vila Vehla (Sagres): We had simple, fresh grilled fish. The turbot was particularly good. A bit more upscale and pricier than Mar a Vista, but still a good value.
Rui's (Silves): We had the seafood platter with assorted shellfish and clams for the kids. The shrimp and clams were particularly good. Overall a good experience, but the some of the items including the lobster were a tad overcooked for my taste. I noticed this in other Portuguese restaurants as well.
Sao Roque (Lagos): Fabulous, perfectly cooked grilled fish (sea bream and emperor fish) plus a nice octopus salad at the beach in a fine setting.
Don Joquim (Evora): Utterly fantastic braised pork cheeks and stewed lamb migas. One of the best meals of the trip. Friendly service without being overly familiar.
O Fialho (Evora): A bit of a letdown after Don Joquim and more expensive. The pork & clams were decent, and my wife had a meat dish that was OK but that I can't remember. The service was a bit stiff and overly formal.
Bonjardim (Lisbon): Really good grilled chicken. A definite hit.
Esquina de Fe (Lisbon): Obviously a place for locals with just well cooked simple food. We had grouper and a duck rice that were perfect. Really friendly service as well.
Fabrica (Lisbon): Great value seafood place. We had one of the platters with lobster, salmon, and whitefish for 34 Euros that was so big we couldn't finish it all. The service was fine, but a bit odd.
Solor dos Presuntos (Lisbon): I gather it is somewhat an institution, and it was an appropriate place for our last meal. Good value and good food in a nice setting. Big wine list. I had fried pork that was recommended by the waiter and was good. An example of what you can do with high quality ingredients. My wife had turbot with a nice spinach side.
You won't be out of the airport till 1pm having got luggage and car, and that limits the possibilities. I asume you will be taking the motorway and the Vasco de Gamma bridge. In Lisbon, you could have lunch at "Na Ordem" www.naordemcomluissuspiro.com. This is the restaurant of the medical council,; It is open to the public and literally 3 minutes drive from the airport. Not sure if the kids will enjoy, but the food is certainly interesting and tehy have a big garden. Otherwise the petrol station just after the bridge on the motorway serves very reasonable food & snacks, or if you are early enough we like the Pousada at Alcacer do Sal.
Apart from the hotels, nowhere special for breakfast in Sagres that I know of. Plenty of supermakets and cafés though.
Sagres to Evora: I agree with Beja. The Pousada itself is worth the visit, and the food is quite good. Plenty of small restaurants too, but none remarkable. Stick to the speed limit on that road, it is always full of road traps...
Evora, nothing to add to the restaurant list. Visit the Pousada, and just next door don't miss the church and the palace of the Dukes of Cadaval (small entrance fee). There is a nice café in the courtyard of the palace.
That's where I stop... If you have time around Coimbra go to Bairrada for some leitão assado (suckling pig). Several specialised restaurants on the main road to chose from.
Oh. and Obidos rather than Alcobaca, the pousada in the castle!
It seems like you have read quite a bit on this board already, so I'm sure you have a good list of places written. I highly recommend A Taberna in Coimbra (as you have noted from my previous posts). It should be fine with kids too as many families like to celebrate special occasions there. The goat and veal dishes are fantastic!
Dom Joaquim is always crowded with families, so that I would say is a nice option in Évora.
Personally, I don't think the Solar do Vinho do Porto or Os Goliardos is ideal for kids. Neither place really serves any food and it mostly very confined to wine. Neither place is at all snooty, but I just don't think they are very kid friendly.
Some places in Lisbon that would be nice with kids (albeit these are more casual and fun with generally good food)
Restaurante Esquina da Fé
Forninho do Saloio
Primeiro do Maio
João do Grão
There is also a new place right near your Metro stop on the Avenida da Liberdade which specializes in Pizza and Steak which might or might not be of interest too. There is also a fun place called FROG that is casual and has kid-friendly food too on Rua Braamcamp.
Feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions.
Boa Sorte e Viagem!