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Mar 26, 2011 02:30 PM

Fish, fish, fish!!! restaurants in Lisbon, Sintra and Madeira

Hello all:

My husband and I will be in Portugal early April and are looking for fish restaurants specializing in grilled whole fish, sardines, octopus and squid. My husband plans on eating sardines every night, and while I love them, I like variety and would probably want to try some meat dishes. Don't usually have dessert but definitely like to start with appetizers (not looking for mozzarella sticks). And we love our wine - whites and dry rose.

We are not interested in trendy or 5 star restaurants or three hour meals. However, we are not looking for budget. Moderate to expensive is fine. We love eating outside so any restaurants with a terrace would be great.

One restaurant in Lisbon I read about is O Ponto Final - great seafood with a terrace and an amazing view. I have the feeling I won't make the effort to go there after a big day of site-seeing. Should I?

thank you!

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  1. @ Sashaz,

    Fresh seafood, including octupus, squid, and shellfish, are ubiquitous here in Lisboa and are available at simple and moderate places throughout the city. I've suggested tons of places over the years here, nonetheless here are some recommendations.

    Here are some places that I suggest:

    Cervejaria Ramiro (Estefânia) The best place in Lisboa for shellfish. They do not serve anything else, but if you crave shellfish, this is the place to go.

    Cervejaria Barcabela (Estefânia) Right down the street from Cervejaria Ramiro they serve a wide range of options, including freshly grilled fish and non-seafood items as well.

    Churrasco da Graça (Graça) Simple grilled foods, including fish, are the specialty here and the ambience is simple and homey. Cash only.

    O Farol (Caçilhas) On the other side of the river from Lisboa, take the ferry (10 minutes and 80 cents) from the Cais do Sodré and the restaurant is right near the terminal. Dishes are hearty and extremely fresh.

    O Ponto Final (Caçilhas) Yes, if it is a nice day, this place warrants a visit. More expensive than O Farol, but the view is incredible and the food is divine.

    Restaurante Ibo (Cais do Sodré) More upscale but not stuffy, but the food is unique and the seafood dishes, particularly the Mozambican prawns, are DIVINE! The wine list is superb, the decor is pristine, and service is stellar. The food is Portuguese with influences from Mozambique and they even have a special section/menu for Mozambican dishes. The chocolate mousse infused with mint is dynamite.

    Sea Me (Peixaria Moderna - Chiado): A newer restaurant that is quite eclectic that might be worth checking out. I've only been here once and was quite satisfied.

    Sinal Vermelho (Bairro Alto): While not solely seafod, the octupus here is one of my favorites in Lisboa.

    Please let me know if I can be of any help and I hope you enjoy your visit here!

    Boa Viagem!

    11 Replies
    1. re: vinhotinto75

      Thank you so much for all the wonderful suggestions. I did a search after I posted my question - a little backward - and read so many of your posts. You're pretty famous!! Lots of great suggestions.

      What is your opinion of the Lautasco in the Alfama district. I saw a photo in one of the guidebooks. I have such a weakness for pretty terraces in nice squares. Of course, most of the time this is where I eat some of my worst meals. However, the wine was always good. Any recommendations for restaurants or wine bars in this area (we are staying in Olissipo castelo).

      Do you ever comment on Trip Advisor or Fodors or other travel sites? I bet they would be thrilled to have you. BYW- are you originally from Portugal?

      Thank you

      1. re: sashaz

        @ Sashaz,

        If there is one terrace to visit, albeit a tad touristy, it would have to be the Restô do Chapitô in Alfama.

        The views of the city and the Rio Tejo are dynamite. I'm not familiar with Lautasco, but I do have a co-worker who lives in Alfama, so I can ask her if you would like.

        Thanks for your feedback on my posts. In answer to your question, I was born in a former Portuguese colony in Africa and moved to Brazil when I was rather young. I then divided a good deal of my time between the US and Brazil and have been living in Lisbon permanently for the past few years. While I have been a Portuguese citizen my entire life, I have been fortunate to live all over the world, yet am now extremely content to spend most of my time living/working in Lisbon.

        Since you are staying in Alfama, make sure that you see the old Jewish quarter of Alfama, Mouraria, and have a bica or some sort of sweet at my favorite pastelaria in the Largo da Graça. Follow your instincts and feel free to let me know if you have any questions regarding food or anything else!

        Boa Sorte e Viagem!

        1. re: vinhotinto75

          Thanks so much Vinho....What an exciting life and it's terrific that you have found a place you want to settle in, some world travelers never find it.

          Thanks for Resto do Chapito suggestion but we will probably stick with the other restaurants you mentioned and maybe find an outdoor restaurant for lunch. Read about the Santo Amaro docks and may stop there for lunch for maybe a drink after visiting Belem. Looks like a nice walk.
          Thanks again

          1. re: sashaz

            The Santo Amaro docks have quite a few seafood restaurants serving fresh fish. If its a nice day, you can sit outside with a nice view of the seaside.

              1. re: r.vacapinta

                thanks for the suggestion. Would it be possible to walk from Belem? And if so, is it a nice walk?

                1. re: sashaz

                  @ Sashaz

                  Yes you can certainly walk from Belém to the Santo Amaro Docks (AKA Docas) in about 25-35 minutes. Keep in mind that the Docas area is rather fabricated and indicative of new urbanism that has popped up globally; particularly in regards to port/dock development. One place for a VERY simple lunch, although very good food, is Sagitário in Belém, It is right down the street from the famous Pastéis de Belém.

                  Obviously on the opposite (east) side of Lisboa is Parque das Nações which was planned for Expo 98 and has grown tremendously in terms of commercially and residentially since then. They also have restaurants, a shopping mall, a huge aquarium, etc. that is accessible on the red line of the metro. There are some decent places, including one for seafood called Sr. Peixe, that also might be worth going to if the weather is nice. I've only eaten there once for a birthday party invite a while ago and it was so-so. You can also see the Vasco da Gama Bridge, the Rio Tejo, and ride the Telecabine if you are feeling extra touristy. Just more ideas, although I'm not much into fabricated atmospheres or gentrification...

                  Boa Viagem!

                  1. re: vinhotinto75

                    well putting it that way I may want to miss the Santo Amaro area....however as I said before I love eating outdoors especially with a view. If the food is good maybe it's worth it. or maybe have lunch at Ponte finale although that trip would take a good portion of mid-day. Since we have only 2 nights in Lisbon don't want to venture too far out of the city center. Leave on Tuesday....very excited....even my husband - very happy he can eat fish every day (2X/day)
                    Thanks again

                    1. re: vinhotinto75

                      vinhotinto75:I am not sure I agree or disagree with you regarding the Docas. Personally, I think its not much different in character than the Parque das Nações. Also my wife, a native Lisboeta, would go to that area as a teenager.

                      But if Chowhound is about finding good food, what did you think of the food at Docas? I've eaten at a couple of the Doca Peixe places and the fish was outstanding. It also was much better value than Sr. Peixe which I think is very overpriced.

                      The Parque das Nações places are a strange lot. I've been there many times for parties as well. The food is not particularly good but I suppose that, unlike the smaller places in the city, they are better able to handle large groups so everybody is having their birthday parties there.

                      sashaz: If you just want a view perhaps with drinks, that may be an option as well. There's a bar called Le Chat beside the Museu de Arte Antiga with a terrace. For that matter, the Arte Antiga also serves lunch in its courtyard overlooking the harbor.
                      There's also Cafe Noobai which serves simple salads on a small terrace with sweeping views.

                      1. re: r.vacapinta

                        @ r.vacapinta

                        I'm quite neutral on the Docas as I'm not as vocally opposed to it (like one of my neighbors!) and very much the same as Parque das Nações/Expo. Yes, I agree on the whole food is usually better at the Docas places and that should be paramount, but I just don't like the artificial/gentrified atmosphere *personally*. I found Sr. Peixe to be just ok and it is not somewhere I'm going to dine again unless I'm obliged.

                        Some places that I've had good meals in the Docas are the Alcântara Café and Doca 6. Still, for better food AND for views of the Tejo I much prefer Ibo at the Cais do Sodré and Restaurante da Associação Naval de Lisboa in Belém.

                        There was an article rather recently in a local newspaper on how the "middle class" that emerged since the 1980/90s gave way to a younger generation who do not know more traditional areas of the city such as the Baixa, Chiado, Graça, Saldanha, Bairro Alto, etc. as they prefer the more recent creations of the Docas and Expo as well as the shopping malls like Colombo. I've seen this in many other places throughout the world such as Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

                        1. re: vinhotinto75

                          thanks to both for more restaurant suggestions! I'll be sure to post a restaurant/food report when I get back.

        2. It is a bit early for good fat fresh sardines. But there are plenty of other fresh fish for you to enjoy.

          Regarding resturants, just follow vinhotinto75's good advices.

          Enjoy yous stay.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Celecanto

            Oh no.....when is sardine season?
            Oh by the way, how do you say "I like crispy skin on my fish, please!"

            Thank you

            1. re: sashaz

              @ Sashaz,

              If you would like the skin of your fish grilled or extra-crisp, simply ask for the pele (skin) to be left on and prepared "bem crocante" or "bem grelhada" or "bem dourada." Make sure you just ask for the skin to be prepared this way since you don't want overcooked fish.

              While June is the famous month with the Popular Saints and Sardine Feasts here in Lisbon, you still will find them on many menus at all times of the year.

              Boa Viagem!

              1. re: vinhotinto75

                thanks! do they all mean the same thing? I probably use the one that is easiest to pronounce - bem dourada....
                Also, do most restaurants have menus in english?

                1. re: sashaz

                  Yes - most restaurants will have menus in English, yet that does not designate that it is touristy. Also, many Lisboetas have a fine command of the English language.

                  Bem grelhada = nicely grilled

                  Bem crocante = Nice and crunchy

                  Bem dourada = Nice and golden

                  Please feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions!


                  1. re: vinhotinto75

                    thanks so much...I'll be sure to report back!

          2. Sardines now only frozen. The best chef working fish is Bertilio and now is consultant at Casa da Comida.

            At Sintra you should try G-spot, not only for fish but for everything. Near Sintra you have Cascais/Guincho with lots of good fish/seafood restaurants (Monte Mar, Furnas, Porto Santa Maria) medium high prices.

            On the top of all you must try Jaquet in Funchal behind the market, fantastic.

            Take care with grilled fish. If you ask for well done (bem grelhado) you ´ll receive a dry fish to much done. Most of the restaurants and also the people in Portugal overcooked the fish. You should also ask about the amout of salt they put on the grilled fish.

            If you stay in Lisbon between 7 and 17 of April go to PEIXE EM LISBOA a event organised by the tourism with the best restaurants in Lisbon
            a must

            4 Replies
            1. re: portsardines

              Yes, we will be in Lisbon at that time but the website page is stuck...I will try later. Are there restaurants in the market? do you recommend Jaquet for lunch or dinner? I'm assuming it serves seafood.

              And thanks for the tip - overcooked fish is not good.

              1. re: sashaz

                Normal restaurants that open a small corner in the event, Restaurants like
                Fortaleza do Guincho (one michelin star)
                Ribamar (from Sesimbra)
                Tasca do Joel (Peniche)
                Umai (Japonese)

                Among others.
                I just saw the website page (even in english). It´s very well organised

                Jaquet i prefer lunch
                At Funchal you can try Tokus and hotel quinta da casa branca

              2. re: portsardines

                Does anyone know if it is possible to eat in the market in Funchal? Are there cafes/restaurants or tables in the middle where you can buy from various vendors and then eat? - similar to the market in florence or Eataly in NYC?

                1. re: sashaz

                  one or to coffes, no tables in the middle. You can buy fruit and eat it there, but nothing more. Near the market behind Jaquet there are more restaurants.
                  The market it´s small. very lively with lots of colours from local flowers, and spring it´s the flower season in Madeira