Culinary foray into Portugal
I’m telling you from the beginning, Portugal represents the best culinary experience that I have ever had! It was beyond Greece, Italy or Spain. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is the worst and 10 the best, Portugal is Godlike!
Now that this is clear, I’m going to tell you all about my culinary experiences in Portugal, so that if you ever go there and want to explore their cuisine you can use this as a guide. Apart from the first night’s choice, which I acknowledged from the beginning, I wasn’t fooled by any tourist traps.
The first recommendation in Lisbon is Time Out Mercado da Ribeira (Address: Av. 24 de Julho 49, Portugal), open daily from 10am to 2am.
This is the only place where I ate twice during my holiday, and only because I was super impressed by the market. I’ve heard about this type of markets (in Spain to be honest) but never have I ever visited one before. You can find a lot of similar markets throughout Lisbon, but nothing compares to what you find in this one.
Another place that you should not miss is Cervejaria Ramiro Lisbon (Av. Almirante Reis, nº1 – H 1150-007 Lisboa). It’s the type of restaurant where you have to queue in order to get in – the first of its kind that I have ever seen and been to (just like in Seinfeld – The Soup Nazi). The average queue time is 40 minutes, but we were lucky and got in after just 20 minutes as the queue wasn’t that long when we got there.
Believe me when I tell you, the food they serve in here is worth queuing for even a whole hour – it is really from out of this world! And I am not talking about the plating, because it was lousy, nor am I talking about the elegance of the place, it was really nonexistent. I am talking about the quality and taste of the meals. Phenomenal, I’m telling you!
The next stops on our list were two fishing villages: Olhao and Peniche. Depending on where you’re located, a visit to one of the fishing villages is a must. The distances may seem long, we travelled for about 70 km to reach these villages, but given that they have freeways the distance doesn’t really matter. Trust me, the food in a fishing village is incredible.
Here we ate at Marisqueira Amador, but I don’t think it really matters which place you pick as long as it is on the sea shore – Av. 5 de Outubro. This street is full of restaurants and taverns, so just pick the one that looks the shabbiest, local, try to identify the indigenous people and have a seat there.
You must try Cataplana here. Cataplana is basically a pot in which food is prepared. The base ingredients are either fish or seafood – I chose seafood. Well, I chose other crazy stuff too.
Peniche is another fishing village (I know they’re not really villages, but ‘fishing village’ sounds much better than ‘fishing town’, and locals refer to them as villages too). As with any fishing village, all you have to do is locate the street where all the restaurants and taverns are… which is usually by the sea. For Peniche, it is not actually on the waterfront, well somewhat there but not quite. Anyways, just look for Av. do Mar and apply the same principle here in choosing the place to eat as with any fishing village.
We chose Restaurante Rocha. Here we had, among others, Caldeirada but this time we chose it with fish and assada sardines – a local speciality. Truth be told I don’t like sardines, but these were something special.
This is not a fishing village, however this place has the biggest waves ever surfed. It’s only obvious that I couldn’t miss out on this destination, right?
Here we ate at Rosa dos Ventos, Nazare (R. Gil Vicente 88, 2450-106 Nazaré, Portugalia), which is rated the first place on Tripadvisor. Justly.
Don’t be intimidated by the fact that they’re number one, their prices are more than acceptable. Just because they are appreciated by a lot of people did not cause a price increase, they are basically as any other restaurant where you can have fish.
If you want to change the atmosphere a lil’bit and try something more hipster like, go to Miss’Opo. I’ve had the best salad ever here.
While you are here, go to Lagos which is on the other side of the river crossing Porto. This is where the wine warehouses are located. Go via Rua Serpa Pinto and you’ll find what you’re looking for. We went to Cockburn’s Port Wine Lodge.
At every place that we’ve been to, I accompanied food with wine. Not with sangria (I’ve had this on the beach, instead of juice), not with Porto wine (it’s too sweet for my taste), but with either white, rosé or green wine – refreshing and easy.
The cost of a meal does not exceed 30 Euros for two persons (to be honest Ladybug and I share an appetiser and a main dish together) with wine and still water included.