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Portugal Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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Finally, a trip to Portugal in the works. A week in the Algarve is fairly well planned, but there is another week or so to enjoy Lisbon and the area, and Porto, if all goes well. Food, restaurant, and lodging recommendations for early spring most appreciated! I'm anticipating lots of wine, port, sausage, seafood, caldo verde, and cream cakes. Getting a book (or two) on Portugese cooking this weekend, to get a better idea of what to expect.

Thanks!

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Go by 30 min local train from Lisboa to Cascais (regular and inexpensive). It's a lovely town (previous home to many deposed Monarchs) and there is some great sea food restaurants (but quite expensive).

Or take the ferry across the Tagus and there are many local seafood restaurants on the sea front.

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The roast piglet town is Mealhada, just north of Coimbra. Leitão is traditionally served with a very peppery sauce, freshly fried crisps (or potato chips, or whatever you want to call them), green salad + fizzy wine. Wonderful!

There are also good leitão restaurants a bit further north (near Anadia and Águeda) - I can give you their names if you like.

Also recommended are O Manjar do Marquês in Pombal and Tromba Rija in Leiria (you have to be very hungry to go there!) Excellent restaurants in the Alcobaça and Rio Maior area.

Good seafood in Ericeira north of Lisbon, and Sesimbra and Setúbal south of Lisbon.

I'm afraid I don't have much experience of restaurants in Porto and Lisbon, so I can't really make personal recommendations, but very happy to list recommended places from Portuguese publications if you like.

Personal recommendations only in the very, very north, where I live.

Don't forget that in the typical Portuguese restaurant, servings are sometimes enormous and that it is quite common to have a half "dose" (price indicated on the menu) or to share dishes.

Netmenu has lots of restaurant info, but I can't remember whether any part is translated into English and I can't open it at the moment (internet a bit sluggish here).

Chloe

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I agree with peterpumkino about Cascais.

Try the Abatroz hotel overlooking the beach. The serve large gambas which come from Mozambique. They're about 8" long and are butterflyed and grilled. They serve them with a piri piri sauce, which is ground up red peppers. Other than a bed of rice, that's all you get. Have a bottle of Vino Verde to go with this.

I've gone back a number of times just for this meal.

Blackduff

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We have been in Porto in November 2001 for a conference and thus stayed in a nondescript business hotel. Upon insider recommendation we enjoyed D. Tonho twice which is at the port. It is a fine seafood restaurant and the wild seabass in salt crust was very good. They also have good salumi. On our last night I met a Portugese businessman and professor who is also a gourmet and he recommended that we try Portucale but it was too late.

By the way in the last issue of Wine Advocate(#144) Rovani(Parker's associate) has listed 4 portugese restaurants in Porto, Coimbra, Viseu and Praia do Guincho, respectively, as among the best meals of 2002 and provides some details. Why do not you take a look? :smile:

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello all i am looking for people who live in portugal and spain. I want to talk to as many people as possible to find out where to go, where to stay and all that good stuff. Mrs chloe has been helping me a bit with northern portugal(i promise i will write you asap im sorry for the delay) but i want to know as many people as possible. Im heading there for my honeymoon from august 5th to around september 20th. So i really want to get to know people who know the countries. I do have lots of family in central portugal and i visit preety often so i know a bit about some things. Its the rest im going to need help with. So if anyone would be so kind as to respond i would greatly apreciate it.

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I enjoyed Galicia very much. I've never been to Portugal and I don't know if Galicia would provide a good contrast or if you'd be better off coming into Portugal (or out of Portugal) from a more southerly route. Can you give us some idea of your intended route. The month of August is prime vacation time for many Europeans and traffic in resort areas will be heavy and rooms scarce to find. From early in September on, you should have fewer problems. That might help you in planning your route.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Honeymoon? That's great!

It's been about ten years since I visited Portugal, and I hear a lot has changed in terms of Portugal's status as a tourist destination (when I was there, Americans seemed a novelty to a lot of people -- especially outside Lisbon), so I hope others will have some up-to-date information on lodging, dining, etc. I can, however, say three things:

First, you will absolutely love Portugal. I remember it as one of the best trips of my life, and, more significantly, so does Mrs. The Fat-Guy, who has been everywhere. It's absolutely beautiful. Lisbon is among the most underrated of the great European cities, and the Algarve is as gorgeous as anyplace on Earth. I found the people exceedingly friendly as well.

Second, if you're going to be there, and you have a serious interest in things culinary (which I assume you do if you're posting this message on a food board), I strongly suggest you visit Porto. The Port houses are some of the best wine-tourism destinations out there. I don't know how much time you have allocated for Portugal, but if hypothetically you had a week I'd suggest a couple of days in Lisbon, a couple of days in Porto, and the rest of the time relaxing in the Algarve (Lagos is, I think, the town we liked best).

Third, unless you're a teetotaler, you'll be drunk the entire time you're there, because you'll be drinking Vinho Verde like it's water.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Well ive contacted some people and are getting some great ideas from everyone but im not close to done yet. I will be drunk for 7 weeks!!!!!!!!! The plan is to start in northern portugal work my way down then cross over to spain. Work my way through spain for a while then into france for a bit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Having been totally swamped (professionally) for about the last 4 months, I haven't been on the site much at all lately, so I'm just now seeing this.....

I lived in Portugal for 4 years (now back living in NYC), where I made it my mission to find all the great things to eat I could. I could go on for hours about all the wonderful food there ( not always easy to find unless someone who knows tells you exactly where to go) and would be happy to tell you anything I know. But help me narrow it down.....what are you interested in finding out about? Tell me--places? Types of food? I need an idea where to begin.

I also have extensive knowledge of the great food (not to mention breathtaking landscape) of Asturias--will you be passing through there?

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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Having been totally swamped (professionally) for about the last 4 months, I haven't been on the site much at all lately, so I'm just now seeing this.....

I lived in Portugal for 4 years (now back living in NYC), where I made it my mission to find all the great things to eat I could.  I could go on for hours about all the wonderful food there ( not always easy to find unless someone who knows tells you exactly where to go) and would be happy to tell you anything I know.  But help me narrow it down.....what are you interested in finding out about?  Tell me--places?  Types of food?  I need an idea where to begin.

I also have extensive knowledge of the great food (not to mention breathtaking landscape) of Asturias--will you be passing through there?

I'm so glad you responded, though this wasn't my post. I'm headed to Portugal soon. Will be in Lisbon and area, as well as Porto, and places in between. Big city recommendations? (I'll be in the Algarve too, but under someone else's planning.) Some time, wherever the wind (and public transportation) takes me - so any must sees/eats? Moderate (not necessarily cheap) preferred, but $$$ for the real deal.

Thanks!

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Since I lived in Lisbon, I know that town the best. Pardon me if this gets wordy, but at least you'll definitely know what you're getting into! The consistently best kitchen I found in Lisbon is a bit tricky to find, but worth the trouble: A Coutada (Rua de Bempostinha, 18). It's near the Campo dos Martires do Patria, which is easily reached by the No. 100 bus from Praça da Figueira or Cais do Sodré...from, there it's best to ask, as the side streets go off in odd directions. Everything is good....check the pratos do dia (daily specials) first, and if they have the chicken cabidela, grab it (best version of the dish I ever tasted anywhere, including the north), although it will most likely be masking under the picturesque name "frango á tripeirinho". Usually there will be a rice dish special, like an arroz de marisco, arroz de polvo, arroz de corvina (firm-fleshed white fish--can't remember the English equivalent), or arroz de pato (duck rice). One the house specialties is balchão de gambas--a Goa-inspired sort of creamy curry of shrimp served in a green pepper with rice (they also do this with chicken). Also, sensational grilled meats on huge skewers--I particularly like the thick pork tenderloins wrapped in bacon, served with arroz de feijão. You'll really have to work to spend more than $20 a head here. Closed Sundays.

O Coreto de Carnide--also consistently excellent (R. Neves Costa, 57). Take the metro to Carnide, cross the busy road and take the side road up the hill--it's right there. "Coreto" is the Portuguese word for a gazebo-shaped bandstand, and sure enough, there's one right there in the quiet praça, where they have tables set up in nice weather. They have a spectacular sopa de peixe (fish soup, chock full of chunks of various fish--best I had in Portugal). And definitely order a Chouriça assada (yes, it's feminine here) as an appetizer....they toss it on the charcoal grill--a little bread, a little red wine--perfection. One of the more fun specialties is Naco na pedra--a nice hunk of good-quality beef (I don't know my cuts very well....top round, maybe?) brought to you on a hot stone slab, where you cut off slices and cook them yourself, with 3 or 4 side sauces for dipping. Leite creme is good here.

A Cabrita (R. Cândido dos Reis, 87--Cacilhas)--I think it would be a shame to go to Lisboa and not take one of the ferries across the river...in summer, it's wonderful. And what better reason to do it than to have some good food while you're on the other side? Cacilhas is chock-full of touristy restaurants for just that purpose, most of them along the water. I suggest skipping those (mostly overpriced, and quality no what it should be) and had up the next street away from the water from the ferry landing, but parallel, past the really touristy, multi-language menu joints and look for A Cabrita on your left. On Sunday, they have a killer bacalhau com natas (one of my favorite ways to eat bacalhau, soaked and shredded, then made into a gratin with potatoes, onions and cream, and baked in the oven), good Sopa alentejana (the bread-garlic-poached egg-cilantro soup), great grilled chocos (cuttlefish), and, if in season, the best sardinhas assadas I ever had in a sit-down restaurant there. They used to be closed on Thursdays. Cheap.

Oh, man....so much wonderful food and so many places...

In the Bairro Alto....I recommend the Restaurante Fidalgo (in the Rua da Barocca), and next door is a fabulous pastry shop (Casa de Matilde), perfect for a merenda (late-afternoon snack). Try the salgados....pastéis de massa tenra, folhados de carne, empadas de galinha. Directly across the street from these is a restaurant, the name of which I can't remember, but is notable for its game specialties--javalí (wild boar), lebre (hare), and venison. A Portuguese fellow whose English was excellent (but wasn't quite up on his slang) once told how much he enjoyed the "hare pie" there (the empada de lebre IS delicious....). Bota Alta is good, and quite well known, so it tends to be difficult to get into. In Rua Diário de Noticias is Restuarante Vá e Volte, a very unprepossessing joint with excellent, cheap food (try the ervilhas com ovos escalfados--peas stewed with pork, ham, bacon, chouriço, onion, and carrot, garnished with poached eggs, but get it at lunch...the peas are usually mushy by dinnertime. An almost transcendent, homey, comfort dish.). Casa Transmontana is in almost all the guide books, but try to go on Monday for the rancho, a hearty stew of chickpeas, macaroni, chouriço, morcela, farinheira (a sausage made of bread, paprika and garlic) and bacon. Do not go here if you're at all in a hurry--the service can be VERY slow, but just relax into the groove and drink more wine while you're waiting for your food!

I used to live near Graça, a praça just up the hill from the Feira da Ladra (the famous flea market), which has a couple of gems. And as a tourist, it's fun getting there because it's right on the No. 28 eléctrico (electric street car) line...catch it in the Bairro Alto, or better yet, near the Estrela Basilica....it goes through many of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Lisbon. Right on the praça is the Pastelaria Centro Ideal de Graça. I went there every morning (ok, afternoon...) for breakfast, and 5 years later they STILL know my order. If it looks good, it is, and don't forget to try a salgado or two ("salty"--as opposed to sweet--pastries, filled with meat, chicken, or shrimp). They also have particularly good coffee. Tell them the musician who now lives in NYC sent you! Down the hill a bit, past the church in the direction of the castle, is a really excellent family-type restaurant in a building with a prominent blue-tiled wall (it's hard to miss) called A Mourisca. Good Sopa alentejana, really good açorda de gambas (bread stew with shrimp and cilantro...sounds weird, but just try it!. They make the best cabrito assado (roast kid-goat) I tasted in Lisbon , with the possible exception of A Polícia near the Gulbenkian. It's a daily special only, and the day used to be Sunday, but wasn't any more my last trip....it may be Friday or Saturday now. It's well worth finding out, though!

One of my favorite only-in-Lisbon experiences was to eat at a restaurant in the old Arab quarter, the Alfama, called O Pereira de Alfama (Rua Guilherme Braga, 22). It's a quirky place....almost not even a restaurant, more like a bar that looks like it hasn't changed in 70 years, with a small room with a couple of tables with oil-cloth checkered tablecloths and benches in the back. A couple of times, I tried to eat there and they claimed they had no food. A couple of times, it was mysteriously closed (normal closing days are Sunday evening and all day Monday). But IF you can find them open and IF they will cook for you, it's an unforgettable experience. The menu is pretty limited, and confined to the most common, hearty, northern-type specialties: cozido (the Portuguese answer to pot-au-feu, with typical sausages and meats), galinha de cabidela (the chicken-with-giblets-rice-and-blood dish), and feijoada á Transmontana (red beans stewed with the usual suspects: chouriço, morcela, pork, bacon). It's real peasant food, and you'll think you went through a time warp to eat it. It might be worth a call first to find out their current disposition, but get a Portuguese to call for you, because not much English is spoken (Tel. 218 877 421, I think). Dirt cheap.

If you end up going out to Cascais (the train ride along the water is very pleasant), there's a restaurant out there that should not be missed: Ginginha Transmontana (Rua de Alvide, 366). It's a rather long walk from the center of Cascais, so it's best to take a cab (they're cheap)....if there is any question about the address, direct the cab driver to the Largo das Fontainhas. It's a tiny place (best to call ahead and reserve--214 832 655), with décor best described as "funky". When you sit down, they will automatically bring you their house white wine and the house appetizer, mussels that have been steamed with white wine, onions, garlic, chouriço, and bacon. Accept them. They specialize in meats and seafood "grelhado na telha", or grilled on a roofing tile. They set up a piece of terra cotta roofing tile on a salver on which to grill filet mignon the size of a softball, lobster, squid, shrimp, fish, etc. over flaming aguardiente (brandy). When it is brought to the table, garlic butter is liberally applied, and, in the case of seafood, lemon, to douse the flames. They also do a killer chanfana (kid goat stewed with red wine, onions, chouriço). This is the most expensive restuarant I have mentioned....it'll run you about $35-$40 a head, and well worth it. Closed Sundays.

If you want to try the cooking of the Beira Alta region (where a lot of great hearty, peasant-y food comes from) without going to the trouble of going there, your best bet is a restaurante just off the Avenida da Liberdade, in the Rua da Conceição da Glória (don't know the number, but it's about a third of the way up on the left...the doorway is easy to miss!) called O Fumeiro (literally, "the smokehouse"....cured meat products, or enchidos, are integral to this type of cooking). Everything I've had has been good.....here, generally the more rustic and mountain-sounding the dish, the better. I will say the one soup they have, and a couple of the regular dishes, tend to be extremely salty....all the more reason to drink copious amounts of wine, I say. There is a similar restaurant, almost as good, in the Amoreiras shopping center called Restaurante Serra da Estrela.

I don't know Porto so well, although I did visit quite a bit. I had, generally, fewer stand-out great meals, although I found the level of cooking consisitently higher. One place that one could always count on for an outstanding meal was in the first suburb to the north along the coast, Matosinhos, called Marisqeuira Mauritânia. They specialize in seafood, but I also had many spectacular meat dishes....find out what the daily specials are and order what sounds good. You can hardly go wrong there.

North of Porto, in the Minho region, is the town of Ponte de Lima. It's a charming town, as is its sister/rival town up the river a bit, Ponte de Barca. Worth a day trip to see it (especially on market day), but worth a trip from anywhere to eat at A Carvalheira, which is located across the river from the center of Ponte de Lima in the neighborhood called Arcozelo. It's in an old stone house, and the centerpiece of the restaurant is the big stone hearth, where some of the cooking is sometimes done....it's the perfet spot for a warming, winter evening meal. Although everything I tried was superb, the house specialty is pernil de porco assado, or roast pork shoulder (Filipinos, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are quite familiar with this cut), and it is spectacular. Crispy crackling...well, I suppose it's not skin, but fat....on the outside, perfectly tender meat on the inside, accompanied by roasted potatoes and greens (couve, something between cabbage and collard or mustard greens, wilted, then sauteed). The potatoes and greens have so much flavor that it's impossible that they're cooked in simply oil--there's definitely lard working its magic in there. As I recall, one of the other house specialties is arroz de pato (duck with rice, baked in the oven)....I saw some at a neighboring table, and it looked wonderful. I was so intoxicated by the meat and potatoes, I can't remember what else I had (dessert must have been good, but what was it?). At any rate, at about 20 bucks a head, VERY well worth the trip if you're in the vicinity. This place is extremely popular, especially on the weekends, so it would be worth calling ahead (258 742 316).

If you're driving between Lisbon and Porto, DEFINITELY stop in Mealhada (just a few kms. north of Coimbra) and have some lietão (roast suckling pig). The town is justly famous for it, and there are dozens of places to choose from on the main strip. Pedro dos Leitões is generally acknowledged to be the best one.

Luckily, the best food experiences in Portugal do not necessarily mean correspondingly high prices. The hands-down greatest food experience I ever had in Portugal was dirt cheap. Not too far from Mealhada--not far on the map, at least, but there are no highways and the mountain roads are winding (allow 2 to 3 hours from Coimbra)--is a restaurant called "O Albertino". It's in a tiny mountain village called Folgosinho, near Gouveia in the Serra da Estrela. I can't find my notes from the trip (this is serious....), but if memory serves....

When you sit down, you are presented immediately with a plate regional items to nibble on: slices of chouriço, morcela (blood sausage), and queijo da serra (a locally-made soft, runny cheese--truly one of the great cheeses of the world) and a basket of incredible bread. And of course, some of the hearty local red wine. Then the waiter comes around and reels off the four dishes they made that day....as I look torn and bewildered trying to decide, he tosses in the final option "....or a little of everything." It took me about a nano-second to decide upon that one. First came a feijoada de javalí--a stew of pinto beans featuring wild boar as its chief meat ingredient (with, of course, the usual hints of chouriço and bacon for extra dimension). Simple, honest....fantastic! Then came the cabidela de coelho. This is a variation of what is probably my favorite Portuguese dish, galinha de cabidela (galinha is chicken, or more properly, hen, and "cabidela" is a dish made with the giblets and finished with blood), but made with rabbit. Rice is cooked in the rabbit/giblet broth, and blood is added at the end (not too much....it's really not as disgusting as it may sound). Somehow, rabbit blood gives an overall silkier texture to the dish than the more common chicken cabidela has....it was, in a word, wonderful. This was followed by roasted kid goat (cabrito assado), served with small new potatoes that had been roasted along with it. Also delicious, although this was the only dish that was somewhat less than truly spectacular--I've had much better cabrito assado elsewhere in Portugal. The meal completely regained its footing with the final offering, leitão assado (I assume we all know by now that's roast suckling pig). Made on the premises, slightly different than the way it's done in Mealhada, but tender, peppery, with the requisite crackly skin....superb. The meal was capped by the best leite creme I've ever had (and I've had a LOT of them), leite creme being a soft-ish eggy custard, very much like crema catalana, finished with a sprinkling of cinnamon and a burnt sugar crust on top (a la crème brulée, and the real crema catalana). All of this set me back.....are you ready?....about 10 dollars.

If you go, definitely call ahead for a reservation--the restaurant is quite small, and every really serious chowhound in Portugal knows about it. The day I was there, businessmen had driven in just for lunch from both Lisbon AND Porto (luckily, I got there a bit early before the lunch rush, or I would have had to wait at least an hour and a half for a table). The telephone number is 238 745 266 (and they're closed Sunday night and all day Monday).

Edited by Eric_Malson (log)

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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Thank you for that post Eric. Did you like El Gordo in Lisbon?

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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As I live just down the road from the Carvalheira, I'm very happy to recommend it! It's often quite busy, so reservations are recommended, especially at the weekend.

The same priest also has a restaurant on the road between Ponte de Lima and Braga, called Cozinha Velha, which serves some mean piglet. And he has just taken over a restaurant in an excellent site overlooking the river, Marina.

Chloe

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Thank you for that post Eric. Did you like El Gordo in Lisbon?

I never went to El Gordo. I did go to Meson Andaluz once or twice, and realized I was better off eating Spanish food in (relatively nearby) Spain.

A few food experiences I forgot to mention in the previous post.... if one is based in Lisbon and has a car one should definitely take a trip to Arruda dos Vinhos (take the A1 highway from Lisbon, in the direction of Porto, and exit at Alverca. From there, follow the signs to Arruda dos Vinhos--the trip takes about half an hour from Lisbon). Arruda has an outstanding restaurant called O Fuso. There are two specialties of the house that make it well worth the trip from Lisbon: bacalhau grilled over a wood fire (with liberal amounts of garlic, then doused in olive oil) and, my favorite, costela de vaca--a huge....what do you call it?....rib chop of beef, also grilled over the wood fire in the huge stone hearth in the center of the restaurant (remember the beginning of the Flintstones cartoon, at the drive-in? This rib chop reminds you a bit of that....). A grilled chouriço to start, and you're in heaven. The restaurant is easy to find, right on the main drag in the center of the town.

Also about a half-hour-to-forty-five-minute drive from Lisbon, due north along the A8 toward Torres Vedras is a restaurant I think is truly special. It's in an old, low, stone house (which I'm sure was once a quinta) and has that unmistakable aura of "local tradition" about it....in the back, there is a porch, surrounded by grape vines, with tables....perfect for a summer afternoon. The best reason to go here: their specialty, kid goat roasted in a wood oven, served bubbling in it's own juices in a clay casserole with small roasted new potatoes. This, in turn, is served with one of the most delicious side dishes I have ever taste--the rice. But it's not just any rice....it's rice that has been cooked in the drippings and juices of the kid goat and its giblets (do goats have giblets?), which reduces to a thick, concentrated sauce. In a way, it's like in intense, meaty and smoky risotto, but the most amazing risotto I've ever had (and I love risotto to begin with). This nirvana can be experienced at the restaurant "O Labrêgo" in a "town" (more like a wide spot in the road) called Feliteira, which is a few kilometers south of Dois Portos, which in turn is just south of Torres Vedras. It's not directly accessible from the highway--have a good map handy.

Another great day/evening meal trip form Lisbon is to go to Almeirim (take the A1 highway to Santarém, and it's just across the river). Almeirim is famous for its "sopa da pedra", a traditional soup that evolved from the old "stone soup" legend (and sure enough, in most restaurants, each serving of soup comes with its own polished stone in the bottom of the bowl!). It's a hearty red-bean based soup foritified with potatoes and the usual suspects--chouriço, morcela, and bacon. The best place in town to sample this is the restaurant O Toucinho. The other specialty here is grilled meats (which they do over charcoal), of which the best is a sort of thick lamb chop, but cut in a way I have never seen anywhere else, the name of which I can't for the life of me remember. Just ask which it is--it's the most popular one. The bread is also spectacularly delicious here. The restaurant is a bit tricky to find if you don't know where you're going. Just go to the bull ring, then ask someone for directions.

I think it's time for another trip to Portugal soon.....

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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Wow Eric I'm sated just reading that. Did you eat interesting places (or food in them :blink: ) in Sintra? I love that little town, not far from Lisbon, but there I mostly ate fresh grilled fish on the beach. What else could you want?

Two things I will never forget in the Algarve include a visit to Silves, the Moorish palace, and a restaurant called Vila Lisa Adega, in Mexilhoeira Grande. (tel 082/ 9 64 78 or 79 94 79) No menu here: just a rustic old joint where one comes for dinner and sits down to roughly eight courses of divinely inspired pork and its accoutrements.

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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eric i myself have been preety swamped with life and haven't had a chance to check this post out. I thought everyone gave up on me actually. But as soon as i get a chance i will review everything and we will be in contact asap. Thanks so much for everything.

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Either the Iberian peninsula has not drawn the gastronomic tourist, or eGullet has drawn those gastronomes who have traveled on their stomachs in Spain and Portugal. The third possibility is that they're all here waiting for the catalyst posts that will unleash the responses we're waiting to read. There have been posts explaining why Spain does not see the kind of gourmet tourist that France sees. Even this is changing in at least two corners of Spain--the Basque region and Catalonia. In both of these areas, we now find some of the foremost chefs working in the mode of haute cuisine. Unfortunately, or fortunately for some diners, there is not the network of fine inns offering great food to support the kind of touring that's popular in France.

I'm probably repeating myself, but Spain may have more to discover at the unstarred level of dining than France where food is a high art, but the daily cooking has suffered in the last half of the 20th century. It hit and miss and one man's rustic food is another man's heavy and dull food. On the other hand, some of my lesser experiences have been when a second rate chef put on airs. Look for that cuisine grandmere cooking. Sorry I revert to French whenever I talk about food. I suppose it's cocina abuela you should seek out. Casa Teo, in San Andres de Rabanedo just west of Leon was such a place. Although we didn't see the kitchen, we had the distinct impression it was the owner's mother or wife doing all the cooking. An empanada de bacalao right out of the oven was superb and I took the owner's suggestion of fresh sole a la plancha. My wife has tripe. For dessert it was arroz con leche which my notes describe as rice flan brulée--a rice custard with a burnt sugar top. I don't think it's listed in the Michelin guide and they didn't take credit cards. It was in 1999, so I don't know how it is today.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Finally, a trip to Portugal in the works. A week in the Algarve is fairly well planned, but there is another week or so to enjoy Lisbon and the area, and Porto, if all goes well. Food, restaurant, and lodging recommendations for early spring most appreciated!

Has your trip happened yet?

If not, where did you decide to go? I could put in my 2 cents if it would do you any good.

If so, how about a report? Enquiring minds want to know!

BTW, Chloe....have you eaten in Tromba Rija? 4 years of living in Portugal and I never managed to eat there, although I always wanted to.

Edited by Eric_Malson (log)

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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BTW, Chloe....have you eaten in Tromba Rija? 4 years of living in Portugal and I never managed to eat there, although I always wanted to.

Unfortunately not. I had friends who used to live in Leiria but didn't manage to get to Tromba Rija while they were still there.

For the curious (and Portuguese readers):

http://www.trombarija.com/

Chloe

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Quick translation of the menu from the Tromba Rija website.

You can either eat all you can from the Starters and Desserts or, paying a bit more, you can have a main course as well.

Starters

Salt cod salad

Chickpea salad

Butter beans

Ling roe

Fritada (fried pork)

Tomato rice

Tuna salad

Stuffed eggs with parsley

Fried caul

Fried pork belly

Cold roast beef

Brawn

Young pork belly

Fish salad

Poultry hearts

Gizzards

"Mountain oysters"

Fried sardines

Fried horse mackerel

Ham

Melon

Quail eggs

Mixed salads

"Bread meat pie"

Octopus

Wild mushrooms

Mushrooms

Roast stuffed pig's stomach

Boiled stuffed pig's stomach

Pigs' ears

Courgettes

Black-eyed beans

Roast peppers

Pork trotters

Gaspacho

Little cuttlefish

Spinach with pine nuts

Broad beans

Asparagus tart

Cheese with prunes

Aubergine

Cream of pumpkin soup

etc. etc. etc.

Next (One of the following dishes) every day

Grilled salt cod

"Spiritual" salt cod (pureed, with carrots etc)

Stuffed squid

Tiger prawns

Fresh fish

Stewed partridge with savoy cabbage

Wild duck with mushroom sauce

Pork loin with prune stuffing

Medieval-style rabbit

Grilled pork ribs

Lamb chops

Special beef loin

Alentejo pork loin

Daily dishes

Tuesday - Roast duck

Wednesday - Tromba Rija - Special bean stew

Thursday - Roast kid

Friday - Ti Rosária's Fritada (fried pork)

Saturday - Cozido (Portuguese boiled dinner) in bread (on request)

Others dishes on request

Interval

Natural lemon sorbet

Cheese

Serra

Serpa

Niza

Ovelheiro (ewe's milk)

Azeitão

Castelo Branco

Requeijão (ricotta)

etc.

Fruit (Except those not available seasonally)

Figs

Grapes

Kiwifruit

Pineapple

Peach

Strawberries

Plums

Lichis

Papaya

Guava

Mango

Physalis

Sweetsop

Kumquats

Carambola

Cherries

etc.

Desserts Papos de anjo

Rice pudding

Pumpkin pudding

Toucinho do céu

Apple sweet

Migas doces (egg and milk dessert)

Chocolate mousse

Doce de cenoura com ovos moles (Carrot sweet with eggy sauce)

Charcada (caramelised egg dessert)

Burnt cream

Vermicelli pudding

Lime cake

Pumpkin compote (??)

Meringues

Doce de Natas

Floating islands

Dried fruit and nuts

Raisins

Walnuts

Peanuts

Hazelnuts

Almonds

Dried figs

Digestifs

Port

Brandies

Bitter almond liqueur

Coffee

Pure Arabica

Bom apetite

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  • 2 weeks later...
Has your trip happened yet?

If so, how about a report?  Enquiring minds want to know!

Boa tarde!

Just back, thanks for asking. I need to cull some highlights from my notes and will post.

Food and wine were very good, plentiful, and inexpensive. Missed so much, but managed to try an awful lot too.

Traversed from Oporto (and Mirandela) to Coimbra, Lisboa (and Sintra), and Tavira, Querenca, Lagos, and Sangres.

Saude!

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