Portugal is a great destination for foodies, especially seafood lovers. The Portuguese coast supplies some of the freshest fish and seafood in the world and fish is the star of many dishes in the country’s gastronomical scene (surely you have heard about “Bacalhau”).
Clams, oysters, mussels, lobster, squid and a plethora of Atlantic fish are up for grabs on a summer’s evening in one of Portugal’s Marisqueiras (seafood restaurants) where you can enjoy the grilled catch of the day and a chilled glass of vinho verde. These types of restaurants, which range from humble beach shacks, indoor market stalls to impressive Michelin-starred venues, can be found across the country and are in massive demand during the summer season.
In terms of cooking and presentation, the Portuguese like to stick to their culinary traditions, so don’t expect too many avant-garde interpretations of classic fish dishes. Typically, fish is often served grilled, in addition to being fried, stewed and occasionally roasted. However, Portugal is known for reinventing the wheel when it comes to “Bacalhau” and it is said that there are more than 365 ways to cook cod, one for every day of the year! You can also find some more unusual combinations such as pork and clams (Carne de porco à alentejana), but regardless of what you order, you can expect the freshest, highest quality seafood in Europe today.
If you are looking for the best places to eat seafood in Portugal, just keep reading because you have the inside scoop on the hotspots across the country.
Best in Oporto
On the outskirts of the city centre, O Gaveto is worth taking a detour to visit. Family run and owned for over 30 years, O Gaveto is one of the friendliest restaurants in Oporto, welcoming both regulars and newcomers into its fold. Their mantra is very simple: only serving the freshest catch of the day, in addition to live shellfish from their nearby tank, and it has converted them into one of the finest seafood restaurants in the country. In this restaurant, whatever dish you choose will be fresh, delicious and perfectly cooked and the owner, Manuel Pinheiro, looks forward to welcoming you soon!
- Address: R. Roberto Ivens 826, 4450-250 Matosinhos, Portugal
- Website: www.ogaveto.com
One of Oporto’s most famous rustic restaurants, Chez Lapin is famous for its fantastic home-cooking and its impressive collection of memorabilia. You can find almost anything hanging from its ceiling and walls, including lanterns, musical instruments, and antique clocks! The secret to this restaurant’s success is very straightforward: honest, hearty cooking and great local wines in a fun, lively setting. Diners can enjoy a mix of traditional and unusual dishes, such as salt cod with octopus, a local fish stew, grilled sea bass, and turbot fillets
- Address: R. dos Canastreiros 40-42, 4050-149 Porto, Portugal
- Website: www.douroacima.pt
Portucale is all about fine dining but its views alone are worth the price. The restaurant is situated atop Oporto’s famous Albergaria Miradouro (clock tower) and offers spectacular views of the city. However, the food certainly doesn’t take on a supporting role to the magnificent view; the restaurant serves a wide variety of exquisite fish dishes, with a distinctly international take on regional classics. The restaurant has also the distinction of boasting a particularly large and diverse offering of wines, with plenty of imported wines.
Best in Lisbon
A legend when it comes to the quality and freshness of its seafood, Ramiro has been keeping bellies satisfied since the 1950s. The secret to its success is very simple: an abundance of delicious, fresh seafood, served at fair prices. Here you can have some of the very best tiger prawns, lobster, clams and salt cod in Portugal accompanied by delicious white wine. There’s nothing not to like, although be prepared to queue at busy periods as Ramiro does not take bookings.
If you are looking for exquisite fish, and particularly shellfish, you must go to Gambrinus. The restaurant has been open since the 1930s and its fame is still going strong. Here you will dine in a wood-panelled beer hall, tended to by an army of professional, courteous and charming staff. The ambience here is much more relaxed which makes it more appealing to an older crowd. Make sure you try the lobster stew, shellfish casserole, steamed clams, and lobster bisque. Also, the wine list is also one of Lisbon’s best; diverse, well-priced and boasting an extensive collection of fine vintage ports.
One of the most reliable places in Lisbon is Cervejaria Ribadouro which serves up plates and plates of every conceivable type of seafood and fresh fish. This bustling bar venue gets seriously busy in the evenings and on weekends, so if you want to experience the place with a more relaxed ambiance, it pays to arrive early. But don’t worry, any waiting time will be worth it once you try the freshest seafood around. And, what should you order? It’s very simple: order a glass of chilled white, select your live fish from the onsite tank and it will soon appear, perfectly cooked and seasoned. An unmissable stop on any foody's itinerary in Lisbon.
Sea Me is one of Lisbon’s top seafood restaurants that lures you inside with the promise of both traditional grilled fish dishes and sophisticated takes on the seaside classics. So, you can either play it safe and order an abundant variety of different grilled fish dishes or explore the more international options, like a shrimp risotto or a Thai Green Curry with scallops and clams. The wine list is another gem; packed full of delicious, zesty whites from across Portugal. Book ahead, particularly in the summer months when the restaurant is very busy.
Best in the Algarve
Rei das Praias
If you are looking for the perfect place to spend a summer evening, head on over to Rei das Praias, a gorgeous wooden terrace on the beach that offers beautiful views of the ocean and an eclectic menu with both simple grilled fish dishes and more inventive combinations. As always, for the absolute perfect order, we recommend you try the catch of the day. There is also a classy wine list, which extends its reach far beyond the local area and includes some particularly fine bottles for a special occasion. When it comes to romantic experiences, you will find everything you ever dreamed of right here.
The Algarve’s classiest address, Ocean is one of the few restaurants in Portugal to hold more than 1 Michelin-star. Its well-dressed clientele travels far and wide to sample head chef Hans Neuner’s inventive take on Portuguese gastronomy. Located in an elegant hotel dining room, there are lovely sea views and a professional and slick service. But obviously you won’t want to come here for the service, you will want to come for the award-winning tasting menus, where sublime fish dishes usually feature heavily. On the 6-course taster menu, you could start with Violet prawn, followed by John Dory with burned artichoke, or perhaps scorpion fish and baby squid. Wine lovers will drool over the extensive wine list, with local options and fine vintages from France, Spain and beyond. Treat yourself in this beautiful venue.
For over 20 years, Boia has been one of the Algarve’s most popular and relaxed seafood bar/restaurants. From the perfectly appointed al fresco terrace to the delectable grilled fish dishes, which were caught only hours earlier, the formula of this restaurant has everything you need for a perfect meal. Take a seat on the terrace, order a cool glass of Alentejo white and search the menu for sardines, oysters, sea bass, bream and sole, which are grilled over charcoal and seasoned with a healthy pinch of Flor de sal, just as local culinary tradition insists. Friendly service and fair prices make the experience even sweeter. The only problem is that you’ll never want to leave!