Month: November 2021

On Madeira’s wilder north coast, the towns, villages and restaurants tend to be further apart and fewer in number. But for the bolder traveller, there’s an unmissable opportunity to sample some of the best traditional Madeiran cuisine.

Here’s our guide on where to eat on Madeira in the north.

 

#01 – In the distant north west corner of Madeira, you’ll find the small hamlet of Porto Moniz. The atmosphere is laid-back and lazy, whilst the ocean backdrop is by turns calming and menacing (depending on the time of year). It’s an area most tourists never see, which is a shame as it’s seawater swimming pools are some of the best on the island. For Madeirans, it’s a popular spot for a day trip in the summer, which is reflected in the dishes served throughout the village’s restaurants:  fresh ingredients, no-frills, big portions and big flavours.

Restaurante Orca is a prime example – conveniently placed next door to the Piscinas Naturais, it offers a traditional menu: bife de Atum (tuna steak), gambas a diablo (spicey prawns), prego no bolo do caco (steak sandwich), grilled lapas (limpets), Polvo (octopus) salad, milho frito. If you’re not swimming, a table on the terrace is arguably the best lunchtime view in Porto Moniz.

Where to eat on Madeira

#02 – On a busy summer’s day, the Conchinha Bar is often a quieter lunchtime option than Orca. It’s a small café serving sandwiches, salads and soups – and a superb maracuja (passion fruit) cheesecake.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#03 – If you’re staying in Porto Moniz for a few nights, the sea view restaurant at the Hotel Aqua Natura has a more European-style menu, with a lean towards Italian: risotto Milanese, shellfish linguini, tiramisu – with a scattering of Madeiran: espada (scabbard fish), bacalhau (salted cod) and bife pimento. A table on the terrace is tempting, but it can be a little cramped and breezy in the evenings.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#04 – Our favourite restaurant in Porto Moniz is the Polo Norte. Well-prepped home-style cooking, (particularly their beef espetada), an excellent selection of reasonably priced (but well-selected) Portuguese wines, and a friendly and hospitable team. Being land-locked, the Polo Norte can’t match the sea views their contemporaries in the town offer – but the upstairs terrace is pleasantly sociable in the evenings.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#04 – If you’re thinking of driving inland from Porto Moniz – maybe to ride Europe’s steepest cable car at Achadas da Cruz – Rodripan is a hidden lunchtime gem. This tiny family Padaria (bakery) was frustratingly difficult to find in the days before Google maps. As you pass through the village of Santa Maria Madalena, look out for a weathered-yellow Padaria Pastelaria sign – take the left turn as indicated, head up the small lane and Rodripan is in a residential house set back from the road on your left.

Rodripan pasteis de nata, bolo do aroz (similar to US-style muffins but made with rice flour), super-light pineapple puff pastries and savoury pasties. It’s better to get their early if you’d like a fresh loaf of bread; otherwise it’s a good option for a last-chance coffee stop before you drive up onto the Paul da Serra.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#05 – Back on the coast: driving east out of Porto Moniz, you’ll pass by many of the island’s most-famous natural monuments – the Ilheus da Riberia da Jenela sea stacks, the Ribeira do Inferno river gorge, and the Casacata Veu da Noiva: the Bridal Veil waterfall. In-between, you might like to take a detour down into the pretty seaside village of Seixal, popular for it’s beach and sheltered seawater lagoon.

Food-wise, Las Carabaibas is easily missed but well-worth a stop. Approaching from the direction of Porto Moniz, take a left at the first ‘Ben-Vindo (Welcome to) Seixal’ sign and the restaurant is on your right. They have a limited menu, but in a good way – sticking with the dishes they do best. Their speciality is Bacalhau Verde (baked cod gratin, with spinach and coriander),their gambas soup served in a loaf of home-made bread is pretty epic (especially for lunch), and occasionally they’ll serve a fantastic slow-cooked Iberian pork stew.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#06 – Pass through the centre of Seixal to it’s small harbour, and you’ll find the Lounge Bar Clube Naval do Seixel. You won’t find any surprise on the menu, just good Madeiran food in big portions, served with a big smile by owner Ernesto. The bar’s popular with surfers, kayakers, climbers and mountain bikers, and Seixal beach is just a minute’s walk away.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#07 – Roughly half-way along the north coast, you’ll come to Sao Vicente. The town itself extends inland and upwards, following the Ribeira Sao Vicente river valley towards the high peaks in the centre of the island. There’s a glut of restaurants down here on the coast and they’re all very similar in style, menus and service – it’s also a popular lunch spot for coach tours so timing is everything. The Caravela and Vila Vincente both have 1st floor terraces on a nice day, whilst the Xapa Grill would be my choice if the weather’s more wind-swept.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#08 – If you’re looking for a takeaway rather than a sit-down meal, the Corvopan bakery serves freshly-baked bread, rolls and sandwiches, Maderian cakes and pastries.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#09 – if you’re overnighting in Sao Vicente, the Quebramar has the best sea views and is arguably serves the best Caldo da Romaria – or Pilgrimage soup. It’s a hearty beef and potato broth, which sustained religious pilgrims during their walks from the capital Funchal, over the central mountains to Sao Vicente’s Igreja Mariz de Vila Franca da Serra church in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Built in the 1980s, the upper floor of the restaurant rotates anticlockwise very slowly – it’s not quite as bad as it sounds, but there are none-rotating tables downstairs.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#10 – Head 100m up the inland road and you’ll come to the Taberna de Sao Vicente. It’s a typical Portuguese taberna with all the usual suspects appearing on the menu – bacalhau, bife espetada, milho fritas, cold local Coral lager, reasonably-priced mainland wines.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#11 – High on the opposite side of the valley, overlooking the pretty chapel at Pico da Cova, you’ll find the Quinta do Barbusano vineyards. Owner Tito Brazao and his team offer guided tours of their fifteen-acre terraced vineyards. Verdelho is the dominant grape variety on the island, together with Aragones which has its roots in Alentejo and the white Arnsburger (similar a Reisling). Heading from the terraces to the winery itself, there’s a chance to sample the Quinta’s wines, with petiscos (Portuguese tapas) and a panoramic view of the Ribeira Sao Vicente valley.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#12 – Another more-central option in Sao Vicente itself – particularly if you’re staying at the Estalagem do Vale, Solar da Bica or Casa da Piedade is the Restaurante Lavrador. Friendly, family-run, well-presented and tasty food, all with a majestic mountain view – what’s not to like? Also, they serve cook-your-own beef and tuna steaks on a hot stone, and there’s home-made bolo de mel on the dessert menu.

A few practicalities to add: Lavrador isn’t huge so booking ahead is recommended, (particularly for a table on the terrace). Estalagem do Vale is just a five-minute walk away – but if you’re staying at Bica or Piedade a (five-minute) taxi is more practical, as you’re crossing the valley (and the roads invariably don’t have pavements).

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#13 –Back down to the coast, the breath-taking scenery continues as the road zig-zags through the villages of Ponta Delgada, Boaventura and Arco de Sao Jorge. This area of the island is home to some of Madeira’s more-challenging levada trails – if you’re looking to refuel after a day’s hike, the Restaurante Corte do Norte & Restaurante Sao Cristovao are good options. Both restaurants are very popular with locals – the Sao Cristovao serves a great fish stew and has the best (sea cliff) view during the day, but it’s a bit more of a detour from the main road.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#14 – If you’re staying at Solar Boaventura, both Corte do Norte and Sao Cristovao are a short taxi/drive away in the evenings. If you’d prefer not to drive, Penalti is the closest option on foot. It’s a small bar-cum-restaurant serving home-style cooking at a reasonable price – nice sticky chicken and their pizzas are pretty good. Space in the covered area at the front is limited, particularly at weekends – Madeirans tend to eat late in theevening so you’re usually okay around 7-8pm.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#15 – Continuing east, the Restaurante Arco is the dictionary definition of a Madeiran restaurant. Espetada, scabbard fish, bife a casa: tick. Tasty home-style cooking, big sides of rice and chips, great wines at a reasonable price: tick. Popular with locals, super-sociable and super-friendly: tick. Also, one of the island’s lesser-known viewpoints is just nearby: the Miradouro da Beira da Quinta.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#16 – Our most-popular hotel in the north east is Quinta do Furao on the outskirts of Santana. The hotel’s own Restaurante Quinta do Furao is popular with guests and locals alike. It’s open-plan layout is nicely sociable, with a sea view terrace in the summer and a cosy log fire for winter evenings. Their menu is one of the most-interesting on the island: Terrina de Rabo de Boi (Oxtail tureen with Madeiran red wine), Bochecha de Vaca estufada (slow-cooked beef cheek with smoked bacon and mushrooms), Risotto de Trigo (with local mushrooms, hazelnuts and Madeiran cheese), and Bife Legumes Caldeirão Verde (a seasonal vegetable stew, with puff pastry and a Roquefort sauce).

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#17 – If you can tear yourself away from the quinta, the centre of Santana is a five-minute taxi ride away. The Restaurante o Colmo, Estrela do Norte and the Caldeirao Verde are all pretty similar in terms of menu, price and service – although I’d avoid lunchtime visits when the coach tours descend. At the southern-end of town, lookout for Marcel’s Bistro: it has a relaxing-vibe (thanks in no small part to owner Marcel), and an enjoyable menu for lovers of prawns, bacalhau and first-rate cocktails.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

 

Our Where to eat guides are based on our first-hand experience and our love of great Portuguese cuisine:

Where to eat in Funchal

Where to eat on Madeira – the south

Where to eat on Madeira – the east

Where to eat in Ponta Delgada

Where to eat on Sao Miguel – Sete Cidades and the west

Where to eat on Sao Miguel – the north coast

Where to eat on Sao Miguel – Furnas and the east

Where to eat on Sao Miguel – the south coast

Where to eat in Angra

Where to eat on Terceira

Where to eat on Flores, Corvo and Santa Maria

Where to eat in Lisbon

Archipelago Choice Madeira Specialists

We specialise in personalised holidays to Madeira and Porto Santo. If you’d like to talk to one of our experts on the best time to visit Madeira, just give us a call on 017687 721070 or drop us a line via our Enquiry Form.

Madeira’s sunny south is the best place to eat like the locals, with the locals.

Here’s our handy guide on where to eat on Madeira in the south.

 

#01 – The harbour town of Camara da Lobos is the up-and-coming place to live for Funchal’s commuter set due to it’s proximity to the capital, it’s south-coast location and it’s sunny micro-climate. It’s cafebars and restaurants could be accused of playing catch-up on the more modern, Lisbon-leaning chefs in Funchal – whereas we often feel their traditional-Madeiran menus are a big part of their appeal.

Casa do Farol is a good example – just a few short steps from the old harbour front, their seasonal menu and simple preparation allows the fresh local fish to shine. Their Gambas a Diablio (deviled prawns) are a particular favourite, as is their own home-made ice cream. They also host live music, including Fado evenings – check their Facebook page for any upcoming events.

Where to eat in south west Madeira

Where to eat in south west Madeira

#02 – The Taberna Dos Lobos is just across the street. Historically, tabernas served wines and spirits with some petiscos (small dishes/snacks) served across the bar. Nowadays, they serve more substantial meals: locally-caught pargo (Red Snapper), black scabbard, lapas and octopus. If tables are available (and if you don’t mind a small surcharge), the upstairs terrace has a nice view of the harbour, and is a cooler option if you’re escaping the midday sun.

Where to eat in south west Madeira

Where to eat in south west Madeira

#03 – Head up the Rua Sao Joao de Deus and you’ll come to Deserta Pequena – a restaurant with more of a modern/Funchal slant to their Madeiran dishes, with a few pasta and risotto options on the menu. Leave room for their Volcao de Chocolate desert.

Where to eat in south west Madeira

Where to eat in south west Madeira

#04 –The restaurant with arguably the best view in Camara da Lobos is the Pier One Grill Terrace. Pier One is part of the Pestana Churchill Bay – one of Madeira’s newest hotels – and is open to non-residents. As you’d expect from a Pestana, the standard is high across their a la carte menu – particularly their take on black scabbard, served with a banana and passion fruit coulis.

Where to eat in south west Madeira

Where to eat in south west Madeira

#05 -Away from the harbour, two of the town’s most-popular restaurants are in the modern Pingo Doce development on Rua Doutor Joao Abel de Freitas. Restaurante Vila do Peixe has a big, bright warehouse feel with its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bay. Select your own fish from the open kitchen, and watch it being prepped and cooked over hot coals. Vila do Peixe is also one of the better options in Camara do Lobos for vegans, veggies and gluten-free diets.

Where to eat in south west Madeira

Where to eat in south west Madeira

#06 – Sister-restaurants Vila do Peixe and the Restaurante Vila Da Carne next door mirror each other in décor and service, with the latter very much focussed on meat. Again, there’s an open kitchen with cooking over hot coals – producing some of the best espetada on the island.

Where to eat in south west Madeira

Where to eat in south west Madeira

#07 – Continuing west along the coast, you might like to take a short detour in land to the Taberna da Poncha. The tavern is one of Madeira’s most-popular bars and owes it’s ‘infamy’ to one of the island’s most-popular drinks. Poncha is a traditional alcoholic drink made with Madeiran sugar cane rum – the classic recipe mixed rum with honey and lemon juice , but maracuja (passion fruit) juice is also very popular. It’s a quirky little locals bar which is often included in guided tours of the island – you’ll see the walls and roof beams are decorated with a mosaic of banknotes, business card and football scarves left past visitors, and the floor is covered in peanut shells (no idea why that tradition started).

Where to eat in south west Madeira

Where to eat in south west Madeira

#08 – The secluded seafront village of Ponta do Sol is popular with locals and tourist alike for it’s bright, sunny microclimate. If you’re visiting for the day, the Restaurante Sol Poente is an excellent option for lunch. Sitting on a promontory by the Cais da Ponta do Sol footbridge, the ocean view from the small balcony is wonderful (although table space it limited). Good for fresh seafood and friendly service. If you’re staying in the village, be sure to snap-up a balcony table at least once: to enjoy one of Ponta do Sol’s legendary sunsets.

Where to eat in south west Madeira

#09 – Speaking of sunsets – arguably the best place to mark the end of the day is the restaurant at the Estalagem Ponta do Sol. Perched high on it’s cliff top overlooking the village, the Estalagem is one of our favourite hotels on the island. Their excellent restaurant has a modern-Madeiran menu and is open to non-guests – and the garden terrace is perfect for toasting the blazing brilliance of a mid-summer sunset.

Where to eat in south west Madeira

Where to eat in south west Madeira

#10 – Down in the centre of Ponta do Sol, the village has a nice selection of family-run restaurants. The Old Pharmacy (opposite the Igreja Ponta do Sol) serves interesting and appetizing petiscos (tapas) and be sure to check their chef’s specials.

Where to eat in south west Madeira

Where to eat in south west Madeira

#11 The Small House is just next door to The Old Pharmacy. Size isn’t everything – this beer house is undeniably small, but it’s a friendly locals’ spot serving craft beers, ciders, rum and whisky from across Europe.

Where to eat on Madeira

#12 – Leaving Ponta do Sol behind and heading west along the coast, you’ll come to the harbour town of Calheta.

Where to eat on Madeira

It’s sheltered beach and marina are a welcome-alternative to the much larger harbour in Funchal. There’s a friendly, laid-back atmosphere which is matched by the warm welcome you’ll receive in the cafebars and restaurants overlooking the marina. The Leme Marisqueira, the Restaurante Essencia do Atlantico and the Marina Azul Restaurante all sit directly on the marina – arguably the Leme just has the edge on service but they all have similar, traditional-style Madeiran menus with a focus on fish. Their location means they’re pretty busy during the day, but tend to be quieter in the evenings when the day-trippers head home to Funchal – if you’re staying in or around Calheta, I’d recommend reserving a table in advance.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#13 – Also in Calheta, the understated Restaurante Beira Mar might not have the marina-front location but they tend to be the restaurant of choice for locals – particularly for their polvo (octopus) and grilled lapas (limpets).

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#14 – The Manifattura di Gelato is also worth a special mention – if you’ve any fussy eaters in the family, the Gelato’s pizzas, fresh pasta and (of course) ice cream are all excellent. They also mix a mean Mojito.

Where to eat on Madeira

#15 – As you leave Calheta, lookout for one of the island’s few surviving rum distilleries at Engenho da Calheta (on your left as you head uphill, away from the marina). Perhaps better known for its fortified wines, Madeira also produces white rum from local sugar cane. The distillery itself is a fascinating, living museum using 19th Century engineering and production methods. A happy by-product of the rum production process is the leftover Molasse, which is the key ingredient in one of Madeira’s oldest delicacies: Bolo de Mel. It’s a deliciously dark, sticky sponge cake filled with walnuts, almonds and spiced with cinnamon.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#16 – Taking a detour inland to the village of Prazeres – the Restaurante Chico and the XS Café are quiet lunch spots, well-away from the ususal tourist hotspots. The nearby Quinta Pedagógica dos Prazeresa is a family-owned small holding and school farm which produces it’s own preserves and liqueurs from their own herbarium and orchard. Worth a visit for the fruit teas served in their tearoom.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#17 – Returning to the coast, a tight switch-backing road will bring you down to the fishing village of Paul do Mar. Before the road arrived in the 1960s, Paul do Mar was only accessible by boat or via the steep cobbled path which zig-zags down the sea cliffs (and requires a good head for heights). The village is still popular for it’s fresh seasonal fish, although it does get tend to get invaded by guided tours around lunchtime. The Bay Side is my favourite, overlooking the harbour at the southern-end of the village, (and if possible, grab a table outside or on the small 1st floor balcony). Calhau’s Beach Bar does a nice Octopus stew and their terrace is right by the ocean. At the northern end of Paul do Mar, the Restaurante Sol e Mar is typically Portuguese: local dishes and big portions.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#18 – Approaching the west coast of the island and the village of Ponta do Pargo, look out for the Restaurante O Forno (on your right as you reach the far-end of the village, just before the big roundabout). Great for pork espetadas and steaks cooked over a wood fire, and there’s always something interesting on their specials board.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

#19 – Heading out of the village towards the most-westerly point on Madeira, the Ponta do Pargo lighthouse, you’ll come to the island’s most-westerly restaurant: O Farol. It’s remote location makes it a popular lunch spot with fly/drive tourists ticking the lighthouse off their must-see lists. Typically, the specials board has the edge on the regular menu and they serve excellent soups.

Where to eat on Madeira

Where to eat on Madeira

 

Our Where to eat guides are based on our first-hand experience and our love of great Portuguese cuisine:

Where to eat in Funchal

Where to eat on Madeira – the north

Where to eat on Madeira – the east

Where to eat in Ponta Delgada

Where to eat on Sao Miguel – Sete Cidades and the west

Where to eat on Sao Miguel – the north coast

Where to eat on Sao Miguel – Furnas and the east

Where to eat on Sao Miguel – the south coast

Where to eat in Angra

Where to eat on Terceira

Where to eat on Flores, Corvo and Santa Maria

Where to eat in Lisbon

Archipelago Choice Madeira Specialists

We specialise in personalised holidays to Madeira and Porto Santo. If you’d like to talk to one of our experts on the best time to visit Madeira, just give us a call on 017687 721070 or drop us a line via our Enquiry Form.

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