#01 – Beginning at the eastern-end of the city, the Barreirinha Bar and Café has a great seaview and a laid-back atmosphere – a good spot for everything from a quick coffee, a light lunch, or home-made burgers and a DJ set in the evening. Barreirinha certainly feels more lively in the evenings – a friendly locals’ place, ideal for your first taste of Poncha: Madeira’s most famous cocktail of Aguardente de Cana (sugar cane rum) honey, lemon and orange juice.
#02 – Heading down towards the centre of town, you’ll come to one of Funchal’s most historic landmarks – the 17th century Forte de Sao Tigao which once protected Funchal’s harbour. Nowadays it’s home to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Restaurante Do Forte. The restaurant’s a la carte menu of modern Madeiran cuisine is very reasonably priced, and the staff are super-friendly and knowledgeable. They often host themed evenings with a special menu to match.
#03 – Moving into the old town district – known locally as the Zona Velha, these narrow-cobbled streets with their colourfully painted doors have the highest concentration of restaurants anywhere on the island, and the district has become something of a hub for foodies in recent years. The Restaurante o Portao serves traditional Madeiran cuisine – fresh, seasonal fish based around the catch of the day, and their banna and black scabbard fish is a particular favourite of ours, with a side order of milho frito (fried maize).
#04 – One of our favourite old town restaurants is the Taberna Ruel on Rua de Santa Maria, and it’s distinctive yellow frontage makes it easy to find. The menu is a nice mix of Madeiran and more traditional European – but their excellent wine cellar is all Portuguese. There are tables out on the bustling (pedestrian only) street, indoors under the sturdy stone arches of the old building for a more intimate dinner, or out in the rear courtyard for steaks over hot coals.
#05 – Moving out of the old town, one of our favourite restaurants for décor is Armazém do Sal on Rua da Alfandega. It’s name translates as ‘salt warehouse’, and the restaurant’s preserved oak beams and imposing heavy stone help conjure a strong feel for the building’s past life. More importantly, the food is excellent – trout from Ribeiro Frio and octopus risotto to keep fish lovers happy, and fabulous Iberian pork and lamb from mainland Portugal.
#06 – The Cervaria Madeira is on the city’s seafront Avenida do Mar. Formerly the ‘Grand Café’, it’s revamped itself into an excellent lunch and dinner option which is close to the marina and the Se Cathedral. Happily, they’ve held on to their always-popular gelataria.
#07 -The Mercearia Dona Mecia can be tricky to find but it’s well-worthy searching out. It’s on the pedestrianised Rua dos Aranhas which runs from the La Vie centre down to the Marina shopping centre on the Avenida Arriga. The Mercearia’s a lovely courtyard café which is perfect for a shady lunchstop, and they have a delicatessen where you can pick-up Madeiran produce as gifts for family and friends.
#08 – The Ritz on the Avenida Arriaga is one of the island’s oldest open-air cafes (dating back to 1910). Location is everything and you’ll inevitably pass by the Ritz during your time in the city – Arriaga is a lively street and the Ritz as a landmark is a good meet-up point. It’s not the cheapest restaurant in the city but they have a nice mixed menu of local dishes. Where they do stand out is with their confectionary – their cakes are sensational.
#09 – Moving into the west of the city, the Restaurante Casa Velha is dwarfed by the large, multi-story hotels which have sprang up around it over the last thirty years. Both the menu and the décor offer a homely, Madeiran feel that’s missing from those oversized modern hotel complexes, and if you’re staying at Quinta da Penha Franca, it’s just a minute’s walk away.
#10 – Last but not least: the Sabores da Nossa Ilha is a food court in miniature, with Mexican, Italian and Madeiran cuisine all under one roof. It’s busy and noisy but in fun way (maybe not the venue for a quiet, intimate dinner for two), and it’s hidden behind the behemoth that is the Savoy Palace Hotel.
Personal, efficient and informal service which made booking and travelling very straightforward and stress-free.
Thanks again for your help and organisation – this really has been one of the best holidays we’ve ever had.
More than lived up to expectations and a pleasure to deal with a small company.
First class service, nothing too much trouble, communication excellent.
Quality service from start to finish. Immediate support when problems arose.
The service was personal and the team helped me plan a very special holiday (with extra surprises along the way !).
From first contact to the compeltion of our holiday, all staff were extremely helpful and our itinerary was packed with awesome experiences.
First rate holiday, put together by a first rate company – thank you !
Very helpful staff, and the trips they organised for us were excellent with knowledgeable guides
Views to die for !
We had the most fantastic time, the accommodation was fabulous, the walks and views were to die for. Insightful tour guides that kept it fun and interesting at all times.