The Best Tips For Eating Out in Portugal

Posted by Marianne Hoesen on Friday, February 20, 2015 Under: holiday tips


Eating out is one of my favorite pastimes here in Portugal. It is not only a nice social event with tasty food, but eating out in Portugal is also very affordable. At least if you look a bit further than the busy tourist traps. There are many restaurants, even in the smallest villages, and the majority of Portuguese eateries will rarely disappoint you.

For those of you who are not so experienced with eating out in Portugal, here are some practical tips and advices.

1. Once you get seated in a restaurant, the "entradas" (starters) will be brought to the table. If you do not want them, please say so right away and have them taken away, because you will be billed for them in the end. Usually there is at least fresh bread and olives, with butter, sardine paste and sometimes cheese. For this, you pay up to about 2 Euros per person extra. But sometimes shrimp or ham will be served, which could cost you approximately an additional € 4. 

2. The daily specials are usually not on the menu, but are verbally mentioned at the table or written on a blackboard at the entrance of the restaurant. If you are not sure where to find it, please ask for the "prato do dia". Some restaurants let you choose between several daily specials, which are always prepared freshly and usually are cheaper than ordering from the menu. Most restaurants offer a prato do dia at lunchtime, between € 7 and € 10, and that's usually INCLUDING bread and olives, main course, wine or beer or soft drink, dessert and coffee! 

3. The sidedishes are usually not listed separately on the menu. They could be fries, potatoes or rice, and sometimes there is a small salad. Usually you will not be served fresh vegetables. If you would like some, try asking for some "legumes".

4. You will usually not be disappointed if you order the house wine (vinho da casa). The quality is good and the price too! This wine is usually served in a jar (jarra). There is red wine (vinho tinto), white wine (vinho branco) and vinho verde (green wine - young sparkling wine).

5. If you want water with your meal, it is handy to know that you have the choice between "agua natural" (room temperature), "agua fresca" (refrigerated), "agua sem gas" (still water) or "agua com gas" (sparkling).

6. According to our taste, the meat here is sometimes overcooked. So if you want your steak or lamb medium rare, order it "mal passado".

7. What we call a good steak, is sometimes hard to find here. A good alternative is "costeleta de vaca" - a tender piece of beef that looks like a big cutlet with bone.

8. The portions in many Portuguese restaurants are often very large. Many workmen come here for lunch and they 
are very hungry! If your apetite is not that big, or if you order for children, it is often interesting to order a half portion: a "meia dose".

9. In some restaurants you pay for your meat or fish according to its weight. To avoid disappointment on the bill, it is advisable to agree on how heavy your piece may be beforehand.

10. The temperature of the food is sometimes not hot enough to our liking. If you for example want your soup served very hot, then ask for it to be served "bem quente" (pronounced beng kente).

11. Tipping is certainly appreciated, but not required. Are you satisfied with food and service then a tip of around 5% is very nice.

12. Lunchtime is between 12 and 3 pm and for dinner you do not show up before 7 pm. Many Portuguese go for dinner between 8 and 9 pm - especially in the summer.

If you have more tips to add here, please tell me about it!

In : holiday tips 

Tags: eating out in portugal  tips for eating out in portugal 

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About Me

Marianne Hoesen Born in the deep south of The Netherlands, I moved to the central Algarve in 2007, together with my partner and 2 dogs. In the meantime we added some goats and chickens and are living a peaceful life in the rolling hills of the rural south of Portugal. I invite you to read a bit in my blog and to leave a comment afterwards. Also check out the holiday accommodations mentioned elsewhere in this website.


Algarve Portugal
café Portugal, bica
Esteva, rock rose, Algarve
sun, beach, Algarve
real cork real wine
beach Algarve
folklore dance Algarve
chicken piri piri

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