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Despite its small size, Portugal is a nation with a rich gastronomy that hardly fits in its territorial limits. With a cuisine based on local ingredients and traditions – currently one of the most valued attributes in the food world – the country has dozens of interesting restaurants that are outside the circuits of big cities like Lisbon and Oporto.
Because it is a small country, Portugal is a great place to be discovered by car - the distance from one city to another can be less than an hour in the road, which makes it easier to explore several restaurants in just a few days.
Below, a list for unusual destinations to find the best of Portuguese cuisine. Hit the road and bom appetit!
G’Pousada (City: Bragança | Region: Trás-os-Montes)
A recent new one-star Michelin restaurant, G’Pousada, situated in Bragança northeast reion of te country, is where brothers Óscar and António Golçalves, chef and sommelier respectively, showcase the modern cuisine of the region of Trás-os-Montes.
Sons of Adérito and Iracema, a couple who has been cooking for over three decades in the famous O Geadas, a mythical place for traditional Portuguese food, they have learned very well how to value what they have around. Ingredients like mushrooms (which are on the menu all year round) and game meats meets seafood (lobsters and shrimp), the region's famous lamb and well-cooked vegetables in the creative menu. Wines from the region pair well with the amazing meal.
Estrada do Turismo 5300, Bragança
A Cozinha (City: Guimarães | Region: Minho)
In this restaurant where chef Antonio Loureiro surprises with a modern kitchen that mixes balance and sensitivity, words like "reuse" and "zero waste" are slogans - no wonder, the restaurant was voted one of the most sustainable in the world. With a Michelin star, the restaurant is located in Guimarães, one of the most important historical cities of Portugal.
In a casual atmosphere, as if you were at a friend's house, Loureiro prepares beautiful dishes with seasonal and organic ingredients that he buys from local producers.
Largo do Serralho 4, Guimarães
Largo do Paço (City: Amarante | Region: Douro)
Currently run by chef Tiago Bonito, the restaurant located in the Relais & Chateaux Hotel Casa Da Calçada has never dropped its high quality. Bonito’s creative dishes have strong roots in traditional Portuguese cuisine but looking for a universal gastronomy, in creations such as the crayfish with oysters and citrus fruits and the veal steak with grilled vegetables.
Set in a luxurious 16th century palace, the restaurant combines tradition and innovation – and also boasts a Michelin star.
Largo do Paço
Taberna Ó Balcão (City: Santarém | Region: Ribatejo)
In a short time, Rodrigo Castelo has become one of the most prominent chefs in the country, proving that it is possible to bet on signature cuisine outside of the big cities. The restaurant assumed the status of gastronomic reference in the region. In a more casual place, he serves hearty and traditional dishes in a modern approach, highlighting typical local ingredients, such as river fish and shellfish, and game meats like quail and rabbit. A place to eat well and have a good time.
Taberna Ó Balcão
Pedro de Santarém 73, Santarém
Vila Joya (City: Albufeira | Region: Algarve)
Vila Joya is an Oriental mansion where a luxury hotel and this amazing restaurant are situated.
With Austrian chef Dieter Koschina running the kitchen, the menu changes daily and counts on the freshest ingredients, from seafood to the best options local fishers can catch. Koschina masters traditional cooking techniques that he mixes with delicate and flavorful preparations.
With two Michelin stars, it still has one of the best sommeliers in the country, Arnaud Vallet.
Estrada da Galé, Albufeira
Herdade do Esporão Restaurant (City: Reguengos de Monsaraz | Region: Alentejo)
The restaurant of Herdade do Esporão, one of the main wine producers of Alentejo, has become a gastronomic destination in the region. Aside from the lovely place – where you can take tours and even stay –, the restaurant itself is worth the visit.
The tasting menu, now under the talents of chef Carlo Teixeira, changes almost every day, but always valuing the Alentejo terroir in dishes with the famous local pork, nuts and even in ingredients harvested on the property, from vegetables to various fruits. Needless to say, pairing is mandatory.
Herdade do Esporão Restaurant
Reguengos de Monsaraz
Fortaleza do Guincho (City: Cascais | Region: Lisbon)
In this 17th century fortress transformed into boutique Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho is located one of the best restaurants in Portugal, in the charming coastal resort town of Cascais.
Chef Gil Fernandes, who is under thirty, learned to cook with his grandmother, and features a hearty but modern cuisine focused on fish and seafood from the Portuguese coast (from the octopus salad to prawns from Algarve). As if that's not enough, the restaurant has a stunning view of the Atlantic Sea.
Fortaleza do Guincho
Estrada do Guincho, Cascais
Midori (City: Sintra | Region: Lisbon)
In a country with so many good fish, one would expect a restaurant to use these great products aligning them with Japanese cuisine techniques to achieve very high results. This is the case of Midori, the only Michelin-starred oriental restaurant in the country.
Chef Pedro Almeida creates his authentic and signature cuisine in dishes such as swordfish tempura with banana puree with and miso, cod miso shiro, and sushis and sashimis taking advantage of the best local raw materials (horse mackerel, tuna, prawns) he has close to the restaurant. The same hotel in which Midori is located, Penha Longa, is also situated the Portuguese restaurant of Spanish chef Sergi Arola, and it is the only hotel in the country with two starred restaurants.
Estrada da Lagoa Azul, Sintra
Ocean (City: Porches | Region: Algarve)
Another foreign chef who decided to make Portugal his home, Austrian Hans Nuener arrived in Algarve in 2007 to lead this restaurant.
From then on, he fell in love with the country and its cuisine, which he has always tried to study in depth. Today, he values the freshness and the quality of the products that are a few meters from his kitchen in an inventive menu full of nuances. With two Michelin stars, Nuener pays a beautiful tribute to the rich Portuguese gastronomy in elaborated and precise dishes.
Rua Anneliese Pohl, Alporchinhos