Friday, July 7, 2023

A Gastronomic Tour of the Center of Portugal: 9 Best Places to Eat

This post and tour is sponsored by The Center of Portugal Tourism Board. We received complimentary meals in exchange for honest reviews and content. All opinions are my own.
Photography: All images are our own.

We just returned from an epic PRESS TOUR of the Center of Portugal; located between the two main aiports. Here you will find impressive scenery and a millenary history that left notalbe landmarks on the landscape.

Luz Houses Breakfast

It was amazing to experience historical villages, border castles, Schist Villages, Mountain Villages, mouth-watering gastronomy and the warm hearted Portuguese people.

In the next few weeks, we'll share tips, imagery, castles monasteries, a winery tour and hotel/city guides for visiting this lil slice of heaven.

...AND now the first guide: The Foods and Restaurants of the CENTER OF PORTUGAL

Zelia Restaurant

Zelai Restaurante Babarral Portugal

Our first stop was at Zelia Restaurante located in the picturesque village of Bombarral. This town is lovely, quaint and close to an amazing wine estate. ( We toured the winery and will feature it later in another article.)

Picture in your mind; big green rolling hills with lush trees and clusters of flowers in beautiful vibrant colors. This was the backdrop to enjoy the first tastes of Portugal.

Zelia offers a classy dining experience in a casual atmosphere.  The waiters are friendly, informative and eager to help choose meals to suit your tastes.

Recommended dishes:

  • Breaded white fish with potato salad
  • Fries ( tastier fries than at home in the USA)
  • Shaved Brazilian beef
  • Creamy vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and sliced almonds, dusted with powdered sugar. This this dessert was to die for!
Zeila Restaurante Bombarral Portugal- Dessert

Sana Silver Coast Hotel

Caldas de Rainha, Sana Silver Coast Hotel Food

Our first night was spent in Caldas de Rainha, at the Sana Silver Coast Hotel! It was a beautiful stay with a delicious dinner onsite.

The restaurant is conveniently located on the first floor, across from the reception desk. This Lisbonese restaurant & bar boasts an elegant neoclassical inspired atmosphere. Outside, for those warm summer days is a welcoming terrace cafe. It's a perfect setting to enjoy your meal, relax and unwind.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Mushroom Risotto
  • Veal Steak w/garlic mayo potato wedges and roasted peppers
  • Pork Bao ( appetizer)

Origens Restaurant

Origens restaurant located in the charming town of Alcobaca, was off the charts amazing! This one is a MUST TRY! Origens offers tasty seafood and Portuguese cuisine. The salmon was some of the best I've tasted. It was tender, flaky and seasoned to perfection.

An old world interior style awaits you, along with great service and great food!  Everything here was perfection. The tile decoration on the walls is beautiful and makes for a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

This town is famous for the UNESCO World Heritage site: Alcobaca Monastery. If you decide to tour this historical wonder, then plan on eating lunch or dinner at ORIGENS! It's a short walk from the monastery.

Origens Restaurante, Alcobaca Portugal

Recommended dishes:

  • Cheese and Crackers with Marmalade ( this appetizer is so tasty!)
  • Salmon  with Potatoes and Broccoli
  • Spaghetti Carbonara
  • Veal with Mustard Sauce
  • Chocolate Lava Cake for Dessert

Pesca No Prata Restaurant

In the charming beach resort town of Sao Martinho do Porto; we had the amazing experience of dining at Pesca no Prato.  This nautical themed fishhouse is located on the main avenue by the seashell shaped bay.

In this restaurant you will be served Portugues and Mediterranean cuisine. The accomdating staff work hard to offer an authentic seaside 'foody' experience. The best part, Pesca no Prato offers attractive prices for world class dining.  Here you'll enjoy serenity with a stunning beach view.

At the end of the 19th century, Sao Martinho do Porto became the glamourous resort of the Portuguese arisocrats. There is much history and  beautiful scenery to discover in this town. We can't wait to go back to Portugal and stay at this beachside escape.

Pesca no Prato, Sao Martinho do Porto , Portugal

Sao Martinho do Porto Portugal

Recommended Dishes:

  • Bass Fish
  • Clams sauteed in butter
  • Steamed vegetables: green beans and mushrooms
  • Sangria (it was the best I've tasted and they bring a full pitcher of it- yum!)

Montebelo Mosteiro De Alcobaca Historic Hotel

Alcobaca Portugal, Montebelo Mosteiro de Alcobaca

Can you imagine eating and lodging in a historic monastery?! I never fathomed it in my wildest dreams! However that dream came true just 2 weeks ago in Alcobaca, in the Center of Portugal. We stayed over one night at the new hotel recently constructed on the back end of the Monastery.

Upon waking the next morning we went upstairs to a beautiful dining room on the 2nd floor of the  monestary. Here we were treated to a massive buffet of typical Portuguese breakfast items. It was really hard to make choices, Oh my, so much deliciousness all in one place!

Also available to compliment your morning coffee: the #1 favorite dessert of Portugal- " Pasteis de Nata" ( Portugues Custard Tarts)

Tia Alice Restaurant

Tia Alice Restaurante , Fatima Portugal

Next we departed to the city of Fatima. First on the agenda was lunch at  Tia Alice Restaurante, a beautifully restored home-turned restaurant.  The building has been remodeled but retains some of the old world architecture and beauty of the past.

It was a unique experience and lovely ambiance. The dessert was my favorite part of the meal. I hear it's hard to get reservations here; so reserve well in advance if Tia Alice is on your itinerary.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Casserole made of cod fish, scalloped potatoes with a cream sauce
  • Veal cutlets
  • Chocolate cake for dessert or Ice cream with creamy chocolate sauce

Luz Charming Houses

The Luz Houses is a charming tourist develoment that consists of a small village with architecture inspired by the ancient villages of the Fatima region of the 19th and 20th centuries. We stayed here two nights and ate very unique "farm to table" cuisine. ( Luz Houses review coming soon !)

The breakfast was to die for and one of my favorite breakfasts in Portugal. It consisted of a charcuterie board of tasty cheeses and meats, fabulous breads and desserts, scrambled eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee. The portions were huge!

At dinner time, we were served sliders with meat and veggies, a stuffed mushroom dish and other unique items. The dinner was not up my alley, but I'm picky! If you are adventurous, then you'll love it.  Meals are served in the dining area of the " MOTHER HOUSE".  The decor is so cute and inviting.

The menu experience we reviewed is called " BE MY GUEST", a blind menu where the chef designs every moment and you don't choose the dishes. An al la carte menu is available to choose from, if you prefer that option.

Bela-Vista Restaurant

Bela-Vista Restaurante Tomar Portugal

Bela Vista in the the beautiful city of Tomar, offers amazing service and excellent homemade cuisine. This restaurant was tops, and our #1 favorite in the Center of Portugal. In addition, the outside patio has scenic views of the Nabao River and the picturesque skyline of the village of Tomar.

>We dined with our tour guide, talked to the owner and enjoyed the amazing scenery. I can't say enough about the tasty food and how much we enjoyed this location for lunch. Farofias was the best dessert I tasted in Portugal!

Recommended Dishes:

  • Grilled Brazilian Beef ( served with white rice and black beans)
  • Portuguese Steamed Clams with Butter and Squash
  • Farofias- Dessert ( made with egg whites, sugar, milk, lemon and topped with cinnamon)
Tomar Portugal

Mariquinhas Obidos

Obidos Portugal, Ginja Cherry Liquer, Ginja Obidos

We were excited to visit the historical village of Obidos (surrounded by 13th century medieval walls.) Her we had the experience of visiting Ginga de Obidos, the store & brand selling the most popular cherry liquer in the country. THIS STORE is a MUST SEE in OBIDOS!  The Liquer is proudly produced and bottled in Portugal.

The manager Andre told us the history of the Ginja Cherry Liquer and treated us to a taste test. It was such a fun experience!  He offered to give us a tour of the production facility down the road too. Unfortunately we had to pass, as we had leave for the airport in  Lisbon. We want to come back to the tour!

Ginja de Obidos, Obidos Portugal

We also sampled a non-alcoholic drink in the heart shaped jar. It tasted like lemonade mixed with the cherry liquer. It was quite delicious!  I wish they would bottle that up and send me a case!

Dario Pimpao is the creator of the liquer, an sef taught in the art of producing Ginja. He has a big passion for his job. He is also an experimenter of flavors and has prodced other confections, sweets and jams.

He was the one who invented Ginja liquer in a chocolate cup; which we taste tested on our visit- YUM! This invention was the inspiration for hte first Chocolate Festival haid in Obidos in 2002 and contintues today.

Ginja de Obidos Portugal, Obidos Portugal

Thanks for joining us on this gastronomic tour of the Center of Portugal. Our hope is you are inspired to plan a trip to this amazing region. You'll love to experience the mouth-watering cuisine!

Do check out the Center of Portugal Togetherness Portal; dedicated to the news, ideas and inspiring projects. This portal is updated every 2 weeks, to bring you the latest news in 5 different languages with eyes on the future.

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A Foodie's Guide - Center of Portugal

Would you like to comment?

  1. I remember traveling in Portugal years ago and loving the delicious food. This all looks and sounds so good!

  2. Wow, all this awesome food and what a gorgeous place to be in! After all that, you two do NOT look like you gained any weight. Lol! -

  3. Oh yum! The food all looks so good but I have to say I could really go for that ice cream dessert right now, haha!

    Thanks for joining the Weekday Wear Link up :)