Coimbra's Top Restaurants for Portuguese Cuisine

Arcadas offers seasonal dishes artfully presented within an 18th-century palace turned hotel
Arcadas offers seasonal dishes artfully presented within an 18th-century palace turned hotel | Courtesy of Quinta das Lágrimas Hotel / Expedia
Sadie Whitelocks

Feast on rich culture, stunning scenery and delicious, authentic cuisine when visiting Coimbra in west-central Portugal.

Coimbra, the fourth largest city in Portugal, is well worth a visit, with a fascinating history dating back to Roman times, one of the world’s oldest universities and one of Europe’s oldest libraries. Another treat for the senses is the food. Here, we serve up the top spots for a real taste of Portugal during your Coimbra sojourn.

Arcadas restaurante

Settle in for some fine dining at this <a href=”https://theculturetrip.com/europe/ Portugal/articles/the-best-hotels-in-coimbra-for-every-traveller/”>upscale hotel restaurant housed within an 18th-century palace. The chef makes use of local produce, so the menu changes throughout the year, but seasonal favourites have included warming Portuguese stews and the top-rated crème brûlée. There’s the option of a multi-course tasting menu, with a vegetarian selection, too. Along with delicious food and excellent presentation, diners love the extensive wine list and knowledgeable sommelier.

Feel right at home at this cosy restaurant, which boasts a prime location in the heart of uptown Coimbra, in front of the Old Cathedral. O Trovador prides itself on serving up an authentic Portuguese experience, from the friendly service to the mouth-watering food. The well-curated menu presents a concise mix of seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes. Some of the house favourites include a goat stew and a wedge of meaty cod with a bread crust. The locally sourced wines also get top marks.

Loggia

Combine culture with cuisine at Loggia. This smart restaurant is located at Coimbra’s National Museum Machado de Castro, which is an art museum named after the renowned Portuguese sculptor Joaquim Machado de Castro. Feast on fantastic views over the city from the roomy outdoor terrace, while sampling fine food. It is open from lunch through to dinner, with sunset being one of the busiest times for bookings. All of the ingredients are locally sourced, from the olive oil to the wines. Don’t leave without trying the deliciously moreish pão de ló (sponge cake).

O Mimo

Arrive here hungry, as this restaurant serves up hearty dishes; once you’ve started, you won’t want to stop. There are bargain lunch deals, with soup, a drink, a main and coffee for less than €10 (£8.50). Specialities include baked cod, Portuguese-style steak and perfectly grilled squid. On the interior front, this place is simply furnished, with almost a canteen feel, but the main event here is the food and the friendly service.

Notes Bar & Kitchen

If you like steak, this chic bistro-style restaurant is a must-try. There’s a fantastic selection of dry-aged meat, with the cuts cooked exactly how you want them. Other dishes worth checking out include the curried pork cheek; vegetarians will love the creamy burrata salad. Be sure to leave room for dessert, as many say the sweets are the best part. The menu changes from time to time – but if they’re on there, the salted caramel brownies are to die for.

Dux Taberna Urbana

Trek to this modern restaurant in downtown Coimbra for a tantalising selection of tapas with well-matched wines. Guests rate the juicy grilled octopus tentacles, the dry-aged sirloin steaks and the meaty cod fritters; the local cheeses are also highly praised. Book in advance, otherwise you may be waiting over an hour for a table. Dux has several other outlets in the area, including a trendy café serving up Instagrammable hamburgers and cocktails.

Restaurante Nacional

Settle in for a meal to remember at this pint-sized restaurant, which is located on the first floor of a building close to the historic town centre. It’s worth making the trek up the staircase to find this place, with a cosy atmosphere and expertly prepared dishes to greet you. An exposed stone wall adds to the ambience, along with eye-catching artwork which frequently changes. The photogenic seafood paella is one of the best in town, while the codfish is another highlight.

Restaurante Giro

Tucked away down a little alley, this restaurant might not look anything special, but sit yourself down and prepare to be surprised by the tasty fare on offer. It excels in grilled dishes, with the chicken migas (corn tortilla strips) being a popular pick, along with the sea bass and codfish. Service is friendly and efficient, and the prices are very reasonable.

Toca Do Gato

This pint-sized tavern, which translates to “the cat’s den”, has been welcoming guests since the 1930s and remains a popular spot in the heart of the old town. There are several tables on the cobbled street outside, which is the perfect place to watch the world go by while grazing on dishes such as grilled octopus, baked cod with spinach and corn, and seafood paella. There is also an indoor seating area, which features exposed-stone walls and Portuguese tiling. Occasional live music adds to the convivial atmosphere.

Arcada Comes e Bebes

Sit back and enjoy the relaxed ambience at this restaurant in the lively old town. The intimate dining space features fun little details, with one table propped up with an old wine barrel and lampshades fashioned out of cheese graters. If the weather’s nice, there are also several tables outside. The quirky detailing runs through to the food, with the fried sardines pegged on a line in a miniature boat. The tongue-tingling lime tart is another reason to call in here.

After you’ve dined in these restaurants, saunter back to one of <a href=”https://theculturetrip.com/europe/ Portugal/articles/the-best-hotels-in-coimbra-for-every-traveller/”>Coimbra’s top hotels, now bookable via Culture Trip. If you want to try more Portuguese cuisine, head south to Lisbon, where you’ll be able to find the <a href=”https://theculturetrip.com/europe/ Portugal/lisbon/articles/the-best-places-to-try-pasteis-de-natas-in-lisbon/”>best places to try pastéis de nata. Stay in one of Lisbon’s top <a href=”https://theculturetrip.com/europe/ Portugal/lisbon/articles/the-best-boutique-hotels-in-lisbon/”>boutique hotels, and see the <a href=”https://theculturetrip.com/europe/ Portugal/lisbon/articles/20-must-visit-attractions-in-lisbon/”>must-visit attractions in the city, or step away from the crowds and discover <a href=”https://theculturetrip.com/europe/ Portugal/lisbon/articles/lisbon-s-10-best-contemporary-art-galleries-and-museums-the-culture-lover-s-guide-to- Portugal/”>the capital’s art scene.

This is a rewrite of an article originally by Simão Valente.

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