In Funchal, the capital of Portugal’s autonomous island region of Madeira, you’ll find sea views, warm breezes, colorful flowers, dramatic mountains, and, of course, some amazing local food. Here are our picks for Funchal’s top 10 restaurants.
As you might expect from a restaurant that borrows its name from one of the world’s best composers, Restaurante Mozart offers you a symphony for your taste buds. Their menu, which draws on the best of both local traditions and other European cuisines, has paired most dishes with names of composers. You can start with the Beethoven (octopus carpaccio) and then have the Tchaikovsky (duck breast with citrus sauce) for your main course. Why not throw in a Gershwin (passion fruit soufflé with ice cream) for dessert?
For the best local cuisine, come to O Tasco, a laid-back restaurant that specializes in Madeiran food. As there is no set menu, you’ll have your pick of the dishes of the day, which are mostly fish. Since the sea is nearby, you can count on exceptionally fresh fish. Everyone who works here is very open and friendly, and they’re happy to explain any of the dishes in greater detail or make recommendations if necessary. You’ll love the relaxed atmosphere, so take your time to enjoy the tapas-style appetizers before digging into your main dish.
Il Gallo d’Oro is the Michelin-starred jewel in Funchal’s culinary crown. The cuisine is inspired by flavors of the Mediterranean and the Iberian peninsula. With a chef whose dedication to perfection is rivaled only by his own creativity, the meal you’ll have here is sure to be memorable. It’s not only a Funchal favorite — it has even been called the best restaurant in Portugal. Il Gallo d’Oro is certainly a splurge. But the meals here aren’t just meals, they’re also experiences. Between the decor, the service, and, of course, the food, you’ll leave satisfied on all levels.
Restaurante Do Forte combines its location in one of the city’s most visited spots with excellent and creative food. You’ll find it in the Sao Tiago Fortress, which also houses the Museum of Contemporary Art. They often hold interesting events here, so they frequently feature a set menu to go along with the theme of the night, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or Moroccan night. The staff is also exceptionally friendly and attentive. They’ll do whatever they can to give you a pleasant experience.
Visiting the Med will first take you into the beautiful world of the Porto Mare hotel and then into the calm island lifestyle of the Mediterranean. The food there has touches of Greek, Moroccan, and Italian cuisine and it is all expertly prepared in a gorgeous environment. They are well known for the presentation of their food and the excellent staff who serve it. Their fish dishes are certainly a highlight, but their steak is also seasoned and cooked perfectly.
If meat is what you’re in the mood for, La Vaca Negra is another great place to go. They specialize in Argentinean steaks, which they even let you choose yourself if you want to. They then add seasonings and sides that really complement the flavor of the meat, so come prepared to eat a lot. Don’t expect fine dining. Instead, expect friendly informality and owners who really endeavor to create a personal connection with the people they serve. This is local dining at its best.
Despite its location in the old town, O Portao has still managed to remain a hidden gem. Another informal restaurant, O Portao specializes in local cuisine. It manages to keep the prices extremely low and the value extremely high. You can sit inside or enjoy their outdoor dining while people-watching and basking in the seaside breeze. The staff is always friendly, kind, and even funny. While their fish and other main dishes are excellent, this is a place where you’ll want to save room for dessert. They offer a very popular chocolate mousse, and the passion fruit pudding is quite possibly the best in town.
You might not expect to find Indian food in a town this far away from India, but the owners of Sabor da India have done a great job of importing all the best flavors of the subcontinent. Choosing what to eat is often a difficult task at Indian places, so they have both set menus and servers who are happy to advise you. Unsurprisingly, it’s a great place for vegetarians to come for a delicious meal. Some favorites include the popadums with various chutneys, Kashmiri lamb, and the kulfi dessert.
Sometimes, what you really just need is a great night at the pub – and that’s exactly what Bar Number Two will provide for you in Funchal. They have Portuguese sandwiches if you’re hungry, which are all made with local flavors and ingredients. Of course, they’re better known for their drink menu. It is chock full of popular cocktails and beers from all around the world. If you don’t see your favorite listed there, talk to the bartenders – they’re very knowledgeable and happy to go above and beyond so that you get exactly the drink that you want.
Restaurante Real Canoa is the sort of place you’ll want to keep returning to after you’ve been once, as evidenced by the many regulars who do just that. This place is well known for their steaks, which are cooked in the local style and always end up at exactly the temperature you requested. The staff takes their reputation as a restaurant with regulars seriously. They make a great effort to treat every group as honored guests. You’ll love the traditional Portuguese cuisine they offer, and sometimes they feature extra treats like live music or themed nights with the staff in costume.