Guimarães is not very big, but we have everything that we need. It captivates anyone who visits. The Minho region it’s in has a lot to offer in terms of produce. We have a favourable geographical location, surrounded by mountains and valleys, and we are very close to the coast. This means that we have a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, fish and meat, which translates into a very diverse and rich cuisine. Usually we buy directly from the producers, but if you are visiting Guimarães on the weekend, there is an organic market that pops up every Saturday morning. It is usually in the garden surrounding the Alberto Sampaio museum. There, some of our favourite producers – like Quinta de Silvares – sell seasonal and organic produce grown very close to the city.
A Childhood Favourite
Outeiro is a restaurant I’ve been visiting since I was a child. It is located in the mountains of Penha outside Guimarães and is very nice to go with family and friends for Sunday lunch. The food is traditional Portuguese, and they cook with the best local produce. I usually order the bacalhau (salted codfish); or the rosbife (roast veal) which is one of my favourites dishes. In the winter it’s nice to go for rojões with papas de sarrabulho (pork with an oat and blood porridge). If you eat that dish for lunch you won’t need dinner! It’s a an intense, high-calorie food.
Two Classic Restaurants in Guimarães
It’s not so easy to find tascas (traditional restaurants) in the historical centre of the city, but in the villages around Guimarães there are lots of classics like São Gião and O Talento. Both restaurants are the sort of places to visit on the weekend for a big, long family lunch. In São Gião you will find traditional cuisine: you can eat game; you can eat fish. At restaurant Talento you will find traditional meat dishes like cabrito (roast goat); or veal and pork cooked in the oven.
Spain Has Tapas, Portugal Has Petiscos
When friends who are chefs are visiting I usually take them to places where they can try local recipes they don’t otherwise have access to. My favourite is Taberna do Trovador. It’s very casual and affordable, but very good. It has very traditional petiscos (small plates like tapas) that are perfect to share. Think pasteis de bacalhau (codfish croquettes) or moelas (chicken gizzards).
“I’ve Never Seen These Dishes in Another Place in Portugal”
On Penha, the mountain that’s about three kilometres from the centre of Guimarães, there are two tascas where you can find all the traditional petiscos that we have in Portugal. At Adega do Ermitão order the traditional bread topped with toucinho (fatty bacon). It’s a salty, thin flatbread made to order. They put the fatty pork belly bacon inside the bread and place it in the wood-fired oven. You can also have the bread with fried little sardines called petingas. The pork liver with onions and vinegar and the bolinhas de bacalhau (codfish croquettes) are also good. I’ve never seen these dishes in another place in Portugal – they’re very local. Amigos de Penha is the same concept. It doesn’t have a menu: it grills meat and fish over charcoal, and offers traditional dishes like feijoada (bean stew), tripas (offal) and papas de sarrabulho (blood and oat porridge). Everything is from the region.
Traditional Sweets To Seek Out
My favourite local sweet is torta de Guimarães. It looks like a puff-pastry moon, but is very crunchy, very sweet, and the texture inside is so different from Guimarães’ other traditional sweet, toucinho de céu (Portuguese almond cake). I find that one too heavy and sweet, but you can try both in Pastelaria Clarinha, a bakery in the city centre that has been open for more than 50 years.
Where To Drink in Guimarães
The historic centre is the place to go at night. You can find 20 or more small bars that spill out onto the main squares. A favourite of mine is Pholus Bar, a great spot to drink cocktails, wine or beer. It’s a nice place to stay for a while as it has a terrace and is usually open until two o’clock in the morning. It’s usually very calm, so if you want something more upbeat try El Rock Bar. It’s a relaxed bar with (as you’d expect here) rock music. It’s where you would go with friends at the beginning of a big night to kick start the evening.
A Relaxed Bistro With a Twist
Guimarães has a lot of great restaurants, but for the most part they don’t stray from the same traditional lane. For something different I like this one chef called Christian Rullán. He has a little bistro where he explores his Portuguese, French and Spanish influences (his mother is Spanish and father is French, I believe). He married a Portuguese girl from Guimarães and they opened Le BabaChris. It’s very cosy and the food is excellent.
Fusion Cuisine in Guimarães
Restaurante 34 is an incredibly beautiful dining space. Since Guimarães is a very traditional city, this restaurant stands out. Here the cuisine is a fusion between Asia and South America, with lots of ceviches and other fresh fish dishes like poke bowls, tataki and tacos.
Best Codfish of My Life
In Póvoa do Lanhoso, 30 minutes north of Guimarães, is a regional place called Restaurante Victor set in the countryside surrounded by trees and gardens. It is very, very traditional. Here the chefs cook codfish in charcoal – something you cannot find in other places – and it’s the best codfish I have eaten in my life. It’s very simple: they grill it in charcoal and put it in a traditional oven that enhances the smokey flavour. This is what makes the difference. The fish is served with potatoes roasted in charcoal, onion and the best olive oil the restaurant can get. The flavour and the texture are really amazing. Victor also cooks meat, but the codfish is the star and one portion will feed four or five people. It’s a monster! It’s amazing.
Classic Portuguese With a Modern Outlook
In Braga, a city near Guimarães, Restaurante Tempo serves classic Portuguese dishes in a new way. I love the food in this kind of restaurant: the chef reinterprets old recipes using local produce. Here this includes meat and good fish like sea bass. He serves like dishes like ovos rotos, which is a Spanish snack of potato chips with egg and jamon, but using Portuguese produce.
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