Portugal has a long sea-faring heritage and with the Atlantic Ocean flanking the entire west and southern boundaries of the country, it is no surprise that fish and seafood play such an important role in the Portuguese gastronomy.
Wherever you go, cod, seafood and all manner of fresh fish play a starring role on the restaurant menus, and nowhere more so than in Aveiro, with its expansive lagoon, pretty canal network and expansive sandy beaches nearby.
Restaurants in Aveiro embrace the sea with every mouthful. To help you decide where to eat in Aveiro and which delicacies simply must be tried, we have prepared a “tour of tastes” to help you along your way.
No day of gastronomic discovery in Portugal should begin without a hearty breakfast. The country is renowned for its superb baked products, and sweet pastries, freshly baked cakes and aromatic breads are the stars of the show on the breakfast menu. Complement these with local cold meats and cheeses, honey from nearby hives and a wide variety of fresh fruit and you have the perfect start to the day.
Lunch presents two options — a trip to the beach to sample the freshest fish right on the Atlantic shores, or a trip to the fish market to watch the fishermen peddling their catches before heading upstairs to the market restaurant to sample the best of the best.
A Peixaria is your destination if the beach wins the day. Located on Rua Mestre Jorge Pestana, in the maritime Natural Reserve of Sao Jacinto, A Peixaria is a simple restaurant that specialises in doing what it does to perfection. It is not pretentious, but nor are its prices, and with capacity for some 100 diners there is plenty of space for everyone, even in the high season months.
A warm ambience greets you the moment you walk over the threshold and the food certainly doesn’t disappoint. The name A Peixaria means “the fishery” in English and, true to expectations, the menu features just about every fish imaginable, from bream to bass, from salmon to skate, not forgetting of course the famous cod dishes for which Portugal is famed.
If seafood is your preference, opt for the seafood Cataplana (traditional seafood stew) or the grilled cuttlefish, which many locals and visitors hold to be the very best in the world!
Dining at the fish market in Aveiro city centre is an entirely different yet equally satisfying gastronomic experience. The Mercado do Peixe, or fish market, was first built in 1904 but has been entirely rebuilt in recent years, with huge panes of glass offering extensive views out to the Sao Roque canal, whilst at the same time bringing the maritime atmosphere right into the building.
Explore the market, soak up the atmosphere and marvel at the wide variety of fish and seafood on offer, before heading upstairs to the first-floor restaurant to your alternative lunch destination. The Mercado do Peixe Restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner, but it is at lunch time that diners can enjoy the best value for money. This daily lunch offer includes a choice of soup, choice of main course using the tastiest, freshest catch of the day, and vegetables, all for a flat rate of around 7.50 euros — an absolute bargain by any standards!
Popular dishes include the fish and shrimp kebabs, grilled sea bass and fried white bait, all of which are perfect in their own right but taste even better washed down with a cold glass of decent Portuguese white wine.
Once you have had your fill, while away your afternoon with a trip around Aveiro’s shopping district, being sure to stop at the legendary Doce Pimenta. Doce Pimenta is a speciality food shop which sells a motley selection of herbs, spices and foods from all over Portugal, as well as Italy, France and Brazil.
Let us not forget about the most famous pastry in Aveiro and, perhaps, one of the most renowned in the country and what makes Aveiro unique: “ovos moles”. Ovos moles are a local delicacy made with eggs yolks and sugar, and literally mean ‘soft eggs’. You must not leave Aveiro without trying one of this, which you can find in almost everywhere in the city centre.
Deciding where to eat in Aveiro at night can be something of a challenge thanks to the wide variety of dining options. If in doubt, aim for the best, and Salpoente certainly is one of the best restaurants in Aveiro. Located on Cais de Sao Roque, this charming eatery is as popular with locals as it is with the many people who come from far and wide to visit each year.
More than just a restaurant, Salpoente is a cultural destination at the heart of the city’s population, playing host to regular art exhibitions by local artists, and music and drama performances. Weekends are the liveliest time to visit, when live music accompanies the tasty fish and seafood specialities prepared by award-winning chef, Duarte Eira. Opt for any of his cod dishes, which are the speciality of the restaurant, and you will not be disappointed.