Perched on the western coast of Portugal close to the mouth of the Tagus estuary, the sophisticated town of Cascais is considered by many to be the gateway to Portugal – historically, geographically and even gastronomically.
Explore Cascais and you will find the keys to unlocking the secrets of Portugal’s regal past and yet there are also many aspects of Cascais that represent the country’s exciting future, especially its art and gastronomy. So what better way to set about your Cascais voyage of discovery than through a gastronomic tour of the best-loved food and eateries in Cascais and the surrounding area?
There are some wonderful restaurants in Cascais, but the real charm of the town lies not behind is hotel walls, so once you arrive there is no time to waste. Check in, offload your luggage and head out to begin your explorations.
Cascais has a long history of fishing and fishmongering and despite its modern status as a cosmopolitan beach resort it certainly has not left behind its roots.
Take a wander around the Old Town and right down to O Pescador beach where you will find plenty of fishermen in search of your catch of the day. Check out the fish market to admire their catch and indulge in a couple of fresh oysters to work up your appetite before heading to the municipal market to admire the bright, colourful display of fresh local fruit and vegetables on sale at knock-down prices. Delicious fresh bread, olives and other tapas-style snacks will set your mouth watering and leave your clamouring for lunch.
Once you can wait no longer, make your way to the Baia Grill Restaurant for lunch. Located on the ground floor of the Hotel Baia Cascais the restaurant enjoys the best views in town, situated right on the seafront in the middle of the town centre. Request a table on the wide outdoor terrace to views and a people-watching vantage point to match the delicious fare on the menu. The Baia Grill Restaurant holds a prize from the Estoril Tourism office for quality in gastronomy and offers the perfect combination of great food without budget-busting prices to match. Specialities freshly prepared by House Chef, Manuel Fernandes, include a delicious grilled skewer of delicate squid and prawn, grilled seabass with fresh tartare sauce and golden grouper with almonds.
Wash your meal down with a refreshing bottle of the local nectar before making your way to the trio of town beaches for some afternoon fun and frolics on the sand. There are watersports and beach activities aplenty to help you work off those extra kilos ready for more gastronomic delights at dinner.
Head to Hemingways right in the new marina complex for a laid-back, tasty dinner where popular mains include fresh lobster linguine and seared scallops on a risotto of wild mushrooms. On busy weekend nights Hemingways metamorphoses from restaurant to after-hours dance bar at around 11 pm so this is the perfect place to give your dance legs a workout before heading back to your hotel for some well-earned rest.
Rested and ready for action, head to Guincho the following morning for a relaxed few hours on one of the largest and most inviting beaches in the area. Guincho is home to several quality restaurants serving some of the best food in the Cascais area. Meste Zé is a popular favourite, offering breath-taking panoramic views out to the Atlantic to match the delights on its marine-inspired menu. Featured in the Michelin Guide, Meste Zé specialises in serving traditional Portuguese cuisine with a modern twist and has several vivariums from which diners can select their own lobster, crab or fresh fish. House specialities include the seafood rice, shared seafood platter, or red mullet with capers for some strong, traditional Portuguese flavour.
A light siesta may be in order on your return to Cascais before heading out to the Hotel Cascais Miragem. Portions at Meste Zé can be large so the sushi bar at the Hotel Cascais Miragem is the perfect spot to finish your tour of Cascais gastronomy. Here you can sample some of the tasty local fish and seafood with a delightful oriental twist in bite-size portions of sushi and sashimi that won’t go straight to your waistline.
Cascais is a gastronomic delight and there are many more restaurants to sample in the area, serving tasty, freshly prepared foods and dishes from all over the country. Go ahead and sample them for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.