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The Alentejo region that covers about 30% of Portugal, is one of the most fascinating areas of the country.
It is considered “the breadbasket of Portugal” with rustic flavors including simple gastronomic products like olive oil, cheese, bread, Alentejo black pig, wines and more. Evora, the capital, is the gastronomic heartland of the Alentejo region.
To taste the authentic flavors of Alentejo, we were invited to lunch at Cafe Alentejo, one of the best restaurants in Evora.
In this article, we take a gastronomic tour of the Alentejo region. From black pork to Alentejo wines, discover the unique and traditional Alentejo cuisine you can taste at Café Alentejo.
As the locals say at Cafe Alentejo Evora:
“Whoever sits at our table finds the generosity of the Alentejo land”
About Cafe Alentejo In Evora
Located on Rua Raimundo, a few steps away from the main plaza in Evora, Cafe Alentejo is an old tavern from the 16th century. This historical site housed the royal entourage that accompanied the royal family on their visits to the region.
Today, this unique Evora restaurant has preserved the exceptional ancient architecture. As you walk in, you can’t help but admire the striking arches and vaulted ceilings, in the elegant and modern setting.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: It is worth staying in Evora for a few days to fully appreciate its UNESCO sights and food & wine experiences. For a wonderful stay, we recommend the Vitoria Stone Hotel, one of the best hotels in Evora. Conveniently located near the train station and the city center, this elegant hotel has all the amenities for a pleasant stay. With an award-winning restaurant, a spa and an outdoor pool, you get to relax and taste genuine Alentejo.
Cafe Alentejo Led By Rita Simão
Since 1999, Cafe Alentejo Evora has been led by the friendly and passionate Rita Simão. A native of Évora, Rita was the “cook at the parties” while in business management school.
Her passion for the local gastronomy led her to throw herself into opening Cafe Alentejo despite not having any formal culinary training.
She made it her goal to provide “homemade” traditional and authentic food using the region’s products. From the cheese, desserts and the black pork flavored with unique herbs and spices, Rita only uses local and seasonal products.
Nowadays, Cafe Alentejo is one of the best restaurants in Evora, Portugal. So, let’s sit down and eat!
Café Alentejo Menu: A Tour of The Local Cuisine
The Cafe Alentejo menu features a well rounded offer of local cuisine and unique Alentejo dishes. You find a few starters to open your appetite to the main dishes while waiting to be served.
You can notice a significant cheese offer as well as unique enchidos or sausages available. A few warm appetizers are offered along with eggs preparation, salads and soups.
The main dishes focus on bacalhau or cod fish, Alentejo pork, and beef. However, there is a local meal option for vegetarians.
The specialties of Cafe Alentejo are the classic Portuguese dishes revisited by the restaurant.
To accompany these unique specialties are a nice selection of sides typically from the region not to be missed.
Finally, if you still have an appetite for desserts, check out the regional conventual Portuguese desserts.
Pricing for the main dishes ranges from 10 to 17 euros. You can count for about 30 to 40 euros per person for a full meal with appetizers, sides, desserts and drinks included.
Warm Welcome at Cafe Alentejo with a Royal “Couvert”
As soon as we sat at our table, we were greeted by the waiter with a beautiful assortment of cheeses, green olives, and a plate of local charcuterie.
Typically, Portuguese restaurants serve olives, cheeses, and bread on the table as part of the couvert. At Cafe Alentejo, it was a royal starter of the day.
Our favorite among the selection of charcuterie was the presunto or ham made from the local black pork.
The cheeses, ranging from fresh to aged all had unique character and appeal.
The waiter also presented three different local Portuguese olive oils for tasting, from extra-virgin to premium oils. Olive oil is omnipresent in Portugal cuisine and was used generously in the meals from appetizers to desserts.
One interesting starter was fava beans made with local chorizo sausage. The beans were quite tasty, though salty.
We learned that fava beans are a popular snack at bars and cafes and the natural saltiness of the beans keeps customers thirsty, and likely to order more beers. They are also a cheap source of protein and commonly used in rural areas.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: From the Capela Dos Ossos to the Roman temple, Evora has many surprising sites to visit. We recommend taking a guided tour to make the best of your visit in Evora. Check out this private walking tour and get local insights on the major events that marked the city of Évora.
Seasonal and Local Alentejo Starters
Following the hearty starters where we tried not to eat too much, we moved to the main dishes which represent the local gastronomy.
Small plates came steadily from the kitchen, accompanied by bold Alentejo wines.
Scrambled Eggs with Farinheira Sausage
This very typical starter in Portugal is not only delicious but a Portuguese dish that comes with a somber history.
The scrambled eggs are cooked with a unique traditional Portuguese sausage called farinheira or smoked flour sausage.
This flour sausage was invented by Portuguese Jews in the 1500s as a way of protecting themselves during the Inquisition.
The Portuguese Jews faked eating pork with these sausages that mimic pork and are made instead with flour, paprika, and other ingredients.
Today, farinheira sausages are appreciated throughout the country. With scrambled eggs, they make for a delightful starter.
Wild Asparagus Grown Locally in Evora
Served alongside the eggs and sausage was a plate of fresh and bright green locally grown asparagus. The asparagus, cooked in Alentejo olive oil and sprinkled with local herbs, were outstanding.
A seasonal specialty at Cafe Alentejo, there is nothing like the delicious flavors of fresh vegetables.
Traditional Dog Fish Soup – A Cafe Alentejo Evora Signature Dish
Dogfish, a relative to the shark, is a popular fish found in many Evora restaurants.
At Cafe Alentejo, it is one of their signature recipes and goes by the Portuguese name sopa de cação.
This creamy soup with the mild flaky white fish was delectable. The combination of flavors from the garlic, coriander, olive oil, and additional herbs and spices was a tasty regional treat.
The Meat Delicacies at Café Alentejo
Oxtail Stew Cooked in Alentejo Wine
As the meal progressed, Rita introduced two regional meat dishes that best exemplify the local cuisine.
The first was the oxtail stewed in red wine. This dish is made using a recipe that has been passed down through her family. It is also a meal that takes five hours to prepare.
The oxtail fell off the bone tender, and was perfectly seasoned. Served with mashed potatoes, this made for an excellent dish.
Portuguese Black Pork with Traditional Migas
The black pork was one of the dishes we were most excited to try. The region’s black pork from Iberian pigs fed by foraging for acorns is some of the best in the world.
At Café Alentejo, the black pork cheeks were served with a migas, a traditional bread dish from the region. The black pork cheeks were succulent. Meaty, with a surprisingly lean taste.
Migas are made with hardened Alentejo wheat bread mixed with garlic and olive oil and fried. They often served as a side of Portuguese pork dishes.
The unusual textures of the lightly crispy migas were surprising. To accompany these delicacies, we enjoyed red wine from the Alentejo region, which was smooth and balanced with a hint of spice.
Trio of Traditional PortugueseDesserts
Any meal in Portugal wouldn’t be complete without desserts. The Portuguese are known to have a sweet tooth and they cherish their desserts.
Portuguese desserts are traditionally made with a large number of egg yolks and sugar and often referred to as Portugal conventual desserts.
In fact, one of the desserts we had was made primarily of egg yolks and almonds. It was quite slurpy and very sweet.
The pudim de aceite or olive pudding was the most surprising of the three. With its slight dark green color, it had a slightly bitter and fruity flavor from the olives.
Our favorite was the Portuguese cheesecake. Melting in the mouth, it had a nice balance between eggs and sugar.
A Cellar Full of Alentejo Wine at Cafe Alentejo Evora
Inside the restaurant is a huge cellar that still maintains part of the original architecture. Opened in 2013, the wine cellar is the perfect place to sip the regional wines while admiring the architecture.
With more than 3,000 different types of bottles, Alentejo wines are an integral part of the Cafe Alentejo experience.
These wines are carefully sourced from local producers and they add the necessary texture to the regional Evora food.
For our meal, we had the opportunity to taste three different wines from the Alentejo region. The Solar dos Lobos wines, from a traditional Alentejo family, perfectly complemented the dishes.
This light white wine paired perfectly with the cheese and soup. We found the red wine almost too light for the rich flavors of the delicious black pork.
Although we typically prefer red wines, our favorite was a surprising white wine from Ervideira, a local family owned winery. Served with the desserts, this Late Harvest Wine was the perfect combination to round up our meal.
In the cool cellar, which is ideal to escape the scorching hot Evora summers, Cafe Alentejo can host private dinners for up to ten people.
If you can, don’t miss the opportunity to eat in the Royal Cellar. This is one of the best-hidden secrets of Evora.
Eating at Café Alentejo in Evora is unspeakably memorable. The quality, the authenticity and the diversity of regional dishes along with the wines is unmatched.
You’ll taste the simple and hearty Alentejo fare, using only the freshest ingredients that result in mouth watering dishes
The friendly and accessible staff will make you feel at home within this historic restaurant. Cafe Alentejo Evora offers you the perfect door to experience Alentejo cuisine in a friendly atmosphere.
Address: R. do Raimundo 5, Évora
Hours: Open everyday, Lunch; 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm and Dinner; 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Pro Tip: Advanced reservations recommended. Click here to see reviews and book your table.
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Disclosure: Our visit to Evora was supported by the Visit Alentejo Tourism Board. All views and opinions expressed are our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too!
Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
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