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 the Alentejo, don’t look further than Cafe Alentejo, one of the best restaurant in Evora.
In this article, we take a gastronomic tour of the Alentejo region at Cafe Alentejo. From black pork to Alentejo wines discover the unique and traditional Alentejo cuisine.
As they say at Cafe Alentejo Evora:
“Whoever sits at our table finds the generosity of the Alentejo land”
About Cafe Alentejo In Evora
Located a few steps away from the main plaza in Evora, Cafe Alentejo is an old tavern or taberna 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.
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.
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 Portuguese 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.
To complete the starters, were typical Portuguese chicken empanadas. These empanadas were quite different from the empanadas we discovered in Argentina. These are thick and doughy and less meaty than their South American counterparts.
Seasonal and Local Evora Dishes
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 flowed steadily from the kitchen, accompanied by bold Alentejo wines.
Scrambled Eggs with Farinheira Sausage
This very typical Portuguese starter 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 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 delightful regional treat.
As is typical in traditional Evora restaurants, the dogfish soup was served with local Alentejo bread.
The Meat Delicacies at Café Alentejo
Oxtail Stewed in Alentejo Wine
As the meal progressed, Rita introduced two regional meat dishes that best exemplify the local cuisine.
The first was 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 was fall off the bone tender, and 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 accompany Portuguese pork dishes.
The unusual textures of the lightly crispy migas were outstanding. The combination of the pork and migas was a heavenly match.
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 Portuguese meal 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 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 in Evora
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.
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, Rita knows how to please any wine lover. 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 Cafe 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.
Address: R. do Raimundo 5, Évora
Hours: Open everyday, Lunch; 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm and Dinner; 7:30 pm – 10:45 pm
Pro Tip: Advanced reservations recommended. Click here to see reviews and book your table
Evora Hotel – Vitoria Stone The Best Hotel in Evora
We stayed at the Vitoria Stone Hotel, an amazing Evora hotel rooted in the traditions of Alentejo with a sophisticated side.
The hotel is centrally located and only 200 meters from the outer walls of Evora. From Vitoria Stone Hotel it is easy to get to Cafe Alentejo, which is just 10-minutes away on foot.
Read our full review of Vitoria Stone Hotel – the Best Evora Hotel To Immerse Yourself in Alentejo Cuisine
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Disclosure: Our visit to Evora was supported by the Visit Alentejo Tourism Board. Opinions expressed in this article are always our own.
Rosemary, ex-marketing and advertising strategist, is a digital nomad and content creator at Authentic Food Quest. Since 2015, with her partner, Claire, they travel the world in search of the best local food experiences. Their mission is to help you enjoy the best local specialties on your travels or via recipes in your home kitchen. Favorite country for food: Peru. Favorite local dish: Bacalhau. Favorite way to keep fit: Running. Rosemary is the chief content writer and strategist on Authentic Food Quest. She is also co-author of Authentic Food Quest Argentina and Authentic Food Quest Peru, available on Amazon.